Saturday, November 13, 2010

“You Have Arrived at Your Destination”

So spoke The Woman Who Lives in the Dashboard--otherwise known as the GPS.

If we’ve arrived, where is it? We were on a mission to find Mitch’s Seafood (formerly called Hudson’s) on Point Loma. I accidentally stumbled on this place while Googling another Point Loma fish house, and when I read it described as the locals’ choice on Point Loma, I knew that we wanted to eat here.

After numerous trips around the block and drives up and down Scott Street, we finally decided to park The Big White Truck (no easy task) and search on foot. As luck would have it, we had parked just a few blocks away from Mitch’s and finally found the sign and entrance on the side of Point Loma Sport Fishing.

Mitch Conniff is the chef/owner of this casual waterfront restaurant specializing in fresh locally caught seafood. Besides Mitch, the restaurant is co-owned by a duo of fishermen who supply much of the restaurant’s fish with the rest being brought in from Catalina Offshore, a local company that specializes in fresh, sustainable fish from San Diego and Baja California. At Mitch’s they also utilize produce from Southern California farms and provide a wide selection of local wines and micro-brews.

Like most fish joints, the motto for Mitch’s should be “We Fry Almost Everything.” While there are usually a couple of grilled specials along with fish tacos, salads (with or with chicken or shrimp), tuna salad, shrimp Louie, seafood cocktails, and what many reviewers claim is the best hamburger in San Diego.

We placed our order at the counter in the indoor dining area and wandered out to the dining porch overlooking the marina and where, in the distance, we could see part of the downtown San Diego skyline. It was a beautiful late fall San Diego day with the blue sky reflected off the water and temperatures in the low seventies. Seagulls circled the porch but did not come close enough to present a hazard--if you get my meaning.

However, we did have a few feathered friends join us from a distance.

We shared the porch with a quartet of local middle-aged “Boater Boys” who probably should have stopped drinking one beer earlier. Instead, shortly after our arrival they ordered another round. When one saw me taking notes and both of us using our cameras, he yelled “Do you folks work for a magazine or something?” We let the question go unanswered.

We started by sharing a bowl of Mitch’s highly acclaimed clam chowder.
While the clam to potato ratio was weighted heavily in favor of the clams, it was way too thick for my taste and really needed seasoning. I was reminded again of how good Betty Miller’s (of the Ridgecrest, CA, Millers) version of chowder is and made a mental note to make another batch quite soon.

I decided to order the mixed seafood platter which contained four panko coated butterflied shrimp, an appetizer sized portion of fried calamari rings and tentacles, a medium size piece of battered fish, and a large crab cake. All of this was sitting on a bed of fries that could easily have fed all of us sitting on the porch and a cup of slaw. And all this for only $13.99.

All four of the fish and seafood items on the plate were very well prepared. The shrimp had a relatively light breading and the seafood under the breading was crisp and sweet. The calamari had a very thin lightly seasoned coating and only a few of the rings could be considered overcooked and chewy. The fish (I don’t know the variety) was mild, flakey, and moist.

Now let’s talk crab cakes. I have cast aside my East Coast parochial attitude and will admit to my West Coast friends and family that the Dungeness crab is indeed the Prince of Crabs. (I’d say King but I don’t want to you to think that I am referring to Alaskan King Crab.) And I agree that Dungeness crab makes a mean crab salad. But I still firmly believe that the best crab cake is made with the jumbo lump meat from a Blue Crab.

That being said, the large crab cake on my platter was an excellent example of the West Coast crab cake art. Almost totally devoid of filler, the cakes were delicately seasoned and contained a combination of shred-like pieces and larger chunks of crab. And the cake was grilled and not deep fat fried.

The slaw was decent. Not great but decent. And the fries – at least a half of which I wasn’t able to finish – were of the shoestring variety – and quite good.

Chuck’s lunch was the Crab Cake Sliders, two smaller crab cakes on standard burger buns with slaw and tartar sauce and a side of the same fries.

Mitch’s Seafood was worth the search and we decided, should we ever return, to order two cups of the chowder and one seafood platter. That would be more than enough food for two people. And our rating? A solid 4.0 Addies.

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