1001 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98104
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.