Initially my usage of Yelp was restricted to adding a local’s viewpoint to the otherwise solely tourist reviews of New Orleans’ establishments and businesses. Letting visitors know that tourist traps on Bourbon Street were not the primary dining establishments of the locals, and directing them to the true establishments New Orleanians frequent, from Bud’s to Galatoire’s. This changed when I went to the Bay Area. I’ll recount for y’all the whole trip, even the things that had nothing to do with yelp:
I found myself leaving the Oakland airport with no clue where I was, no clue how to get where I was going, and starving. I wasn’t the least bit worried though thanks to my iPhone. I suppose my first stop was predetermined a few years before Yelp was invented. Having read Maj. Grose’s blog (which will be down until summer ’09) and listened to Clark Howard for years, along with reading Serious Eats, I’ve been extolled time and time again the virtues of “In-N-Out Burger.”
Here’s what I’ll say about In-N-Out Burger. The burger was a pretty standard fast food burger (And they all moved away from me on the bench
there). The Milkshake was thick liquid heaven flavored as a mixture of chocolate and vanilla (And they all came back, shook my hand,
and we had a great time on the bench).
After that little adventure I checked into my hotel hopped on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) (in which apple must have an exclusive advertising deal) and appeared miraculously on Market Street at the Foot of Powel Street. I felt like I tunneled underground (from Oakland) and emerged in Disney Land. There was a giant Gap, a Bloomingdales, various eras of street cars and trolley busses passing down Market Street as part of the F Market and Wharves Line, an Apple Store, but most prominently was the crowd of people gathered in a circle around the Cable Car Turn Table. I purchased my [$5] ticket to ride the Cable car and waited in the circular line taking in all the energy of the surrounding area. Of note I noticed lots of T-Shirts and signs flaunting quite apparent opposite to a ballot measure I had not heard of at the time, Proposition 8. I rode the Powell-Mason line up to the top of the hill (when I realized I was not on the line I intended to be on) where I hopped of and onto a Hyde-Powell car. I enjoyed the breath taking views and amazing weather until the car dropped me of between Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf. I wandered around Fisherman’s Wharf (which reminded me strikingly of Rue Bourbon) until I got hungry. I was surrounded by restaurants – BIG restaurants – hundreds of restaurants – everywhere. I had pretty much all of Fisherman’s Wharf, most of the North Beach Area, and a bit of China Town all within a quick walk. I was in the mood for seafood, so I chose to stay in Fisherman’s Wharf, but this by no means limited my options. Yelp, was actually not all that helpful here because of the staggering number of restaurants. I would need to narrow my options then use Yelp to make a selection. As I pondered what to do, I noticed a couple of the local fishermen locking the gate to their pier; I asked them. Though they threw out a few names, Scoma’s seemed to be their selection. While I pondered where to get other options to choose from I read the Yelp review of Scoma’s. I was sold. Here is what I wrote on Yelp:
Wandering around fisherman's wharf, doing the tourist thing, I stopped to ask some charter fishing boatsmen for a good place to eat, where there would be quality food, and not just the same old tourist thing I saw everywhere. They pointed me down an alley, out on a pier to a restaurant with its own dock on the water.
The place reminded me a good deal of the old New Orleans classic, Brunnings (R.I.P.). It has water on 3 sides and wood paneling on the walls. The waiters wear black bow ties and white jackets. The restaurant has its own dock, which put the freshest seafood on my plate. I read reviews here on yelp while waiting at the bar about 20 minutes for a table. By the way, a 45 minute wait isn't really that bad. If I am going to get good food and good service I am willing to wait. Maybe that is just the NOLA in me though (see Galatoire's line for Friday lunch). I had their house Pale Ale, made by Red Hook. It was good bitter beer, great as a compliment to the fish I was going to soon have.
I started with the clam chowder, as the reviews here on yelp indicated I should. It was very good (though I have no basis for comparison, as it was the first time I had ever had clam chowder.) and it was full of large chunks of clam and potato, and lots of veggies.
After inquiring of the waitress (who was nice, but seemed like she had better things to do than wait on a table of 1; but don't blame the restaurant as a whole for her crimes) what was local and fresh. After she showed me what was, I decided on the red snapper in lemon butter sauce. The fish was delish, and it made quite a dish. The lemon butter sauce being practically the mueniere sauce I am used to at home, it reminded me more of dinner in New Orleans. The portions were GIGANTIC. The pasta that came with the fish was bland, but lets face it I wasn't there to eat the pasta anyway.
I apologize for all my comparisons to my home town, but as I see it, New Orleans is the unattainable standard of perfection as far as seafood goes. If you are looking for good food on fisherman's wharf and want to avoid the tourist traps, I highly recommend you stop here.
After Scoma's, I took the F Market line down the Embarcardero and then market Street to the
To be continued…
Next: The Best Lamb I Ever Ate on a Sushi Hunt