Fishwives - New England Seafood Shack Hits Pasadena [Thoughts + Pics]

When we read on Eater that there was a new East Coast-style Seafood Shack opening up, we were hopeful there’d be another option for great Seafood around town.

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While opened in a more crowded, touristy area (Old Town Pasadena), it’s off the main Colorado Boulevard madness, and we were hopeful it might be a nice option when we visit our friends in the area. Word seems to have gotten out, as there was a long wait list and the restaurant was completely packed.

Maryland Blue Crab Jumbo Cake (Mustard Vinaigrette, Knob-Celery Remoulade):

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This didn’t seem like the usual “Crab Cake” you might encounter, as it fell apart pretty easily. However on the positive side, the reason was that it was totally packed with Crab meat(!). There was so little “filler,” that it tasted like you were mainly eating some delicious Seared Blue Crab. :slight_smile: So as a “Crab Cake,” it was a bit disappointing, but for flavor and taste, it was great (lots of Seared Blue Crab). :slight_smile:

1/2 Pound - Chilled Jumbo Shrimp:

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Fishwives gives you the option to order any of their Chilled Seafood (Shrimp, Mussels) by weight (1/2 or whole pound quantities). The Shrimp itself tasted pretty fresh, plump and not overcooked. But it would’ve been nice if they butterflied (cleaned) the Shrimp.

Fried Oysters on Deviled Eggs (Willapa Bay Oyster, Cage-Free Eggs, Old Bay, Tarragon):

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This sounded intriguing. In execution, it tasted like you were eating a Fried Oyster, and then taking a bite of a mediocre Deviled Egg. :expressionless: It tasted like 2 separate dishes / flavors, never really achieving any cohesion. :frowning: The Fried Oyster was fine, but the Deviled Egg filling tasted really flat / one-note.

Steamer Basket (P.E.I. Mussels, Littleneck Clams, ½ Maine Lobster):

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Seeing the words “Steamer” and “Clams,” I knew there were some FTC’ers who love their Steamer Clams with Bellies, so we decided to order it, hoping for another good version. What came out was literally a basket of Steamed Seafood. :smile: (In a bamboo steamer, like they use for Chinese Steamed Bao.)

Steamed Clams:

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The Steamed Clams were sadly without belly, and tasted OK. Literally just plain Steamed Littleneck Clams. They provided Clarified Butter to dip the various Seafood into, which helped elevate the Clams a bit.

Steamed Mussels:

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These were much better: Plump, tender, lightly (inherently) sweet. They were the best item in the Steamer Basket! :slight_smile:

Steamed Maine Lobster (1/2):

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The 1/2 Steamed Maine Lobster was fine (not overcooked). However, it was a pretty small portion: The 1/2 Lobster Tail could be cut in half and resulted in 2 small individual “bites.”

Portland Maine Lobster Roll (House Lemon Mayo, Brioche, French Fries):

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This was a bit off in execution: The “Roll” that the Lobster was supposed to reside in was barely cut open, with the vast majority of the Lobster Meat barely balancing on top of the Roll. So unless you used a knife to cut deeper and stuff in the Lobster yourself, you’d get bites of just pure Lobster, or bites of mostly Bread. :frowning:

The actual taste was fine. Fresh-tasting Lobster Claw meat, lightly buttered, but they also provided Mayo on the side (as if they couldn’t choose between the 2 styles of Lobster Rolls). The Bread itself was average, not seared nor toasty enough, it lacked any appealing finish (no slight toasty crispiness, nor was it fluffy or soft enough if you just wanted a soft version).

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The Fries had a crispy-crunchy factor (great), but it was oil-saturated, looking like it was fried at the wrong temperature.

Crispy Braised Kale (Greek Yogurt, Toasted Hazelnuts):

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The slight charring give the Kale a nice crispiness and slight smoky quality. But it was over-salted. :frowning: Like it could’ve been 1/2 the amount of Salt and been edible.

1 Dozen Oysters (Beausoleil, Fat Bastard, Kumamoto, Kusshi, Kumiai, Malpeque):

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Perhaps showing a bit of their opening jitters, we ordered a dozen Oysters to start, but they didn’t show up until the very end. :frowning: Oh well.

Sometimes you take things for granted, and it’s not until we got Oysters here that you appreciate the little touches (and level of execution) that makes Connie & Ted’s so great. At Connie & Ted’s, they present to you a little printout with the exact Oysters you got, their provenance, and they’re arranged in order (clockwise) so you can follow along and understand and grow your own knowledge of various Oysters. The brightness and freshness are also superior, the Lemon wrapped in sheer cloth so that the Lemon Seeds don’t accidentally fall out when you squeeze. The level of quality of the Mignonette, brightness in the Horseradish, etc.

Fishwives’ Oysters were fine. They tasted relatively fresh, but definitely lacked that super bright, crisp quality of the Oysters that Connie & Ted’s has. The server plopped down the tray and mumbled quickly what we ordered (Kumamoto, Malpeque, etc.), but then left, so we’re just eating them blind (no idea which one was which).

To be fair, they were nicely shucked (no shell bits), and overall, they’re fine if you felt like a Dozen Oysters while strolling Old Town.

Service was a bit haphazard, but we chalk it up to opening jitters (they might’ve been open 2 weeks or so?). Prices feel a touch high (Oysters are $3 - $3.50 each; Lobster Roll is $25), but that’s probably the rent.

