Race Street Seafood Kitchen, San Jose
This was another one of those fondly remembered seafood market-cum-restaurant places from my childhood (247 Race Street, 408-287-6280), although the word "restaurant" may be pushing it a bit in this instance. You're not served here; it's a counter where you carry your tray off to your seat. In contrast to other places like The Fish Market, this place is clearly more market than restaurant. But they do have a mesquite grill out front where lots of appetizing aromatic smoke visibly arises from the grill from quite a distance away.
And as good as the mesquite grill smelled, I opted for something nostalgic instead: a very simple fish & chowder combination, with cole slaw instead of fries. The clam chowder here (New England style this time) had won a number of awards, and I remembered it being pretty good. But for some reason, it just didn't do it for me today; while there were still lots of clams present, it simply didn't possess any huge edge when it came to richness or otherwise (thankfully some black pepper saved it somewhat). Maybe it had been so long that my mind blew it up into something bigger than it was, thus only setting myself up for a letdown. Well, it was by no means bad, but I guess I thought I remembered it being even better.
The fish was also something that came across a bit milder than I was expecting, although this was certainly still very fresh and crispy. I had to sprinkle some salt on it to give it some more taste though (and fortunately the malt vinegar and tartar sauce helped). The coleslaw was very fresh, although again, on the milder side of the flavor spectrum. Well, despite the mild disappointment, this was definitely still very fresh, and still the type of place that really sings to me. Maybe I'll try some of those mesquite grilled items next time.