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“Carry plenty of cash.”

Carine's Fish Grotto
Ranked #63 of 85 Restaurants in Fort Bragg
Cuisines: American, Seafood, Soups, Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine, Families with children
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Waitstaff
midwest
Level Contributor
24 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Carry plenty of cash.”
Reviewed September 4, 2013

At one time years ago, we fell for the charm of dockside eating with grandma and her sons. Sure, there were some minuses--no mixed drinks, house wine only, no credit card accepted. This year, we were shocked at the menu prices, but counted on the food to be extra good. We each ordered a bowl of clam chowder and a glass of house wine. The bill for these four items was $38--$9 for each chowder, $7.50 each glass of wine, and $5 for we know not what. The bread, maybe, that was supposed to be included? The chowder was just a bowl of white sauce with tiny bits of clam and a potato chunk or two floating in it. It needed salt and pepper just to give it any flavor at all. Worst bowl of chowder I've ever had.
And, we were dumb enough to leave a tip "for the boys" in the basket Mama Carine pressed on us. So long, Carine's, it's been good to know ya.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank fiberart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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137 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    35
    36
    15
    23
    28
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Northern California
Level Contributor
60 reviews
26 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Family owned and great quality”
Reviewed September 3, 2013

I have been going to this place since I discovered it 10years back. Its owned by a very nice italian family. The motherly lady w her once black hair up in a bum greets u at the door, sincerly complimenting you and suggesting great food items. If u go during certain times of the year like august, and sit out on the back deck you can see baby and adult sea lions swimming, sea gulls, boats of all sizes, and the occassional boater brining up his catch for the day near by. Not a lot of options for a vegeterian along the coast of course, more specialties are their famous 1pd hamburger, and clam chouder. But they do have a green salad and french fries. And can offer up grilled vegies. Options for kids too, like p b and j, grilled cheese etc. When u walk in there r pictures they took w the famous people who attended their restraunt, like goldie hawn when she filmed in over board at the restaurant near by. Its not high end, fancy small amount of decorative food. Its real home cooked large amount food. W a friendly atmosphere and very kid friendly.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank danilla3comet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
“Egads!”
Reviewed September 2, 2013

No no no.... Nice spot on the wharf, been there since 1947 the sign says, but, can't figure out how they have not learned to cook, serve, or run a restaurant. The "boys" ( owner's sons/waitstaff) need to be out on a fishing boat, not serving public. The place smelled sour when we walked in, so decided to just try a cup of the chowder.... No no no..... overpriced bowl of white gravy!!! This place has just become a tourist trap. Retire and give someone else a chance to make use of the sweet spot on the harbor.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Xionpinnacle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
N. Calif.
Level Contributor
40 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“They can do better.”
Reviewed August 19, 2013

My wife and I decided to stop and have lunch before heading home, we usually eat at the Blue Heron. I am in agreement with the other reviews-it has become a tourust trap. There are definitely better places to dine in Fort Bragg.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank woodzyN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pleasant Hill, California
Level Contributor
50 reviews
22 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Truly awful service, bad food”
Reviewed August 11, 2013

It's very difficult for me to write a bad review. I don't like doing it, especially when 80 year old owner Bessie Carine seems so well-intentioned. But I also feel it's my duty to let people know how truly awful this place is. We enjoyed a nice dinner and great, blue collar atmosphere at Carine's years ago, so when we were back in the Fort Bragg area recently, we wanted to to eat there again.

There were two male wait staff, a guy around 60 (I'll refer to him as "Butch"), and a guy who is, maybe, 40 (I'll call him Lenny). Bessie referred to them as "the boys". As we walked through the bar area, Butch stuck his head through an opening to the dining room and said, "Come on in." That seemed friendly enough. There was hardly anyone in the place. I noticed the floor wasn't very clean. My sweetheart said, "It looks like the bloom is off the rose." Why oh why did we not pay attention to these signs??? I ordered Rock cod in lemon sauce and capers, salad, baked potato, and a glass of house wine. Butch informed us that there were no baked potatoes that night. Only mashed. Since mashed potatoes weren't on the menu, we were delightedly surprised to get them and said that'd be great.

Time passed. A basked of cold bread was delivered. Quite a long while later, a salad was plopped down in front of me. I had ordered vinaigrette dressing on the side, but the cup contained ranch. I told Lenny it was the wrong dressing, and he said, "Did you change your mind?" With a huff, Lenny took the salad way. He gave it to Butch and they had a little conversation. Then Butch went into the kitchen. I could see him talking to the chef, who looked like the only person in the kitchen besides Butch. Butch picked up another little cup of salad dressing and continued his conversation with the chef. After another long time, the salad was returned to me with a cup of cheap tasting red wine vinegar and oil.

While we were waiting, I noticed the other diners were complaining to the wait staff about not getting something, or getting the wrong thing. There was a lot of discussion going on between Butch and Lenny. I also noticed that diners got a little dish of ice cream, gratis, after dinner. See, it's not all bad.

Finally, our dinners were delivered. I reminded Butch that I'd ordered a glass of wine, which Lenny delivered about five minutes later. Instead of mashed potatoes, there were baked potatoes. We told Butch we thought we were getting mashed. With a grimace, he slouched into the kitchen to retrieve the chef, whom he dragged to our table. I was dumbstruck, and further astounded when the chef apologized as though he was a naughty child for not having mashed potatoes available. It was really embarrassing. My sweetie asked the chef if he could substitute french fries for the potato and the chef went off to make the fries as atonement for his sin. I was happy enough with the baked potato.

Now, I know some people who will eat at places with poor service because they love the great food... but the food at Carine's was every bit as bad as the service. The rock cod was as flavorless as the sauce it was drenched in. We were in a locale known for its fresh rock cod, we got fish that I think was frozen. The texture didn't seem right and it was, truly, lacking in flavor. Despite the capers, the sauce was also tasteless, thin - and awful.

As we neared the end of the meal, my sweetie's french fries were delivered. They came in a large bowl, enough for a party of four.

We finished up and not wanting the ice cream went to the cash register where Bessie is stationed. She is an elderly Italian woman, and the heir to her parents' restaurant. There's a sweetness and and an air of stoic suffering about her. I wanted to give her a hug. She found our check and gave it to us. It was for $87.00. We noticed we were charged for three glasses of wine instead of one. Bessie apologized profusely and amended the check. We still ended up paying $67.70. Yikes! And in my book, $9.00 for a glass of house wine is definitely too high.

So there you have it.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Nancy H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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