Originally written 11.6.08
The best way to sum this up: A failure on most fronts. Seafood (sans sushi) is not well represented in this city; however, that’s not for lack of options. For those craving "bar" seafood, this is one of the popular choices inside the perimeter. The vibe here is great but the food here, while reasonably priced, is pretty weak.
The restaurant has done a great job of transferring the "feel" from their former location to this spot. The staff is far from pretentious, and you can enjoy the lively crowd that tends to gravitate towards a spot like this. In what was once Element, the space downstairs is open and thematically appropriate. It’s clean and well laid out. The interior upstairs is dominated by a bar, although there are a handful of tables too. Outside, there is a decent sized patio area that wraps around two sides of the building. When the weather outside is nice – this is a fantastic spot to have a drink. Rest assured that Steamhouse will be busy.
Food here has become an utter disappointment. At their Buckhead location, I found the Lobster bisque to be excellent and their seafood to be solid. After several visits to the new edition, it is safe to say that both have slipped. Even in a single bowl – I’ve found the bisque to be consistently inconsistent, but never very good. At best it is bland and inept. I don’t think they chef has heard of sherry before. Some sips are fine (note: I did not say good) while other sips are fishy and pungent. I find myself having to add a lot of pepper and even more oyster crackers. This is not all that different from what has happened to the bisque at Fontaine’s, the Steamhouse sister restaurant in VH. That being said, I’ve found the bisque at Fontaine’s to be downright sickening in recent visits.
The rest of the menu offers little reprieve. The fresh oysters and clams are usually inferior in quality. More than a few times, I find that the oysters have been poorly shucked. They usually taste "okay" and are acceptable for their price point. When I’ve ordered items like the steamed clams, I find an unacceptable amount come closed. I’m wondering how many of those make it onto the raw sample platters, as it is obvious the staff has no idea how to tell if the product is good enough to serve. The lobster roll is now a shell of its’ former self. Let’s just say: the lobster meat is not sushi grade. I’ve found the raw shrimp to be solid and most of their non-seafood fare is par for the course. I will not go so far as to call this food bad on the whole. Rather, it’s just weak.
Between the Steamhouse, Fontaine’s, and Six Feet Under – you have a handful of options for casual seafood within a 3 mile radius. None of them offer particularly good food. I have to give the nod to Six Ft on food quality, but not by much. At the end of the day, Steamhouse is a great place to go for a few drinks, some entertainment, and a careful snacking.
post script – if you are a Vegan/Vegetarian – you’re going to have a tough time.