16600 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
It used to be that you could only get fish at fancy restaurants. Places with white table cloths, waiters dressed in bow ties, and prices that you had to take out a second mortgage to afford. At least that was the way it seemed to me while growing up. The only fish we ever saw when we were young was coming from the freezer, or coming from H. Salt Fish and Chips.
Times have definitely changed. Since I have started this blog, I have written about quite a few casual fish restaurants. Slapfish is not only a casual seafood restaurant, but also one of my favorite restaurants in OC. Spike's Fish House opened in RSM last year. Boneheads is a pretty solid fast fish restaurant as well, with a great Peri-Peri sauce. Almost every other shopping center now features a fish taco place to help squelch your fish cravings. We recently became aware of another casual seafood restaurant to try up in Huntington Beach, so we made the trek up to Surf City to try out Fish Camp.
Fish Camp comes to you from the same restaurant group that gives us King's Fish House. I have always enjoyed my numerous trips to King's Fish House, as you can read here. Fish Camp is King's answer to the casual seafood craze that has taken over lately. Opened in 2010, Fish Camp strives to deliver fresh seafood at more affordable prices. They recently revamped their menu to simplify and allow each customer to personalize their dining experience. Customers now pick their favorite fish, select how they want it served, (sandwich, salad, plate or taco), and then choose a preparation style, which includes; grilled, crusted, blackened, BBQ spiced rubbed, and a la plancha. All of these choices work out to over 700 different combinations that you can partake in. That is almost two years of dinners before you will have to have a repeat dinner.
We arrived at Fish Camp at 6pm on a Wednesday night. The restaurant has a cabin feel to it, lots of wood, and a very nice large patio off of the dining area. Right near the registers a nice looking fish counter, where customer have the option to buy seafood and take it home to cook it themselves. Their was a little backup of people at the register, but that is understandable with so many choices to make. It also gave me some extra needed time to figure out what I wanted to have for dinner. After ordering, guests are given a pager and the food is brought out to their table. Let's see what came out of the kitchen for us.
One of the things we love about King's Fish House is the bread, and it is the same bread here. This Half Loaf of Sourdough Bread ($1.25) is a great way to start your meal. This came out warm, with butter packets. I could have eaten this all by myself, but I would have felt bad doing that to Katie.
I am a sucker for crab, so it was a natural that we try the Fish Camp Crab Cakes ($7.95). These two crab cakes were pretty good sized for being listed on the small plates section of the menu. They were not greasy at all, but the crab could have been more prominent in these. These were paired with a cocktail sauce and a tarter sauce. The cocktail sauce was okay, but the tarter sauce was where it's at. It went very well with this crab cake.
The night we were here there was a little chill in the air, so some New England Clam Chowder ($2.95) was in order. I like my clam chowder a little thicker, but the flavor of this was spot on. I crushed up some of the crackers to thicken this soup. There were a good amount of clams in this chowder as well. The chowder ultimately did its job of warming me up.
Now for the main event, the entrees. Katie had a little trouble deciding what to get here, but she finally settled on the Blackened Mahi Mahi ($16.50), which is served with a Remoulade sauce. Katie had just one issue with this fish, it was not cooked all the way through. The ends were cooked well, but the middle was a little on the raw side. Nonetheless, the blackening seasoning was very good on this fish, and the portion size here was pretty generous. The fish plates come with two sides. Katie selected the Jasmine Rice and the Stir Fry Veggies. She felt that the vegetables were fresh and prepared well, while the jasmine went good with the soy sauce that was on the table.
For those of you that do not want to make too many decisions, Fish Camp offers their Camp Favorites portion of the menu. Seven items for the people that want to take the easy way out, like me. For some reason I was immediately drawn to the Wild Parmesan Crusted Sand Dabs ($12.95). This plate came with three pieces of fish, which were fried pretty well. I really liked the flavor of this, and the Parmesan really did not overtake the sand dabs. They could have used a lot more sauce on these, but the capers helped ramp everything up. For my two sides I had the Cheesy Grits and the Fresh Sauteed Spinach. I am by no means a grits connoisseur, but I found these to be full of flavor, and the texture was right on for me. The sauteed spinach was a tad over cooked, but very full of flavor. Not a bad plate of food at all.
We were pretty full by this point, but got talked into having dessert by our food runner. We settled on the Banana Pudding ($4.45). This good sized dessert featured smooth banana pudding, whipped cream, sliced bananas, and a couple of Nilla wafers. The pudding itself was a little light on the banana flavor, but the sliced up bananas made up for that. I would have liked more Nilla wafers in this, but it was solid dessert.
You can add Fish Camp to the growing list of good casual seafood spots in OC. I really enjoyed our time here. From what I can gather looking at the menus of Fish Camp versus King's Fish House, you can expect to pay about four to five dollars less per plate at Fish Camp. I did not really notice a big difference in the serving sizes of the plates at Fish Camp either. We did have a few minor hiccups with the food, but nothing that would prevent us from coming back if we were in the area. The people at the counter were very helpful making sure customers got exactly what they wanted, while the food came out reasonably quick and with no temperature issues. We left Fish Camp having a good seafood dinner, without having to make a major withdrawal at the bank.
Out of five schools, (because of course fish swim in schools, and the fish probably look forward to going to camp), five being best to zero being worst, Fish Camp gets 3 schools.
To check out the Fish Camp website, click here: http://www.samsfishcamp.com/