East Coast Eats dishes taste as good as they smell

The specialty of the house at East Coast Eats? That’s kind of a challenge to pinpoint, since the menu includes subs, salads, pizzas, calzones, seafood, Boston-style roast beef, wraps, sandwiches, burgers, pastas and quesadillas.

But as it turned out, the decision was made for me. You know the story about Lorelei tempting the sailors on the Rhine? Yeah, in this case it wasn’t a mermaid but the scent of frying seafood that called my name. You might not think that would smell all that great, but trust me, at East Coast Eats it did. And unlike Lorelei, who was in actuality a manatee, the reality didn’t disappoint.

From among the selection of Ipswich clams, scallops and shrimp, I chose haddock — which isn’t real common in these parts — specifically the fried haddock sandwich ($7.99). The sandwich bun was large, but the fish fillet was even larger, sweet and mild, the light breading shatteringly crisp around the edges. I asked for the housemade tartar sauce to be served on the side and was glad I did, because the fish was so good that I wouldn’t have wanted anything to overshadow its flavor.

We wandered into beef territory with a steak bomb ($8.99), and it didn’t take me long to figure out the origin of the name of this New England cousin of the Philly cheese steak. This was a long roll — at least 12 inches, I’d say — absolutely stuffed with shredded beef, mushrooms and green onions that had been sauteed until they were nice and soft, all of it bound by an extremely creamy, neutrally flavored white cheese. The only flaw was that the mushrooms had a decided canned flavor and texture, which I’ll concede makes them authentic but which also takes them down a peg from the other ingredients in the sandwich.

Onion rings ($4.29) were advertised as housemade, and I have no doubt they were, because they had all the hallmarks, including onion slices that weren’t factory-uniform and a light, crunchy breading that fell off now and again. The onions themselves weren’t overly sweet (once in a while, it’s nice to encounter onions that taste like onions) and were so good that we actually preferred them without the accompanying housemade sauce.

A pastrami sandwich was served on the same pillowy, cross-hatched bun as the haddock, and again the bun was no match for its filling, which in this case was a tangle of extremely thinly sliced, extremely tender meat. This one was a basket ($8.99), which meant it came with a mountain of crisp fries, and we bumped it up a notch to dinner status by paying $2.50 extra, which brought us a few more onion rings and a Greek side salad (other choices were garden or Caesar). It definitely was worth the $2.50, if only for the salad with a mix of greens, kalamata olives, red onion, tomato, cucumber, herbs and feta, and a dressing with as much personality as Zorba himself.

One caveat: East Coast Eats is a counter-service restaurant, and it’s one that serves in plastic foam and foil, although at these prices it’s kind of tough to complain.

And oh, I guess there should be another caveat: There’s Boston-area sports memorabilia all over the place, so if you’re a Yankees fan, you may not feel real comfortable.

Unless, of course, your imagination runs to manatees.

Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at 383-0474 or email her at hrinella@ reviewjournal.com.

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