Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dockside Grill - seafood and more

"Restaurant Row" in West Covina consists of a few chain restaurants, Hooters among them, but the jewel is definitely Dockside Grill. It's a fairly non-descript place, except for the decking on the outside. It's a restaurant that could very well be situated in a much more high-rent location like Marina Del Rey or Newport Beach, but you get the same quality restaurant with much more reasonable prices and something that's unattainable in the other two cities - ample parking.

Dockside is mostly a seafood restaurant, but they also offer very nice cuts of beef for those not inclined to seafood. They also have some pasta dishes and at least one chicken dish. But their signature fare is seafood, including numerous varieties of fish. While I love sushi, I've not been particularly enamoured of cooked fish, with rare exceptions (steamed catfish at my parents' house, toaster-oven salmon or yellowtail collar at the sushi bar, and salmon at any decent restaurant), but with the abundance of choices at Dockside, I figured it was a good place to give cooked fish a try.

Dockside is a fish-lover's paradise. They have a few things on the regular menu, but they generally have a nice selection of daily fresh fish specials as well. Two of my favorites have been the swordfish (which has a much meatier consistency), the halibut (nice flavor) and blue nose sea bass (which is fairly light and quite delicious). The fish entrees can be prepared either mesquite-wood broiled, pan sauteed or blackened with cajun spices. I prefer my fish broiled.

Of the other entrees, here's what I've had:

salmon treasure - "salmon sealed in parchment and baked with shrimp, vegetables, and seasonings" - I found this dish to be a bit bland, and with the salmon being baked basically inside a bag, the texture was too soft for my liking in salmon.

seafood brochette - "shrimp, scallops, and selected cuts of fresh fish with bell pepper, onions, and bacon served over jasmine coconut rice" - With the different meats, it's a nice selection of different seafood tastes.

cioppino - "crab, scallops, shrimp, clams, mussels and fresh fish in a zesty broth with garlic bread" - This is very delicious indeed.

Alaskan King Crab Legs - These were really yummy, and it was a fairly plentiful serving as well.

You can also order a combo by picking two or three of the listed entrees. Each entree comes with two sides, and there's a list that you can choose from. I tend to prefer the sauteed vegetables and rice pilaf.

Hmmm, I don't recall having paid attention to the fact that they have pan fried calamari steak on the menu. I might have to try that sometime.

The signature entree at Dockside, though, is their Slam Fest. The Slam Fest comes in three varieties. Each includes corn on the cob, red potatoes, andouille sausage, shrimp, steamed clams and mussels. The second level adds King crab and snow crab, and the third level adds slipper lobster in addition to the two varieties of crab. When we first started going, we tried the third level once, when it just included regular lobster, and we didn't think the lobster was really worth the extra price. Since they've changed to slipper lobster, I do think it's a pretty good deal. If you're not into lobster, then getting the second level is just as good, and if you're not that into crab, even just the basic level is very tasty. The first time we ordered the Slam Fest, we had neglected to notice the part where it said they dumped all the food on the table. When they put down the butcher block paper, we figured it was just to prevent big messes. Now, they do pretty much just slam the bowl upside down on the table, which creates a fairly loud noise that has been known to startle those at neighboring tables. It's a bit messy, and the food gets colder faster, but it's a lot of fun to eat with your hands that way.

Here's the page about the Slam Fest.

The picture below from the website gives you an idea of what the Slam Fest looks like. This was the early incarnation which included regular lobster, before they replaced it with slipper lobster.

Dockside also offers an array of appetizers, and on occasion, we decide to go the "tapas" route and just order a bunch of appetizers.

Of the appetizers, here's what I've had:

Maryland Style Crab Cakes - "jerk seasoning and Creole crunch breading, served with Maryland style crab cake sauce" - There are very tasty. Sometimes, crab cakes have mostly breading and not enough crab, but these are made with a good portion of each.

Crab 'N Artichoke Dip - "snow crab meat, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, served with baguettes" - This is also very tasty, and it's a good serving size.

fried calamari - "coated in seasoned bread crumbs and deep fried, with a duo of dips: our own tartar sauce and cocktail sauce" - I love fried calamari, and they do a great job with this dish. Not too breaded, nicely flavored.

Manila Steamers - "one pound steamed Manila clams with your choice of garlic white wine sauce or tomato basil broth, fresh parsley, and garlic toast" - This is my absolute favorite. I love clams, but I really love their taste. I don't care for clams cooked in overpowering sauces that completely mask the taste of the clams themselves, so this light approach is one I really love. I prefer it made with the garlic white wine sauce.

Dockside's Homemade New England Clam Chowder - Very flavorful, lots of clams.

Dockside's Homemade Manhattan Clam Chowder - I enjoy this chowder, but it's not my favorite Manhattan version. It's a little sweeter than I usually prefer even though it's still pretty tasty.

Caesar Salad with crostini - "freshly chopped romaine lettuce and garlic crostini, with zesty Caesar dressing" - When we're having a tapas dinner, we'll order one of these to share.

And then we come to dessert. My very favorite thing on the menu is the tempura banana fritters because they come with macadamia nut ice cream. The banana fritters are ok (the husband and friends love them), but the macadamia nut ice cream is just incredible. I've not found anything like it anywhere else. Not only is the ice cream itself full of macadamia nut flavor, but there are also bits of macadamia nuts in the ice cream as well. If I'm sharing the dessert with someone, I'm usually just having the ice cream. Otherwise, I will sometimes just order a dish of the ice cream by itself.

I've also had the coconut profiteroles - "giant coconut cream puffs, filled with coconut ice cream and served with hot chocolate sauce" - and they were pretty tasty as well.

The restaurant also offers a full bar.

Dockside also offers entertainment on a nightly basis. When we first started going, their house band was called the Double Shots - and boy did we think they were awful. We started planning our dinners so that we'd be out of there when they would start their set, or if we mis-timed it, we would just be thankful when they'd take their breaks. Or we'd ask for a table in a section where you couldn't hear them as well. Our favorite server at Dockside came to realize fairly quickly how much we disliked this duo. They are apparently quite popular, though why that is escapes me completely. They're still listed on the website even though they've been gone for a couple years now. They apparently moved to Northern California, though they make occasional appearances at Dockside. We were unfortunate enough to encounter them during a return engagement at one point last year. There is apparently a list you can be put on where they will call you to let you know when they're in town for a gig at Dockside. I've considered being put on that list so I know when *not* to go to Dockside.

Luckily, the new house band, The Subs, are quite good, and I particularly enjoy the voice of the female lead singer.

Dockside Grill
3057 E. Garvey Avenue
West Covina, CA 91791

Here's the website for the restaurant.


Sherry said...

Dinning at Dockside is delightful!

I think I'll try the tapas route one of these days. I do enjoy Maryland Crab Cakes, as well as clams. How wouldn't I like those clams? They're from Manila!

Mmmm...tempura banana fritters and macadamia nut ice cream...mmmmm....

Cindy said...

Are you going to interview to be on their menu proofing department? ;)

JeffG said...

I loved this place the one time we went about 5 years ago, but have never found time to get back there again.

I wonder how a 4-year-old would react to the server dumping food all over the table...

Cindy said...

Not so much "dumping" as it is SLAMMING. :)