By Cassandra VanKeuren Special to the Herald
Is the newly remodeled Ivar’s Seafood Bar on 41st Street in Everett the same Ivar’s you have always loved?
Is it the same place to get a fast chowder or fish-and-chips fix?
Of course it is, but with some much-needed improvements. There is a fun new interior, some lighter menu items and a new Coca Cola freestyle soda fountain.
Oh, and a giant clam gracing the roof of the restaurant.
My husband and I went to check out the new decor and try some of the new menu items.
My husband tried the crab cake sandwich made with Dungeness and snow crabmeat ($8.29). The first thing that was apparent was the fresh baked bread. So tasty.
The sandwich was traditionally dressed with lettuce and tomato and a garlic aioli. The cake itself struck the right balance of crab flavor and economic price. My husband enjoyed it greatly.
I chose the Copper River salmon dinner with a cup of soup, cornbread muffin and rice pilaf. I ordered the salmon to be cooked to medium-well.
That induced a little nudge from my husband, who thought that I should not be making requests on how my salmon was cooked at a fast-food restaurant. I thought that if I am going to pay $14.99 for salmon, I want it cooked to my preference.
My salmon chowder (50 cents extra) came out first. It was different than I remembered — a lot like their clam chowder but with salmon instead. I asked if they had changed the recipe and they had in April.
I liked the old recipe better; it had more of a smoked salmon flavor.
I received my food on a warmed dinner plate (other food is served in baskets) with a large portion of salmon, maybe 8 ounces. I was impressed.
The salmon was cooked beautifully moist on the inside and grilled nicely on the outside. Ivar’s did take my doneness to heart and did cook the salmon to medium well. I can’t say that much for other higher-end seafood restaurants. The seasoning was simple: a modest amount of salt and a lemon on the side.
Ivar’s had eight types of sauces to dress up meals. Two that I had not seen before at the restaurant were garlic oil and red pepper sauce (mild Tabasco, I think).
The cornbread muffin was made in the northern style, slightly sweet and cakelike.
As for the rice pilaf, it was average. Not bad, a good filler to round out the meal. But the Copper River salmon was the real star. I would definitely order it again.
My son’s meal was fish (cod, I think) and chips ($5.39). There’s not much to say about it other than it was really tasty. One of my son’s favorites.
I was impressed that the fry was lightly brown. This tells me that they change their fry oil often. A big plus in my book.
I went back the next day because I didn’t feel like I got a good sample of their new menu items. This time around I tried the fish tacos ($4.99) and the red clam chowder ($3.59).
The fish tacos are served with a grilled flour tortilla and with chipotle coleslaw on the bottom of the taco. The cod seemed to be lightly seasoned and grilled. Overall a good lunch but I would have preferred more spice. I guess that is what the red pepper sauce is for.
The red chowder has a tomato-based broth with bits of potato and clam. Very nice if you don’t like creamy soups.
Ivar’s new offerings include freshly made bread for the bread bowls, a salmon, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, and a salad of shrimp and soba noodles.
Ivar’s has always been a fun place to take your family. Everything is made to order.
I really like the oldies playing in the dining room, the comfortable booths, the friendly, helpful staff and the vintage prints of Ivar himself.
The remodel had just added a spiffy new look to a Puget Sound institution. It has also successfully delivered some lighter fare.
Ivar’s Seafood Bar
1520 41st St., Everett; 425-252-9292; www.ivars.com.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to 11p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Vegetarian offerings: Limited.