Thursday, January 27, 2011

Brophy Bros. Restaurant & Clam Bar

I recently went to Santa Barbara for a continuing education seminar and went to Brophy Bros., 
one of the top-rated seafood restaurants in town, located at 119 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93109 (phone: 805-966-4418). It is located on one of the piers 
and I got an outside view looking over the harbor. I got a good mixture of things and found the food ranged from mostly ordinary to quite extraordinary. I got some very nice, chilled oysters on the half shell and a hot clam bar combination platter 
with beer boiled shrimp, garlic baked clams, oysters Rockefeller, steamed mussels and steamed clams.
I have had oysters Rockefeller several times and this was the best version I've had, but I've not loved any of the versions. According to Wikipedia, oysters Rockefeller were created at Antoine's in New Orleans and the original recipe is a secret. The green color is easily achieved by using spinach, but it is believed the original recipe did not use spinach, but rather parsley, pureed and strained celery, scallions or chives, olive oil and capers. These oysters were moister and less spinachy than those I've had in the past, but I still don't think you can improve on the raw oysters, except perhaps by adding a little seafood cocktail sauce.
The waitress recommended the garlic baked clams that include some bacon. Again, they were okay, even a little more dry than the oysters Rockefeller, but no match for the steamed clams I'll describe in a minute. The waitress also recommended the beer boiled shrimp as one of her favorites. I thought they were ordinary. They were a little more limp, liked boiled shrimp can get and the taste was not really distinct or savory. One of my favorite dishes is steamed mussels. 
I particularly like to have sourdough bread along with it which I dip in the accompanying broth. The broth was okay, I've had much better, and I did not like the taste of the sourdough bread, and particularly the crust. The mussels were pretty good. They were pretty plump and juicy. In contrast with the mussels we had in Bulgaria last year, which were plump and bursting with juicy flavor, the mussels were ordinary, but better than many I've had. However, their steamed clams were by far the best clams I've ever eaten. 
The clams were relatively large, very plump and exploded wonderful juicy flavor when I bit into them. I would (and will) go back just to eat the steamed clams.
I also ordered a half seafood chef salad. If that is all I had ordered I would have walked away very disappointed. The crab was limp and not very flavorful, the fish was hard and dry and nothing in the combination was particularly good, including the thousand island dressing.
The clam chowder was very good, very thick, but not particularly clammy. A restaurant next door was handing out free samples which were not thick (did not include flour), and full of vegetables, but very clammy. I think I preferred the next door clam chowder. The clam chowder at Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo, which is also very thick and creamy, is better. It has more clams and is a little richer. It was a Saturday afternoon and very crowded. I think going well before noon or mid-afternoon would be a better time to go and enjoy the scenery without the huge crowds. 

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