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Oliverís Seafood Haven Serving Up Sumptuous Southern Seafood, and Features a Fresh Fish Market Too! by Bill Coburn
Oliverís Seafood Haven, located at 454 E. Duarte Road in Monrovia (626) 303-7334, is a family run seafood restaurant and fish market. Donna and Donald Oliver, with daughter Danielle, began their operation out of their home in Pasadena, catering to local businesses and schools, calling it ďFish Friday.Ē They began doing so well, that they soon needed larger quarters, and before long they found them at the Duarte Road location, between Myrtle Ave. and Mountain Ave.. They opened Oliverís Seafood Haven in November, and despite the somewhat out of the way location, they are building up a loyal following.
Oliverís is open every day but Monday, and serves breakfast from 7am till 11am. The breakfast menu includes standards such as eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and their own special home fries, or you can substitute grits for the home fries.
I stopped in with my wife the other day for lunch. Now some of you may have figured out that unlike many people who write about restaurants, who will try practically anything on a menu, Iím kind of a picky eater. Iíve mentioned several times that I donít like tomatoes, but what you donít know is that Iím one of those people who rarely tries anything new. I know what I like, and Iíd rather eat something I know I like, than try something I donít know about, and risk ending up with a meal I donít want. That may go back to growing up as one of ten kids, when it was ingrained in me that you donít waste food. Since I donít want to waste food, Iíd end up eating a meal I donít like, and at my age, Iíd just prefer to order a known quantity and avoid eating a meal I donít want.
On a previous visit, Donna and I were discussing my taste in seafood, and when I mentioned that I had always enjoyed red snapper, and that Iíd always had it broiled, Donna told me that she was going to make me fried snapper, so Iíd know what Iíd been missing. So thatís what I ordered, with fries. My wife ordered Dover sole, with yams. Lunches come with French fries, cornbread and hush puppies, dinners also include bread and hush puppies, plus two side dishes. I mentioned that breakfast side orders include grits, and that lunches have hush puppies. Yes, this is southern food folks, lunch and dinner side dish options even include collard greens. Donna tells me that these are family recipes, and that daughter Danielle has really improved some of the familyís recipes.
As I said, I donít like to try new things. But when Donna brought out my meal, she had included a piece of fried catfish with my snapper. I wasnít going to get out of this place without trying new stuff, so I decided to go with the flow. I ate some of my wifeís yams Ė and they were delicious. Now you may find it hard to believe that I havenít had yams before, and you may be right, I probably have, when I was about 8 or so, but never since. Iím a creature of habit. But now my habits will include yams, at least when Iím at Oliverís Seafood Haven. And another new habit will be catfish, thanks to Donna. It was delicious, light, and flaky; in fact I told my wife it almost seemed like it melted in my mouth. It wasnít at all what I had expected. I had expected it to be much heavier, and much fishier tasting. It was a tasty surprise. I also tried my wifeís sole. Now Iíd had sole before, as well, but always sautťed amandine, so this was new to me. too. All of the fish we had came in a cornmeal ďbatterĒ and deep fried. It was all delicious, and weíll be going back soon. The $6.50 price was extremely reasonable with all the food we got, and some of their lunch items, such as sandab, whiting and buffalo (yes, itís fish), are even less expensive, at just $5.00. The dinner menu, which also includes various seafood combos, perch and shrimp entrees, ranges in price from $6.50 to $13.99, with most items around $8, and all but two items under $10.00. Those two items, a Jumbo Shrimp dinner (8 pieces) for $10.99 and a Shrimp, Oyster, Fish Combo (with half a jar of oysters, 5 pieces of fish and medium shrimp) for $13.99 seem to be well worth the slightly higher dinner price.
Oliverís has a couple of other interesting features. For people who donít want to order a complete lunch, they have a policy of you buy, we fry. Order some fish from the fish market, and theyíll prepare the piece(s) you picked, for a slight extra charge. One gentleman came in while we were there, and said, Iíll have that piece right there, but you fry it up and put it on some wheat bread for me, okay?Ē No problem.
Another interesting feature is their family dinners menu. You can get 1 lb. red snapper, 1 lb. dover sole, 1 lb. catfish filet, 1 lb. medium shrimp and two sides for $30.76 plus tax, or you can upgrade to jumbo shrimp. They also have family dinners with 2lbs., and 5lbs./3lbs. quantities. For the complete menu, including the family dinners, you can find Oliverís Seafood Haven online at www.sangabrielvalleymenus.com/seafoodhaven.htm. As always, if you find it easier, you can just go to sangabrielvalleymenus.com, and click on their link.
Oliverís is also a fresh fish market, and you can purchase most of the seafood items on their menu by the pound. When I was there, they were offering red snapper, catfish, buffalo, whiting and sandab. Oysters, shrimp (medium, jumbo and prawns) were available as well.
Worried that your child or someone else in your party might not be a seafood fan? Donít be. There are hamburger specials and chicken wing specials for the ďnon-aquaticĒ eater.
If youíre in the mood for some southern seafood, I can recommend Oliverís Seafood Haven. I know I enjoyed it, and will definitely be making a return trip. See you there!!
Bill Coburn is owner of SanGabrielValleyMenus.com, a restaurant website featuring dozens of restaurantís menus, as well as downloadable coupons. He has nearly 20 years experience in the restaurant business, and has been eating for much longer than that.
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