East of Eden


Now is the time of year when we East Coast expats begin to get homesick. Back in New England and the Tri-State Area, the evenings are balmy, the halter tops are emerging from storage and businesses are closing early on Fridays so everyone can get a head start for “the Shore”—where the water is warm enough to swim. Here, the fog is rolling in and we’re breaking out the fleece.

   The deck at Sam’s Chowder House.
   Photos by Kingmond Young.

So little things help, like a drive to Sam’s Chowder House on the beach in Half Moon Bay, whose owner, Paul Shenkman, bought the Anchorage in 2005 and renovated it, opening Sam’s last fall with the idea of recreating the food and atmo of the seaside fish houses of his native Jersey Shore. You know: Maine lobster rolls, crab cakes, New England and Manhattan clam chowders (the availability of Manhattan version signifying true Eastern cred)—lots of fresh seafood in a casual atmo. Design-wise, Shenkman opened up the 180-degree views of Half Moon Bay with a glass-enclosed dining room. When you add in a wraparound deck, some Adirondack chairs and an outdoor fireplace or two, you’ve got the best of the East right here in the West.

                                 Be hungry when you approach Sam’s clambake.

In a few weeks, Shenkman plans to add a “clambake in a bowl” to the menu, and I sampled this old-school specialty last week: whole Maine lobsters, littleneck clams, PEI Mussels, andouille sausage, sweet corn and Yukon potatoes, all steamed atop seaweed. When they bring you the drawn butter, make sure to ask for ketchup and oyster crackers. Squeeze a dollop of the ketchup into the butter so that when you dip the seafood in it, you get both ketchup and melted butter on the fish. Wash down each bite with oyster crackers and beer. Repeat until happy.
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