We continue from Earth Eats.
Coastal Eats joins Active Eats and Earth Eats behind Club Cool (through September 7th) in Future World. The three Marketplaces share a centralized area with high-top tables and a variety of other ledges suitable for stopping and enjoying a couple food and drink items. Coastal Eats almost always has the longest lines of the three Eats booths – not necessarily because what’s offered is overwhelmingly better than the other options, but simply because it takes longer to plate the food. If you’re visiting multiple booths, you might first check the length of Coastal Eats and have other people hold off on picking up food/drinks from Active or Earth.
Coastal Eats returns the Lump Crab Cake and both wines this year. We’ve seen a similar Scampi Dip each of the past two years, but this one brings with it two sizable Scallops, so we’ll be sure to check that out. I’ve only had False Striped Bass in the past, so we’ll give the “True Bass” that they’re promising here a whirl along with the Mule Beer.
- Lump Crab Cake with Napa Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Lemongrass Cream – $5.50
- Baked Shrimp and Scallop Scampi Dip with Sourdough Baguette — $6
- Pacifico True Striped Bass Tostada with Slaw and Fire-roasted Tomatillo Sauce — $6
- Short’s Brewing Co. Mule Beer – $4.50
- A to Z Wineworks Pinot Gris – $5
- ROCO Gravel Road Pinot Noir – $6
Lump Crab Cake with Napa Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Lemongrass Cream – $5.50
As far as five-dollar-and-change crab cakes go, this thoroughly impressed. The cake was light, but surprisingly dense, with a good ratio of crab to other stuff. The slaw on the bottom added some vinegar along with a nice fresh crunchy vibe and helped cut a bit of the fishiness from the crustacean. Avocados make another appearance here, this time with a creamy, nutty character mixed in with the herb-y lemongrass that also lent an aromatic quality to the flavor profile. It doesn’t necessarily beg a purchase, but I think you’ll be satisfied with what you receive.
Baked Shrimp and Scallop Scampi Dip with Sourdough Baguette — $6
When I first read the description for this, I assumed that the Scallop portion was going to be the absolute tiniest of Scallops available mixed in with the Shrimp pieces in the Dip itself.
Instead, you’ll (hopefully) come away with two of the largest Scallops that we’ve seen from the past couple of years’ worth of Festivals. Even better, they’re prepared perfectly inside the kiosk, carrying a little bit of a crisp quality before giving way to the tender, soft center with a little bit of a smoky, charred flavor. The Scampi itself was on the oily side with nary a bite of Shrimp in sight. The bread was also much blander than in past years – soft and without any character.
Here’s the Shrimp Scampi from last year, which I said was “packed with butter, garlic, cheese, shrimp, and herbs and served with two long slices of fresh sourdough that pairs really nicely against the rich creamy cheesiness of the dip. It might be more of a November dish than a September dish, but I thought it was deliciously decadent and a good value given the size and amount of shrimp.”
Instead, we come away with what’s basically two separate items in one – a couple of large, tasty Scallops that you’re not going to want to pair with the bread or the Dip. Then the Dip itself, which seems to suffer for whatever reason from the whole Scallop situation. Last year, there was a delicious layer of cheese and bread crumbs on top of the Scampi. We don’t get that this year. Even so, with the size of the Scallops, this is still a decent dish, even if the Scampi isn’t as impressive as last year. I would still rate it pretty highly at this price point.
Last year, this is the size of the Scallops we were served for the same six bucks. Still, that butter sauce was incredibly addicting with a delicious spicy quality tempered by the richness of the butter and the scallops themselves were tender and expertly seared.
Overall, for this year:
Pacifico True Striped Bass Tostada with Slaw and Fire-roasted Tomatillo Sauce — $6
Pacifico would probably like me to tell you that they’re the only dedicated striped bass hatchery in the world and also the only one that Best Aquaculture Practices has rated as four stars, which in turn makes this particular piece of fish the only true ocean-raised striped bass. That all seems like good news and the fish is indeed semi-firm and flavorful with a delicious crispy skin and perfectly flaky texture. The Tomatillo Sauce adds a smoky, roasted flavor to the fish with the acidity of the Tomatillos combining nicely with a lot of garlic and some jalapeno. The Cabbage-heavy, vibrant purple Slaw underneath adds a fresh, crunchy component, but I couldn’t help but think that it would have worked a lot better as a fish taco with a soft tortilla. The crispy fried corn tortilla provided was topped with a delicious seasoning, but it made it precarious to try to pick up and eat with the likelihood that a lot of the toppings were going to fall off, and trying to break it up into smaller bites was a little awkward. We ended up eating it sort of like fish nachos with a little bite of fish on top of what ended up being corn chips. The toppings also cover only about about a third of the crispy tortilla as it stands. Still, the One True Bass to Rule Them All tastes great paired with what’s on top of the tostada.
Short’s Brewing Co. Mule Beer – $4.50
This is an interesting beer that smells almost exactly like a ginger ale with a lot of sweet lime up front followed by a more bitter ginger. I’m not entirely sure what it’s supposed to pair with here, but the modest carbonation makes it easy to drink and if you don’t love it, there’s a total of six ounces in the cup anyway. I had never tried it before, so I appreciated the opportunity, but it’s not something that I’d seek out again.
A to Z Wineworks Pinot Gris – $5
This is poured from a $13 bottle, which makes the $5 pour a below average value on that front. Fortunately, this is an easy-drinking white wine with soft tannins and a pleasant citrus flavor mellowed with pear and melon. It pairs nicely with the True Bass.
ROCO Gravel Road Pinot Noir – $6
At $25, the bottle price is almost twice the Pinot Gris, yet the pour at the Festival is only a dollar more, making it a good value. The wine is dark and luscious with a bright cherry flavor backed up by plum and fig that linger on the tongue.
The three Eats booths that make up the Culinary Corridor typically impress. Our Scampi was a step backward, unfortunately, but things may improve as the Festival progresses. I was impressed by the size and quality of the Scallops, but the Shrimp Scampi remains the main event and it was oily and virtually shrimp-less. The Tostada would have been better in a different form, in my estimation, but the Bass and the Tomatillo Sauce are both delicious. The Crab Cake won’t be the best you’ve ever tasted, but it’s not a bad pickup alongside one of the other items. If the line is long, you might come back later. Or you might bring two Swine Brines over from Flavors From Fire and enjoy drinking those while you want.