In Praise of the New Old Clam House on Bayshore

So, it was Friday night, and we wanted to find a family-friendly restaurant where daddy could get a stiff cocktail to accompany his dinner. The thought of battling swarms of Mission hipsters at a place like Beretta or Flour and Water seemed nightmarish, and for a few minutes I felt stuck. And then it hit me: What about the New Old Clam House on Bayshore? They’ve got a full bar! They serve food! And change is afoot, so an updated taste-test seemed to be in order.

Indeed, much has changed. For one, there’s a new glassed-in patio area on the south side of the building that affords an outstanding view of passing traffic. The whole place got a new coat of paint. There’s also a Moderne-style neon sign that looks 80 years old — even though it was just installed a few weeks ago. The front doors are new and inviting, and the interior has been given a thorough spiffing-up.

Ye Newe Olde Clam House

In short, it looks pretty good, inside and out. But what of the food? And my drink?

The menu has been thoroughly revised, and while many of the old stand-bys remain — paging Mr. Cioppino, to the white courtesy phone! — there are some new surprises that bring the joint up-to-date. One very nice touch is that all guests — including my four year-old — are served a glass of warm clam broth just as soon as they are seated.

New Old Clam House

Yum! With some broth in my belly, I decided to satisfy my cocktail urge. I ordered a Tom Collins, which was made in with traditional craftsmanship — which is to say from scratch, without any high-fructose cornshite. Double yum!

For my main, I ordered the sand dabs with spicy tomato bacon sauce. It was baconlicious, and overall deeply satisfying. Triple yum!

New Old Clam House

We also got a half-crab, which arrived on a cast-iron pan sizzling with garlic butter. Quadruple yum in the pike position!

New Old Clam House

All in all, I’m a fan. Though I sure some old-timers will protest, I think the new Old Clam House fills an important niche in the Bernal restaurant ecosystem, in that there is a place in our little world for a reasonably-priced establishment where you can get a table without too much fuss, along with a stiff drink and a good piece of fish in an atmosphere that feels an awful lot like the kind of restaurant one might find expect to find somewhere along Route 46 in Clifton, New Jersey… and I mean that as high praise.

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15 thoughts on “In Praise of the New Old Clam House on Bayshore

  1. The warm clam broth is nothing new, they’ve always done this. I’m willing to give the place another chance, I haven’t been there since shortly since they gutted the menu/staff/decor, so I am open to the possibility that the quality has gone up since then, as it was a profoundly disappointing experience.

    Also, unless they’ve changed the cioppino recipe back, the new cioppino has very little resemblance to the old one. They used to have the best cioppino in SF by FAR… Now? It isn’t BAD, but it’s just a shade of what it used to be.

  2. Thanks for the update! I’ve been curious about this place, will definitely check it out. Any place that would give me a glass of clam broth is half way to winning me over.

  3. We took my GF’s folks who were in town from the midwest there for dinner about a month back and had a great meal. Although I can’t comment on the cioppino pre-menu overhaul, the current version was pretty damn good. Since it’s just down the hill, I’m sure we’ll be back.

  4. Has anyone braved “the new” Stefano’s yet? Last time I went (post wine-license-revocation), I was served carbonated goat cheese.

  5. I love the new clam house! The whole grab in the garlic sauce is amazing! Also, dig the Acme bread and Strauss butter…mmmmmm

  6. i just looked at the menu. too rich for my blood!! really?! $18 for a crab sammich and if you want a side of fries that’s an extra $4.95? ouch. and all the sides alone are 6 bucks, the desserts are all $8. i think that’s pretty ambitious for a restaurant on bayshore.

    • It’s about equally priced with the old Old Clam House prices. It looks like the portions are about the same, too, if that sanddabs pic is any indication. Their Cioppino has actually dropped in price (it used to be embarrassingly large, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they shrunk it some.)

      In other words, while it is more than one might expect from a place on Bayshore, it’s not going to surprise any of the old clientele. I feel like I’ve always gotten my money’s worth (at the old place, at least.) Will definitely get over to check it out at some point soon.

  7. I went a few months ago (pre-outside-area) and the cioppino was to die for. And also two big for two of us to eat. Friendly service, wonderfully dusty ambiance, and crazy “i found this dismembered manikin in the street” decor. And the metal saddle bar chairs that make you feel a little violated if you sit wrong. Curious to see the change and hope it doesn’t get overrun by hipsters.

  8. OMG they have new stuff made to look old and they are in a seedy part of town but charge prices you expect in the Marina. well clearly the improvement are just what I need to get my jeggings and bearded boyfriend on fixes down there!

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