Down at the Docks


Sometimes I walk from the Journal offices down F Street to the plaza, with its wind-whipped flags, and look across the water as the fishing boats come into the bay as they have for lifetimes, bringing their haul back from the unkowable depths and think, "Shouldn't we have, like, a million places for fish and chips, chowder and steamer clams?" There is a solid handful but among those three items, it's hit or miss at each. What happy news, then, to discover Jack's Seafood (4 C St., Suite B, Eureka), overlooking the bay and the crane lifting catches from boats just a couple of blocks over, has conquered the trifecta.
Creamy New England chowder. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Creamy New England chowder.
The chowder is more about the fresh cream than the usual New England soup, with chopped clams, vegetables and a little pepper ($5 cup, $8 bowl). It's light on the salt and served with crackers, herb butter and sliced sourdough — it's the North Coast, after all and nobody's defecting to Maine.

Classic steamer clams and crusty bread. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Classic steamer clams and crusty bread.
Steamer clams, in their amphitheater bowl, are your basic white wine and clam broth, garlic, parsley, green onions and black pepper, and that is truly all anybody is asking for ($14). That and a few crusty slices to dip as you pick your miniature fork through the clinking shells like a very civilized otter. Do not discount the value of the bread — I have long considered bringing my own baguette to restaurants that serve only soft rolls or hard bruschetta toasts with steamer clams, but I cannot decide if it makes me look like a cool actress from French New Wave cinema or just very troubled.
Rock cod fish and chips. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Rock cod fish and chips.
You have choices for the fish and chips, but they all come from Pacific Seafoods next door. The rock cod is tender with a delicate batter crust that holds together just long enough to be dipped in tartar and/or splashed with lemon or malt vinegar and bitten ($15). The chips are skin-on, hand-cut wedges, and the slaw is not to be ignored — lightly dressed and freshly cut with an option for spicy, it's worth ordering a side if you aren't getting the fish.

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