Tuesday was a chilly, drizzly and gloomy kind of day, and days like that always put me in the mood for a thick, creamy soup. I hadn’t had New England clam chowder since my trip in January to Pismo Beach’s Splash Cafe, which had the best clam chowder that I ever tasted. So I knew it was going to be hard to find another chowder that would measure up.
I decided to try Sam’s Chowder House in Palo Alto, which has a great reputation for serving up high-quality New England-style seafood.
Dish of Choice
I ordered the New England clam chowder, which was made with little neck clams, Yukon gold potatoes, smoked bacon, onion, celery, thyme and cream. The chowder comes in two servings: a cup is $7.50, and a bowl is $10.95. I decided to go with the bowl, which came with four slices of sourdough bread. I ordered a glass of water, and my bill came out to about $12, including tax.
Now, $11 for a bowl of soup may sound expensive, but Sam’s Chowder House is generous with their servings. I finished about 3/4 of my meal, felt full and took the rest home.
I loved how just about every spoonful had a large helping of tender clam meat on it. The vegetables tasted as if they were slow cooked, and the bacon added more flavor and texture to the dish. I wish the broth was just a little thicker, but every place makes their chowder differently.
Splash Cafe set the bar high for me when it comes to chowder, but I think Sam’s Chowder House is a great contender. The restaurant’s recipe is flavorful, savory and chock-full of quality ingredients.
The aim for Sam’s Chowder House is to give diners a feeling of being at a New England seafood house, and I think the restaurant accomplishes that while creating a casual but classy dining experience. I enjoyed the marina-type decorations on the walls, such as port lights, lifesavers and buoys. They add character to the restaurant without looking cluttered. The restaurant also has a good-sized bar that seats about 12 or so people. I will have to make it back out for its happy hour specials and live music events.
Sam’s Chowder House is located at 185 University Ave. in Palo Alto. It also has a location at 4210 N. Cabrillo Highway in Half Moon Bay. For hours and more information on the Palo Alto location, call (650) 614-1177 or visit www.samschowderhousepa.com.