Old Fisherman’s Grotto – Monterey, CA

On our little day trip to Monterey, I wanted some good seafood. It seems that this restaurant is the popular choice out of all the overwhelming choices of seafood restaurants on the Wharf. The restaurant is not hard to spot, with the bright yellow front with a giant line. By the time we left, there was a 45 minute wait for a lunch spot so I was glad we made reservations.

There is a guy offering free samples of their popular Clam Chowder.

There is also a display of their specials right at the door.

The restaurant was massive, with two floors which filled up really quick when we got there at 12.30pm.

We were seated on the 2nd floor, in a great corner spot facing the water.

Menu is fairly extensive and overwhelming, with a lunch specials page, appetisers, salads, sandwiches,  pasta, seafood entrees and even kids meals.

To start:

Complimentary tasters of Clam Chowder

The little cups they offered us at the door were more than enough for us. It was rich, creamy with bits of clams. Pretty darn tasty especially when I dipped the sourdough bread in it. We would never be able to finish a whole cup of this.


Sourdough and Rye bread (Complimentary)

Both were delicious, but served cold. Butter was soft so it was easy to spread.


Fried Calamari $10.95(Complimentary)

Monterey Bay Calamari deep fried, served with tartar and cocktail sauce

As much as I appreciate the free appetiser, it was not a very good one. I really wanted to enjoy it but the calamari was heavily coated flour and very underseasoned. A tad overdone so it was extremely chewy but the condiments were good. The cocktail sauce needed a tad more horseradish because it was pretty much ketchup, which I loved but Meep didn’t. The tartar was good as well.


Steamed Clams $12.95

Clams steamed then simmered w garlic, white wine, butter and parsley

Pretty good. The clams were fresh and very flavourful. Generous bits of garlic, tomatoes and herbs floated around the wine broth. Salty and tasty broth, perfect for dipping bread.


Seared Jumbo Scallops $17.95

served with a ginger lime Beurre Blanc sauce and vegetables

Definitely Jumbo scallops! This dish surprised us both. Every component on the plate was cooked perfectly. The scallops had a nice sear, with soft tender flesh. They were so fresh that they barely needed any seasoning other than the creamy sauce and their natural sweetness. I did not taste the ginger in the sauce though, which maybe is not such a bad thing.

The vegetables on the plate were fresh, seasoned lightly and cooked enough that it maintain a little crunch. They were delicious with the scallops.


Lazy man’s Cioppino $19.95

3 shrimp, 3 scallops, 2 chunks of salmon, 2 mussels, 2 clams simmered in a rich Marinara sauce

I was quite disappointed that the Cioppino did not have crab in it. When I asked, I was told because this was the cheaper version. I did not see a different option but I guess they must have a different menu during the evenings. I wish I had know, I would have paid the extra $7 for crab

Every piece of seafood except the scallops were over done. I was quite disappointed, and there is also 1 clam that won’t open (a clam that won’t open should not be consumed, one can get sick from it. That should have been noticed before they brought the plate, especially since it was a shallow bowl).

The broth is tomatoey and salty, with prominent flavours of oregano and garlic. It was not bad but a little lacking. There was not a lot of depth or seafood flavours, other than the pieces of actual seafood I bit into. The broth got too salty and one dimensional halfway through the meal. The garlic bread, on the other hand, was delicious. It was garlicky and toasted well with a crusty exterior and soft centre.


New York Style Cheesecake $7.95 (Complimentary)

I loved the old 80’s food plating at this restaurant. So old school, just like the atmosphere. The cheesecake was ok. It was dense, cheesy and tangy. The sauces on the side were a little strange but we just enjoyed the cake on its own.

More old school plating of desserts I saw when we were leaving.



Coke – $2.50



Total Damage: $72 (including tax & tip)

Personal Rating: 3 out of 5 (Above average)

Prices are pretty expected for a seafood restaurant at a touristy area. The food was ok, nothing bad but nothing amazing. It sits comfortably right in the middle. All I wanted was amazing fresh seafood that is well prepared. 2 of the dishes were huge disappointments and did not do them any justice. That being said, service was excellent.

Our server Iman was gracious, and so nice that even when I was not crazy about the food I could not bear to break his heart and tell him. *laughs*

Pretty much what one would expect of any “chain” restaurants with a menu that probably has not been changed in eons.




Old Fisherman’s Grotto

32 Fishermans Wharf
Monterey, CA 93940

(831) 375 4604

Old Fisherman's Grotto on Urbanspoon

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