Ivar’s Acres of Clams – Seattle WA

1001 Alaskan Way

Seattle, WA 98104

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Located right on the pier near the ferry building, Ivar’s Acres of Clams sits as a Seattle institution for their seafood offerings. As one of the most well-known restaurants in Seattle, we had to give them a try. We had made a quick reservation on OpenTable for the evening, and when we arrived, they quickly accepted our reservation and accommodated our request for a window seat in under five minutes. After the hostess sat us and provided us with menus, we noticed that we had a view of the ferry ships docking and departing every so often from our table. After reviewing the menu for a while, we were ready to order, but the server seemed very occupied tending to his many tables. He seemed a bit overwhelmed, and upon further review, the restaurant as a whole seemed understaffed. After a good ten minutes, the server took our drink order. It was not until another 5-10 minutes did he bring the drink and then proceed to take the order from the table adjacent to us who arrived before us. After he took that order, he was available to take ours.

Today, we decided to order the golden seared crab cakes, bowl of Ivar’s famous clam chowder, and Ivar’s world-famous fish ‘n chips. The golden seared crab cakes contained plenty of stringy crab with a nice sear on the outside to keep it together. Each bite paired perfectly with the bed of saffron aioli. Each bite melted in your mouth. Unfortunately, we were not fans of the tomato-fennel chutney that did not seem to pair well with the crab cake. The clam chowder is offered only in a ceramic bowl and not a bread bowl unfortunately, but the chowder did taste good. The consistency was fairly thin and had sweet notes. The clam and potatoes were chopped up a bit finer than I would like, but the added crackers helped provide some body to the chowder. I would say the chowder is tasty, but is not all that. I have tasted better clam chowder from Disney California Adventure as well as from Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. The fish ‘n chips were an even bigger disappointment. The tartar sauce was more on the sour side and needed more sweetness. The breading on the fish was not crispy at all and seemed to just be simple breading. The fish itself was fresh and chunky, but the combination of mediocre tartar sauce and non-crispy breading was very disappointing. The fries tasted OK, but they were nothing special. The fish and chips we ate at Fort Bragg blows these fish ‘n chips out of the water, especially considering the house-made tartar sauce at Sea Pal Cove tasted a million times better than Ivar’s.

Overall, Ivar’s serves up OK tasting seafood dishes, but their two famous items were disappointing. With that said, if I were to come to Seattle again, I would probably still order the clam chowder, unless I find another spot that has better tasting clam chowder. Service was very slow, probably at not fault of the server himself, but for the restaurant under-staffing the shift. Prices are reasonable for the items we ordered, but if you are looking for higher-end seafood dishes, you will spend upwards of $30 to $60 depending on what you order. If you have never tried Ivar’s, I would still suggest giving them a try, but I find them to be more of a touristy restaurant and not an amazing restaurant.

Skillet Counter – Seattle

305 Harrison St

Seattle, WA 98109

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Located inside the Armory of the Seattle Center, Skillet Counter serves up traditional American food to the patrons of the large food court. Since there really was not much more available than hot dogs and popcorn at the top of the Space Needle, you really need to head down to the Armory for more food options. Menu boards are posted above the register and prep area. After reviewing the menu, we were ready to order. Today, we decided to order the breakfast sammy and the fried chicken sammy. The breakfast sammy came with a simple spring mix and balsamic vinaigrette, which was not the type of salad I usually enjoyed. The breakfast sammy itself was very fresh and had some really crispy bacon. The sammy tasted savory and fulfilling, but did not have any other flavors or sauces to bring it to the next level. The fried chicken sammy contained some really crispy chicken that maintained an adequate amount of juiciness to prevent itself from being dry. The jalapeno aioli and kale paired well with the sammy, but after eating it for a while, you realize that the breading was very thick and you don’t really taste much flavor. We had also upgraded the fries to poutine fries, but that was a devastating upgrade because the fries were cold, soggy, and flavorless. The cheese in the fries was not even melted, so we were unable to even eat the dish. Overall, Skillet Counter serves up interesting items on their menu, but the flavor and quality of the food is lacking. Prices are definitely on the high side for what you get. If you are visiting the Space Needle and are looking for something to eat, you may want to try one of the many other eateries in the Armory or in the surrounding area.

The Local – Fairbanks AK

6450 Airport Way

Fairbanks International Airport

Fairbanks, AK 99709

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Located past the small TSA checkpoint at the Fairbanks International Airport, The Local serves up a small menu with simple American dishes. The only other food option at this location would be the Starbucks that shares the same seating area. After reviewing the menu at the front of the restaurant, we proceeded to the bar area to place our order.

Today, we decided to order the smoked salmon dip and the 3 alarm burger. After ordering, we were given a number tent to bring to a table so that the server can bring the food over once ready. After a short wait, the smoked salmon dip arrived. The two large dollops of dip went well with the slices of pita bread. The dip was fairly hard to spread because it was thick, but the flavor of the smoked salmon was present. However, after eating more of the spread, all you can really taste is the cream cheese. The 3 alarm burger earns its name because although the first bite may not seem spicy, the heat really creeps up on you. The burger patty was fairly small, but it was juicy and appetizing. The substituted Parmesan tater tots were extremely crispy, which went well with ketchup. The shredded Parmesan was a bit disappointing since it did not really stick to the tots.

Overall, The Local serves up decent American food, but food was only mediocre. Prices are fairly high for what you receive. There were not many other people eating at the restaurant, but the airport wasn’t that busy either. If you are hungry and happen to be at the Fairbanks airport, The Local will do just fine in satisfying your cravings, but if you are not that hungry, you can probably get by with Starbucks.

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