Fishwives seems like a solid New England Seafood Shack for the neighborhood. If you found yourself visiting Old Town, and felt like some Maryland Blue Crab Cakes, some Steamed Mussels (excellent), or some Oysters. It’s not the level of Connie & Ted’s, but it can scratch that itch if you felt like this type of cuisine. One of our friends said their Dungeness Crab Roll was better than the Lobster Roll, and worth considering, so if we’re out visiting our friends in the area again, we might give that a try. :slight_smile:

Fishwives
88 North Fair Oaks Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91103
Tel: (626) 219-6199

https://www.fishwives.com/

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Only commenting on the crab cake: many of my MD friends seek that type of crab cake - the lack of filter is considered authentic. Dunno if that’s true for NE

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As @Ns1 said, this is pretty much the ideal crabcake for the Baltimore region: mouthfuls of blue crab and little to nothing else to get in the way. Definitely my preferred version (and I grew up in the West Coast with more “cakes with other stuff” as the norm), though I also find them to be very rich - always thrilled to find them out here, so thank you!

(Does any place out here do Crab Imperial?)

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Thanks @ElsieDee @Ns1.

Good to know that’s the style preferred in MD! :slight_smile: We really did like the flavors a lot, just wasn’t used to it not holding together that well, but the Blue Crab meat was great. :slight_smile: Now that I know what to expect, I think I’d enjoy my next order of that even more than before.

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A version of Maryland Blue Crab Cake that I have encountered in Maryland that I like very much is not the typical seared lump blue crab meat shaped into a cake but lump blue crab meat with no detectable fillings that was shaped into a tennis ball size sphere and lightly coated with bread crumbs and deep fried to a crisp on the outside and super moist on the inside. This version provides an incomparable texture contrast while presenting the jumble lump blue crab at its best.

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Nice report – that looks like just the kind of crabcake I love. How much was it? No prices on the online menu.

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Maybe fine for the area, but $25 for a lobster roll where you need to DIY w/ the filling? No, thanks. Dishes look like a mess (although maybe, as you said, opening jitters). I’ve also prefer a crab cake w/ little filler, but that plating…

The shrimp weren’t de-veined???

Thanks for the report.

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Hi @fallingleaves,

That sounds delicious. Thanks.

Hi @CeleryVictor,

It was $14. Thanks.

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Hi @paranoidgarliclover,

Yah I agree, the prices are a bit crazy for the quality on some of these dishes (especially the lobster roll). And yah, they didn’t clean the shrimp.

I would say there were some solid offerings, but nothing that made us want to drive out for (especially considering Connie & Ted’s), but if you were in the area, and the Crab Cake, Steamed Mussels and Oysters were solid.

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Tried to go for Social Hour @ Fishwives, but they have discontinued Social Hour. Sat down for oysters, crab cake, fried oysters on deviled eggs.

If they fry everything like those oysters, then I want to go back for the fish and chips. This dish was delicious, but a little clumsy to handle. Crab cake was respectable, a little doughy. Not quite as delightful as the crab cake Houston’s used to sell. Curiously they mention a remoulade, but it only came with frisée. When asked, they said the remoulade was the dressing for the frisée. Okay. But the Chowseekers pics clearly show a tiny squirt of remoulade on his crab cake.

The oyster pricing is also a mystery to me. It seems to encourage for one to order one type of oysters. There is no price advantage to ordering your choice of assorted oysters. The waiter couldn’t do the math and also got the origins wrong on two of the five oysters we ordered.

Nice space, but a little pricey. More excited to try Mark Peel’s new Prawn.

Went a few weeks ago and thought the place was OK, but would rather drive to Connie and Ted’s. I’ll echo @Chowseeker1999’s thoughts on the steamer basket and wish they used steamer clams instead of quahogs, and the lobster was overcooked and not sweet. However, the bowl of New England clam chowder was quite good. It was not thickened with flour and was full of whole clams.

A couple of others had items containing Dungeness crab (crab louie salad and the crab roll) and both complained that the crab had no flavor. My son got the fish and chips which is a huge portion, but the batter is super thick so if you don’t like that style then I would avoid it.

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Ended up there with friends last week…or week before.

The good: had a great server who was attentive, helpful, and not pushy. (In stark contrast to the server who had the tables on either side of us.) And the company was excellent.

The meh: not thrilled with any of the dishes. The crabcake was overcooked/flat/dry, lacked the remoulade that @Chowseeker1999 photographed, and the salad it came with had been overly salted; the lobster roll was so saturated in butter that it fell apart and the lobster was plentiful yet stringy - accompanying fries were so salty as to be inedible; the croquettes (I think that’s what they were) had a decent flavor yet were slightly over-fried/dark and still had runny batter inside; a special, of seared diver scallops was okay, but the sauteed greens were both gritty and, again, oversalted. There were several other dishes that I can’t now recall. Overall theme was salt and “seafood for people who don’t want to taste it,” - think everything was fresh, just not flavorful.

The bad: too noisy to converse/hear server; tables too small for everything ordered and so close together that we now know details of rectal cancer (party to one side) and the challenges of building a custom home only to discover architect has forgotten the nanny’s room and it’s really not fair to ask one of the children to give up part of their suite for the nanny (party on other side); dishes came out in bursts, “The chef prefers to send out his creations as they are prepared,” so nothing, then too much, then big gap.

We went to Pie Hole and Cool Haus for dessert.

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A: Please ask the chef to prepare his creations in an orderly manner.

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Anyone tried Mark Peel’s Prawn yet in Miller Alley?

@nakedsushi did in the Pasadena thread.

shoulda started singing the hokey pokey

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