If you’re after options, go to Clancy’s Crab Broiler in Glendale. This seafood restaurant offers an almost outlandish set of alternatives to accompany its dinners. First you choose between clam chowder and green salad with shrimp, which sounds normal. The next choice, though, is among such disparate things as Chinese fried rice, pasta with marinara sauce, pasta with garlic and butter sauce, baked potato, steak fries and a cheese enchilada. Cheese enchilada? Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted with your poached salmon with watercress sauce?
But Clancy’s is that sort of restaurant, the place to go when you want oodles of food without regard for what it may be. It’s a big, friendly restaurant, with sawdust on the floor, seashell-shaped backs to the booths, Tiffany lamps and ceiling fans. There are nice touches like special wines offered each day; bottles that are not on the regular list. And the bar must be one of the best-looking in Southern California. It makes you think of San Francisco at the turn of the century.
The service is good, but sometimes the food isn’t. Four tries at the fish list yielded only two passable dinners. The poached salmon and Lake Superior whitefish had decent texture. The Boston scrod and petrale sole dissolved in the mouth. The fish is said to be grilled over mesquite, but it lacked grill flavor. It didn’t matter in the case of the whitefish because it was hidden under sauce anyway.
The idea of poached salmon with watercress sauce sounded wonderful, but the dish didn’t work out that way. The salmon hadn’t been adequately drained. And the sauce turned out to be a thick, nondescript mixture served coffee shop style in a stainless steel cup. Those sterile cups pop up so often you wonder if you are in some sort of upscale coffee shop.
Clancy’s menu is a startling conglomeration of seafood, Mexican and Oriental dishes. There is, for instance, a seafood chimichanga. And what do you get on the side but the same Chinese fried rice that comes with other dishes, topped in this instance with salsa and melted cheese. The rice should arouse nostalgic feelings among those who ate their first Chinese food in small towns in the hinterlands. It is hemispheres away from Hong Kong or even Chinatown, Los Angeles.
Better dishes include the gazpacho cocktail, full of shrimp and crab in a thin sauce that tastes like the cold soup for which it is named. I also liked the fried clams, which look like tiny French fries. They are hot, crispy tidbits to eat with cocktail sauce, tartar sauce or lemon. The calamari mojo de ajo , or squid in garlic sauce, served on a bed of linguine, was all right, too.
“Oysters Rock,” described as oysters baked in spinach cream sauce, sounded interesting. However, the waitress got the order wrong and brought oysters on the half shell. This was not an objectionable mistake because the oysters were fine. The barbecued shrimp New Orleans style in their heavy, oversalted red sauce were objectionable. The price for this poor dish was objectionable, too: $11.95 a la carte. For bargains, go at lunchtime when the fish range from $4.95 to $8.95.
Clancy’s is always crowded and people seem to love the food. To give proper credit, it is wholesome, generous and filling. It just doesn’t aspire to anything beyond that.
Clancy’s Crab Broiler, 219 N. Central Ave., Glendale, (818) 242-2722. Lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday. Accepts American Express, MasterCard and Visa. Reservations advised. Valet parking in lot behind the restaurant. Self parking in lot across the street after 5:30 p.m. weekdays.