This week’s restaurant: The Seafood Kitchen, 612 N. Euclid Ave. (at F Street), Ontario.
The Seafood Kitchen is a newcomer to downtown Ontario, taking over a venerable location. Walter’s Coffee Shop was there from 1960 to 1980, succeeded by El Mexicano II, which was there from 1982 to 2008. (Thanks to the Ontario Library’s Kelly Zackmann for the research.)
Two restaurants in 48 years? That would seem to bode well for Seafood Kitchen’s longevity, except that when I was there for lunch on a recent Monday, there were only two other diners. Hope it was an off day.
The menu is heavy on shrimp, leavened with scallop, cod, whitefish, catfish, calamari, snow crab and tilapia items. Some are battered and fried, others are steamed or grilled. The presentation is partly Mexican, partly Cajun, partly Asian. That must explain my order, the No. 4 combo ($6.95), which consisted of shrimp scampi atop chow mein, with Cajun fries on the side.
The meal came with a dozen small tail-on shrimp atop chow mein noodles with bits of celery, cabbage, carrots, onions and pineapple. The fries were the crispy kind you get at Popeyes. There was some Asian-style marinated cabbage on the side.
You have to give them points for creativity. And even though the result seemed like a reject from the Panda Express test kitchen, it wasn’t bad, and the service was friendly. The menu includes several seafood tacos and salads, Cajun hot wings, ramen soup, lunch combos from $3.95 to $6.95 and dinner platters up to $12.95. They also have beer and wine.
Although the concept could use some focus, the interior space is classic mid-century coffee shop. Small lamps are suspended over the booths on long cords from the sloping ceiling. A giant plate-glass window fronts Euclid. The whole effect is striking and, I would imagine, largely unchanged since the Walter’s days. If you’re a nostalgist, take a look.