When you are in the mood for awesome hole-in-the-wall seafood, there is but one place near Palo Alto. In the middle of industrial looking area, hidden away in yet another nameless shopping mini-mall in Redwood City on Veteran's blvd next door to Supercuts, is Old Port Lobster Shack. Open "7 days a week from 11:00am until they stop makin' money" (says the sign), the line seems to be always out the door. But not to worry, you could get a haircut (at Supercuts) while waiting!
The place is famous for Maine lobster rolls, oyster po' boy rolls, clam chowder, lobster bisque, and the decadent lobster mac-n-cheese. There are many other seafood and non-seafood goodies that look very appetizing, but I never seem to get to them!
The food and atmosphere very much remind me of Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay that I wrote about here, except that Sam's is located in a beautiful spot with a view on the ocean, and this one is obviously... not. In a place like this, it's a shame not to bring your own excellent vino, since they usually know their beer, but not wine. And what else would I bring to match sweet lobster rolls and the french fries but a Champagne?! Champagne, they say, goes with anything. But seafood and french fries are particularly great combo with sparkling. I've been intrigued to try Jose Dhondt Blanc de Blancs NV Champagne ever since I caught Gary Vaynerchuk rave about and give it a whopping 95 points it on his Wine Library TV. At $55 at Beltramo's, this is not pocket change, especially for a non-vintage bottling, but being on a mission to learn more about Champagne (something I will eventually do an editorial on) I had to try.
The seafood was divinity in every bite.
Just because it's a hole-in-the-wall Redwood City joint, doesn't mean it's cheap - the lobster roll is ~$18, but the corkage is only $5!!! And they give you very cool, chilled glasses (that you can spin around like a spinning top), and a respectable ice-bucket for the wine. So at roughly $30/person for the meal, I am coming back.
The Champagne was a flop for me and my buds. Absolute run-of-the-mill non-descript flavor that I expect to find in the low-end sparkler. That compared to a number of impressive well-under-$100 Champagnes I've had lately (Moncuit, Gosset, Egly-Ouriet) was a big disappointment. What boggles my mind are all the descriptors that I saw folks deposit on cellartracker.com, and the enthusiasm that Gary Vaynerchuk had for this wine. At least the average score on cellartracker was relatively low 89.6. But this is the 3rd (and probably last) time I ordered wine based on Gary V's raves on Wine Library TV, and none of the 3 were anywhere as special as he made them sound. It often happens that different bottles of non-vintage Champagne disgorged at different dates will taste differently - since the source material (i.e. grapes) come from different years, even though the Champagne house tries to maintain a consistent style. Which is why you should demand that a disgorgment date be declared on the label and mentioned in the review. Unfortunately, this bottling doesn't specify that. I won't cast judgments other than to say that my palate must be an awful lot different from Gary's, and let's just leave it at that :)!