Good “Chowdah” Gone Bad

Once upon a time, on a cold, stormy winter’s night…

Venturing out to Fat Face Fenner’s always lays in the back of our minds on a cold winter’s day, but we had not eaten there for a while.  When we finally ate at this family favorite, we found that our cozy shack had changed.

“Go Red Sox!” I thought as I walked up the stairs of the Bostonian restaurant. Red Sox, Celtics, and Patriots signs were strung all over, and the contrast of that and fishing hooks and nets everywhere made me feel like I was in Cape Cod. It was welcoming!

We sat down and looked at the menu, but without hesitation every one of us looked at the “Chowdah” section. That was why we came here, for some good ol’ West Coast Chowder. My dad and I tried Lobster Chowder, my mom ordered Smoked Salmon Chowder, and classic Tabs received New England Clam Chowder.

I must say that the restaurant’s service was friendly, and the best you could ask for.  Every dish or drink came very quickly, and our waiter was attentive and greatly appreciated.

Lobster Lava

“Yum!” I declared as a sizzling bowl of peach-colored lobster soup was placed in front of me. I inhaled a smell of savory richness… And dug in.

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Man, this soup was like Pacuigo’s Pepe Nero (black pepper) Gelato; three bites and it was fantastic, and then suddenly you didn’t want any more. My dad had to start treating me like a two-year-old; “Sorry, just 5 more bites Meg!” and by the end it was too rich and WAY TOO SALTY!!!!!! I wish I could get the Lobster “Chowdah”  less salty.

Clam Creation

Tabs’ clam chowder was creamy, but thin, and the bacon bits were not as crisp and melt-in-your-mouth as they could have been. It was mediocre soup, and it was too filling; next time she would get a cup instead of a bowl.

SMOKE SMOKE SMOKE!

Mom’s soup was a tan bisque filled with chunks of salmon. The broth was extremely smoky, a flavor that my mom enjoyed, I did not feel strongly about, and my dad disliked. Go figure. Overall, we could not agree on this dish.

We didn’t understand. Soup here used to be like a hidden treasure, in a small hole above Froyo Lite, but now…

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“For whatever it’s worth, we’ve been coming here for a long time and we have noticed a change in your recipes. We actually liked the old ones a whole lot better,” my dad told our waiter, as politely as he could.

The poor guy looked totally ready for this response, and told us, “What happened was that our chef actually left us, about three years ago, and since the recipes belonged to him, we lost everything. We even tried buying them off him, and he refused. We just can’t make it the same,” he admitted.

“Okay. Thank you!”

So overall, change can be for the worst, but hopefully something good will come out of it. Someday, I will try to blog about Fat Face Fenner’s Fishook — a good sushi restaurant downstairs that we have enjoyed.

(I just realized that I have never blogged about a sushi restaurant.  How is that even possible?!?)

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Fat Face Fenner’s Fishack

53 Pier Avenue

Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

Tel:  (310) 379-5550

www.facebook.com/fatfacefenners

 

The Teetering Tower: I’m Undecided

Heaven

Heaven

Have you ever been to Tower 42? Tower 42 is a seaside restaurant in Playa Del Ray. I recently went with my mom, dad, sister, and another family. I’ll tell you what I thought…

Tower 42 was pretty good; I didn’t think it was spectacular, and it was too pricey to become a regular there. I’m not sure if I will ask to return. Some dishes were made note of in my mind, yet some were not pleasing. I will have to think on it.

When I first stepped into Tower 42, I admired it. There is really no other way to say it; the décor was subtle and soothing, and an icebox full of oysters glowed 10 ft. in front of me. A fire crackled in the otherwise dim dining room, the flickering flames reflecting off of my sea blue eyes. It was calming, quiet —I liked it.

I Love Lunas!

I Love Luna!

I shuffled towards the oyster chest, my 4-year-old friend Tyler gripping my hand. “Don’t touch anything,” I whispered to him.

“Hello! Would you like to look at the oysters?” the friendly man behind the icebox asked.

“Sure!” I replied immediately, tugging Tyler over to the icebox.

“These smaller, brinier oysters are Luna oysters, and the ones to the left are bigger and creamier,” he told me.  I smiled.  I had tried Luna oysters before, and I liked the small, salty ones, so I knew which oysters I would order tonight.

“Thanks!”  I smiled brightly and walked back toward my dad with Tyler.

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Choices, choices!

Choices, choices!

