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