Ahoy, seafood lovers

Pelican’s Roost is a treasure trove of delicious fish

Photo By matt siracusa

Pelican’s Roost Chowder House

1354 East Ave.
Chico, CA 95926
Ste. A

(530) 899-2762

Stepping into Pelican’s Roost Chowder House is like entering a fisherman’s cove. Nets, starfish and lanterns that belong on an old wharf cover the walls and prepare one for an onslaught of seafood delicacies and fried fishiness.

I first went to the corner restaurant at the East Avenue Safeway shopping center a few months ago when a hankering for fish and chips took hold. During that trip my fiancé and I both ordered the halibut fish and chips (a seasonal option that goes by market price). We fell in love. The freshness of the generous portions of beer-battered fish was unmistakable. A bit pricey, but worth it.

When we made a return trip a few weeks ago, we took a seat at one of the comfy booths and perused the menu, which is chock full of delicious-sounding choices. For starters, we decided to try the cheese sticks ($5.99), and for our entrées my companion ordered one piece of fried halibut and chips (market priced at $13.99) and I settled on the scallops and chips, with a cup of chowder instead of fries ($11.99).

When the cheese sticks arrived, we could hardly keep our jaws from hitting the table. A huge basket held easily more than a dozen sticks—we’d been expecting maybe four or five. Melty cheese dipped in fresh beer batter … so good, even while thinking about the mess I was making of my normally healthful diet. My cup of soup wasn’t much help either, especially when I caught a whiff of cream and butter, but the large portions of freshly cut veggies and clams did make me feel a little better.

By the time our dinner came, we were already resigned to taking half our meals home with us. The halibut was predictably wonderful, but I was curious about my scallops. They were covered in a bread-crumb coating rather than beer batter, so I knew from the outset this was different from Pelican’s Roost’s other fried delicacies. The breading was thick and its texture rough, an odd match for the small, soft scallops inside. In fact, after a few bites, I decided to rip right through the breading and just dig out the scallops, which were actually cooked quite nicely.

I’d read several reviews at Yelp online about the restaurant before our first visit, and a number of them pointed to poor service. But our servers were courteous and friendly during both meals. In fact, neither of us could find anything lacking, and a packed dining room seemed to indicate that others enjoyed the food and service as well.

Not willing to let one bad dish sour my opinion of this restaurant, I returned twice more for takeout. The first time, for dinner, I ordered the Catch of the Day, a market-price-dependent “generous portion of fresh fish” (my meal came to $19.99), and they were not kidding about generous, either.

Halibut was again on the list, and I couldn’t resist. The plump piece of fish was perfectly grilled and seasoned, and it was served with fresh veggies, bread and two sides—I chose a salad and chowder. The meal was again too much for one sitting and I ended up with a delicious lunch the next day as well.

For my final trip, I had to try the fish tacos, which a friend of mine swears by. For a reasonable price ($2.99 for one or $4.99 for two), I ordered two tacos. What I received was a perfect meal—corn tortillas surrounding large portions of fried cod on a bed of lettuce and cabbage. The salsa was good, but the creamy, spicy sauce they served with it was better.

Breaded scallops aside, Pelican’s Roost is now on the top of my list for seafood in Chico. I’m hooked! It should be mentioned, too, that while the specialty fish is a bit on the pricey side, one can get a good meal for much less with less-exotic seafood—two pieces of Alaskan cod and chips, for example, is just $8.59.