“4 kids?”  The hostess forced a smile on her face and added, “We’ll get you into a private room.”  I smirked at the floor and thought, “Families get lucky here!”

Our table was huge!  And it literally was in its own room.  Two cushy chairs were placed on either side of a larger-than-life flat screen TV.  I took a seat and scanned the menu.  It looked pretty good.  My mouth watered at the sight of Espresso Bean-Crusted Sirloin Steak with Lobster Risotto, but it was $32!  I glanced over at my dad, laughing at something Angie just said.  No way.  Not happening tonight.  Too expensive.

“What are you getting, Meg?” my dad asked about a second later.

“No idea,” I murmured, but thinking of the Luna oysters.  “Though I know I’d like some oysters.”

“How about the gumbo?” Dad asked, pointing to the Soup and Salad section of Tower 42’s menu.

“Perfect!”

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Priceless

Priceless

This is what I ordered:  Fried Oysters, Luna Oysters on the Half Shell, and Gumbo (with oysters in it).  I was in for one heck of an oystery night.

My mom ordered some delicious Salmon Tartar!  The avocado and icy-cold salmon blended perfectly together, and the wasabi gave it a hint of spice that my mom really enjoyed.  A ring of fried potato held the dish together, and I thought it could not have been much better.

My dad, on the other hand, got a crudo that I didn’t particularly enjoy.  Raw Hamachi was surrounded by pickled watermelon and radish.  The watermelon was mediocre, and the watery radish didn’t taste like much, but I didn’t care for the fish at all.  It carried a stench and taste that was way too fishy for me, but to other perspectives, it was a tasty dish.  It probably didn’t help that I don’t like hamachi very much.

Meanwhile, I was enjoying my fried oysters.  They were perfectly fried, with the right amount of seasoning.  Crunchy crispiness coated the outside of the briny oyster, and I gulped them down like I hadn’t eaten in weeks!

Next, we received our raw oysters.  I had only two of the irresistable Luna oysters;  I guess I wasn’t in the mood like I thought I was.  Mignonette (an onion and vinegar drizzle) and a cocktail sauce were served with our oysters.  I used some of both! 🙂  Overall, our oysters were incredible!

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Not Quite Gumbo

“Entrees, entrees, coming right up!” I whispered to Luke as a bowl was placed in front of me.  My smile faded and frown lines appeared above my nose.  “I ordered gumbo, right?” I thought to myself.  The bowl in front of me was filled halfway with rice, and vegetables, only two shrimp, and only two oysters filled the rest of the bowl.  No broth, no moisture. I was disappointed.  The meats were dry, and there was too much rice.  I would not recommend the gumbo at Tower 42.  Luke, to my right, savored a fancy sirloin steak, pink and juicy, like we like it, and Tyler, to my left, ordered the kid’s chicken tenders.

My dad chose the — What do you know? – Espresso-Bean Crusted Sirloin Steak with Lobster Risotto.  I smiled regretfully, but I did get to try it!  The espresso beans gave the steak a deep, alluring flavor that you just couldn’t get tired of … but my dad disagreed.  It was medium-rare, pink and juicy, just like my dad and I cook ours at home.  I say, if it tastes like shoe leather, it ain’t proper steak!   Killer Shrimp, watch out!  Tower 42’s steak could kill!

For dessert, I selected “The King”.  A banana cream pie covered in peanut butter cream and chocolate ganache, this dessert was unbelievable!  I truly thought it was irresistable, unforgettable, and addictive.  The sweet

Obvious Royalty

banana cream filling was wrapped up in a Captain Crunch crust (crazy, right?!) and it blended together with the heavenly peanut butter cream like two peas in a pod!  (It reminded me of my Aunt Jayne’s Heath Bar, Peanut Butter, and Banana pie masterpiece from Thanksgiving!)  The chocolate ganache worked magic with the strawberries on the side, and I felt like singing by the time I had devoured the sweet treat.  Angie was practically in love, and she downed her slice like the world was ending.  My mom was the only one who didn’t love it.  She thought it was a little rich, but she liked it for one bite.  Overall, “The King” was a huge hit in the second private dining room.

In all, I loved some things, and I didn’t love others.  But now that I have written it all down, I know I would gladly take a trip back to Tower 42.

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Tower 42

119 Culver Boulevard

Playa Del Rey, California 90293

Tel:  (310) 823-6800

tower-42.com

Facebook.com/tower42