Tried-and-true Pelican’s: Locally owned, the surf-and-turf restaurant has two locations

The cedar-planked salmon with asparagus at Pelican’s West. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Because Pelican’s West is next-door neighbor to Outback Steakhouse on Coors Blvd., you might think it was a chain. Not true. Pelican’s has a sibling in the Heights, and it is a local establishment.

However, it does have the anonymous, well ironed feel of a chain restaurant, with a nautical spin. Spacious booths with brass railings; dim, almost dreamlike lighting, and walls decorated with abstract prints of tropical fish mean all that is lacking is the occasional bellow of a foghorn.

Despite the name and its location next to a steakhouse, Pelican’s prides itself on steak and prime rib, which sells out early.

However, on a recent rainy Sunday night, we went in search of a fish dinner, and Pelican’s, as advance research showed, receives fresh fish shipments twice weekly, so seemed the place to go.

The fresh bread with roasted garlic in olive oil was pretty good, and the New England clam chowder ($4.95-$6.95) was well seasoned and of a pleasing consistency, neither too thick nor too thin. I wouldn’t put it up against Legal Seafood, but, hey, this is Albuquerque, not Boston. So far, so good.

The problem was the broccoli. My companion’s salad arrived with a giant uncut raw stalk of it on top, and I could only hope this was not the beginning of the “Endless Salad Bowl” ($6.95). Choice of soup or salad and side vegetable are included with all entrees.

My companion’s cedar-planked Atlantic salmon ($22.95) was artfully prepared, tender and moist, yet cooked through, with a hint of sweet glaze. It came with rice and a cup of what seemed to be a melted butter dipping sauce.

My charbroiled bacon-wrapped scallops ($23.95) looked like a meager portion, but were actually so meaty that it was a bit of a chore to take knife and fork and get through them. This hearty method of preparation defies the essence of the scallop, which is delicate.

Here, the scallops’ sweet flavor is overpowered, so much so that they tasted more like en masse mystery tidbits from a strolling waiter’s tray at a reception than a well prepared individual entree.

Again, the problem was the broccoli. Mine exuded the distinctive scent of broccoli beyond its prime; when you know it’s been too long since you cleaned the refrigerator’s vegetable bin. I alerted our waitperson, who could not have been kinder, then whisked it away, and immediately asked what other side I would prefer. The baked potato that appeared was all a baked potato should be.

Unfortunately, the salmon was not sitting well with my companion, who had indulged in the butter sauce. We were in no mood for dessert, so we left without sampling the mud pie or the key lime pie ($6.95).

Ordinarily, I would have planned another visit to sample the beef offerings but somehow, after our experience, couldn’t fit it into my schedule.

Early bird specials, served 5-6:30 p.m., portend a bargain but in actuality only knock the prices down a couple of bucks for smaller portions. If you have any questions about that, contact Jerry Seinfeld.

Wine and martini specials are offered during the week.

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