3355 Adams Avenue, Normal Heights
Shopping for beer makes me hungry. Actually, it makes me thirsty, the kind of thirst that precipitates going home to try a few of the beers that I just purchased. That in turn makes me hungry, because I know better than to drink on an empty stomach.
So I got hungry on the way out of a bottle run at Bine & Vine the other day and wanted to find something nearby I could take home fast. A notice outside counter-restaurant Burnside announced it had closed, and I’m still not sure how I feel about the followers of Chinmoy running veggie spot Jyoti Bihanga. So I stepped inside Corner Liquor, where I found Alaskan Seafood Connection back in business.
I’d heard about this casual seafood counter a couple of years back but failed to make it in before it closed for a year or so while the proprietor moved back east. Both he and the shop returned this summer, serving seafood dishes at the sort of low prices you only find in places with low overhead.
This guy keeps it simple, updating the menu on marker boards and construction paper. I found a good-sized cod sandwich going for $5.50. There were also oysters (raw or fried), clam chowder, a salmon burger, and fish and chips — none more than nine bucks. True to the shop’s name, there’s also Alaskan halibut and salmon, but the kicker for me came from the opposite coast: a Maine lobster roll for $13.50.
Regional specialties like this may be found in low-brow shops on the East Coast. I’m sure you can find a lot of not-fancy lobster rolls all around New England. But out here they tend to be an event dish, made with great attention to detail, so its fineness will justify the market price levied on lobster shuttled from the northeastern seaboard. With lobster fetching record prices this year, this often tops 17 to 20 dollars.
So under 14 bucks is pretty good for this lobster roll, and it shows. This is a decidedly not-fancy sandwich. Just mayo-laden lobster salad on a roll. If it didn’t taste like lobster it wouldn’t be worth it. But we live in San Diego, so Maine lobster always tastes expensive.
In a sense, Alaskan Seafood Connection brings Normal Heights the lobster roll equivalent of finding Baja style fish tacos off a food truck in Maine. It’s not elaborate, and it’s not trying to be anything but what it is. But it’s a tasty find when you’ve got a bunch of fresh IPAs to soak up.