King’s Clam Bar
622 Washington Avenue, Prospect Heights
Despite the unending list of restaurants and bars opening in Prospect and Crown Heights, the neighborhood retains a few sleepy spots, like the stretch of Washington Avenue just south of Atlantic Avenue, where there are plenty of apartments but a dearth of restaurants, bars, or cafes. So it was welcome news when King’s Clam Bar quietly opened at 622 Washington Avenue, between Pacific and Dean streets. A few restaurants have called the space home in the not-so-distant past, including Ortine, a French café, and Atlantic Co., which served booze and pizza. Is this under-the-radar location cursed? Let’s hope not, because I hope King’s sticks around.
As the name would suggest, this restaurant specializes in seafood. Chef Bill Seleno is giving off the vibe of an East Coast seafood shack, where you can mark your order on paper menus and food comes in paper containers. There’s a raw bar, a selection of sandwich rolls, sautéed and baked fish, and, finally, soups, salads, sides, and slaws. The server will recommended that you order a side condiment with your baked fish, and options are as creative as ginger cilantro, garlic dill, and jalapeño tartar.
The fish, to put it simply, is good. It all tastes fresh, which made dishes like the shrimp cocktail and lobster roll shine in their simplicity. The sautéed mussels sat in a pool of sauce that I can only describe as heavenly—black garlic, burnt rosemary, and double cream, oh my. The boiled clams came bathed in something simpler, and lighter, with a sprig of thyme. None of the fish dishes needed the extra ginger cilantro sauce ordered. The big disappointment of the night was the majorly stale baguette bread, which came with the mussels and clams. With sauces this good, give us something solid to soak it up with!
A side of the clam dip didn’t look like much, in its paper container brimming with chips, but it was the perfect seafood guilty pleasure. (If you’re like me and have a weakness for creamy, fattening dips mixed with salty chips, just go ahead and order it.) The potato salad with bacon and egg was solid but nothing special; it would have stood out with a more significant portion of bacon.
After so much goodness from the sea, an apple crisp dessert fell way short. It wasn’t warm, wasn’t served with ice cream, and tasted a few days old. King’s Clam Bar: Stick steadfast and true to fish. In that respect, you know what you’re doing.