The Car Stops at Clemente’s
by Rainbow Bobbins
D and I hopped in the car and headed to Astoria. I needed to get out of town. I’m feeling oppressed by all this winter-cold. I’m a California girl for goodness sake and this food blog is the ultimate testimony to what this dreary PacWest weather has done to me. Whoa, that is not what I intended to write about. This day turned out to be a good antidote: the drive was lovely, the sun was out and it felt good to be exploring. Although I’ve been in the area for almost a year I had not ventured all the way up to Astoria. I’ve always wanted to go to Astoria but I didn’t always know it. What I mean is I remember watching the movie, Goonies, and thinking “what a lovely town, where is that, I’d like to go there some day.” About 20 years later I was on my way. By the time we pulled into town the sun was nearing the horizon and our explorations of the city did not make it past the first window that said “fish and chips”. “Fish and Chips” D says, “You want to stop?” says I, “Yea!” says D, EEErrrrrrrrrrrrrrr – says the car breaks. And we came to a stop in front of Clemente’s.
What luck it turns out. Clemente’s is housed in an open and airy brick building (or was it wood?) with big windows all around, small wooden tables, worn wooden floors (or was it black and white tiles?), white table cloths and a big glass case full of fresh fish. The restaurant recently changed ownership (but stayed in the family) and is now in the hands of a really good looking young husband and wife team that seem to be from Boston. They are part fish market, part newly-expanded restaurant. When we asked about Dungeness crab the husband, who is also the waiter, mentioned that his brother-in-law was out fishing for more. The stuff here is FRESH.
We were quite hungry and decided to kick off the meal with Calamari Frito Misto (I think that’s what they called it) which was lovely. The calamari was super tender, the batter was light and the dish was served with a lemon-rind aioli. Clemente’s deep fries all of their fish in rice oil which I guess is healthier. D went straight for one of his favorite dishes, Salmon fish and chips and I chose one of their remaining Dungeness crabs which I had not indulged in since the one I had two seasons ago. Oh yea, we had to get some clam chowder too – quite indulgent for a couple who is always broke. Everything was really good. D dug his Salmon – I tried a few bites and it tasted fresh but I like my Salmon really simple – its already so rich I don’t need it battered and deep fried. But for my mate, who has eaten deep fried bacon more than twice, it was good stuff. The chowder was a little rich for my taste as well – super tasty but I’m not a huge fan of thick chowders. The crab was a nice treat of sweet meat. I’d definitely go back to Clemente’s. The food is really good, the place is charming, the owners are friendly and most important their seafood is incredibly fresh – I look forward to sampling more simple preparations of their freshly caught bounty.