Wednesday, November 22, 2006
This Week's Restaurant Review: Hawg's in Campbell
I’ve been to Hawg’s in Campbell over 300 times, and I must tell you I have never had a bad or even a so-so meal there. Nor have I seen anyone ever send anything back to the kitchen or really ever complain about the food or the service. I’m sure it’s happened, because some people are never happy. I was at a restaurant the other night, and I overheard some woman bitching to the waiter. She said, “I expected this dish to taste one way, but it doesn’t taste like I expected.” Oh so, the restaurant has to take it back because you had unrealistic expectations? That’s so ridiculous. That’s like someone saying, “I ordered meat loaf but I was expecting it to taste like filet mignon.” Or “ I ordered crab and wanted it to taste like lobster.” Give me a break! That’s why I would never want to own a restaurant. People can be so difficult when they eat out. Their attitude is “serve me like the royalty I wish I was.” They get a sense of power by treating waiters and restaurant personnel like crap because their own lives are so mundane and meaningless. Hawg’s has consistently fresh, well-prepared seafood and other dishes that are always delicious. The place has the ambiance of a real marina cafe. A bar with high wooden stools encircles an open kitchen of gleaming stainless steel. Miniature bottles of red Tabasco sauce highlight the white counter. The high ceiling, smartly emphasized by spotlights and potted plants, makes the place look bigger than its 10-table capacity. The menu is vast and eclectic, featuring something sure to tempt every palate, but if you’re in the mood for a steak, you’re in the wrong spot. Hawg’s Seafood Bar is all about stuff from the sea, and they serve up generous portions of outstanding continental seafood dishes. From appetizers to desserts, you can't go wrong with anything from the Hawg’s menu. First, the appetizers are in a class by themselves. I have a few particular favorites, including the Seafood Quesadilla ($9.95), a wonderful combination of shrimp and crab with melted cheeses nestled in a corn tortilla. I also covet the Cheesy Garlic Bread ($4.95), which is so caloric and decadent that you can literally feel your ass getting bigger while you’re eating it, but who cares? The Sashimi Ahi ($12.95), the Hawg's Calamari ($9.95) and the Baked Oysters Asiago ($12.95) are all incredible. Sometimes when I go to Hawg’s with a group of friends, we just order appetizers and don’t even get to the entrees. They’re all that good! One thing I have to mention is Hawg’s “Newhattan” Clam Chowder ($3.95/cup or $5.95/bowl). I have had a lot of different clam chowders in my day, but this chowder is by far the best that has ever crossed my palate. They call it “Newhattan” because it’s a combination of both geographic chowders. It has a cream base with a hint of tomato; chock full of big juicy clams, carrots and small bits of potato. They also put some spices in there, and even though I’ve tried to figure out what they are – the boys at Hawg’s (Steve and David or Scott ) aren’t giving up the secret. The entrees at Hawg’s are incredible as well. I recommend the Paella Valenciana ($16.95) with roasted chicken, rock shrimp, sausage, clams, mussels, and fresh fish over saffron rice. The Fresh Grilled Salmon ($17.95) served with a creamy potato-corn sauté and yellow pear tomato and wasabi sauce, and the Cajun Pasta ($17.95) with sautéed prawns and scallops, and fresh tomatoes in a creamy Cajun sauce over linguine is also a treat. I would also suggest that any time you go to Hawg’s that you ask about the daily specials. The chefs there (Roberto in particular – ask him about his awesome Chorizo dish!) really do most of their most inventive work with the specials. Hawg’s in Campbell (and with a second location in Downtown San Jose) is a special seafood paradise with great food and really personal service. I love this place. I’ve recommended it to over 100 people over the years, and ALL of them are now regulars there. That has to tell you something!! Hawg’s in Campbell is located at the corner of Campbell Avenue and San Tomas Aquino Road in the Kirkwood Shopping Center. For large parties, you’ll need to make reservations, so call them at: (408) 379-9555.