Flagship–Is It?

Flagship Pismo Beach Surpasses Our Expectations! IMG_7243


Dan was cool enough to pose with the plastic fish and fishing pole for a laugh. I love his excellent sense of humor!

Yes, Flagship is kitschy and downright touristy with the paper towel roll and flag atop the metal pole (attached to the table) to get your server’s attention. Yet, mostly, the food was surprisingly tasty! Oddly, the staff prides themselves on the kitchen making fresh potato chips, tortilla chips, and cornbread, yet we could easily tell not everything was made in-house.

Still, we’re not condemning them. We were told by a fellow foodie friend that the manager told him this new place is owned by Compass Health (who also own Mr. Rick’s, Custom House, Ventura Grill, Wooly’s, and the Oyster Loft). Flagship was meant to be “Somewhere in between Wooly’s and the Oyster Loft.” Unfortunately, our friend said: “It was much closer to Wooly’s (meaning closer to fast food than it was to an upscale experience).” So we admit to arriving with low expectations when we visited Flagship for lunch the first visit.

IMG_7249Upon being greeted by a young host at the front desk, he warned us: “It’s our soft opening, and we’re still trying to get everything together.” We said we understood. But our expectations fell lower upon the first taste of the clam chowder bowl (cup/$5, bowl/$6, and bread bowl/$8). It tasted overwhelmingly of raw flour. That’s because the cook didn’t allow the roux to cook long enough, and that bitter flavor of raw flour overwhelmed the delicate flavors of the clams and potatoes, as well as the overly thick sauce (from too much flour).


Not even the addition of several shakes of the El Tapatio hot sauce could hide that horrible raw flour taste. After two spoonfuls, we couldn’t stomach it! IMG_7260

With that “soup” in mind we had doubts about our upcoming orders. Happily, the rest of our order totally impressed us. In fact, that was the best ahi steak sandwich I’ve had, despite not liking the pickled ginger within it. I simply removed the ginger from the sandwich and ate it separately.

IMG_7257The freshly-fried potato chips on the plate were impossible to resist ($12). And I’d go back for that tasty sando in a hot minute.

Dan had the “jerk salmon,” which wasn’t blackened as described but it was a deliciously fresh, grilled salmon filet over a tasty salad of greens with pineapple-jicama slaw, avocado, toasted almonds, and a ginger vinaigrette ($16).


IMG_7272The second visit he had the salmon again but with the Asian salad, which was very fresh. The gigantic salad had plenty of greens, red and green cabbage, almonds, Mandarin orange segments, green onions, and crispy wonton strips, all tossed in a sesame dressing ($14). Dan couldn’t finish either salad but the salmon disappeared. He said later he preferred the jerk salmon salad, but both were very good. IMG_7248

Our friend Steve dined with us the first lunch, and he had the chowder and the poke bowl from the “favorites” list on the menu. He gave me a piece of the ahi poke to taste, and it was delicious, perfectly seasoned with their poke dressing ($14). I must say it was big enough to satisfy anyone for lunch with the greens, red onion, avocado, seaweed salad, pickled ginger, sesame seeds, all atop sticky rice. Dan ordered the Stephen Ross Pinot Noir on tap, which we shared with Steve. As of then, the bar only featured a limited number of local wines, all on tap, but it’s a full bar for cocktails and craft brews on tap.


To our waiter Brandon’s credit, when he saw that we didn’t eat the undercooked chowders he had the manager take it off our bill without requiring us to ask. We rewarded him well for that in the tip. And he did come up to us after lunch while we were talking to the manager. He shook Dan’s hand, and said: “Thank you, sir!”

On our second visit for lunch the next day, we tried the crab cakes made up of lump crab meat, jalapeno, and cornmeal, served atop way too much lemon aioli with the pineapple-jicama slaw on top ($15). The cakes had a very spicy edge, likely to be Old Bay seafood seasoning and I thought it was too strong. It wasn’t a fave.


Because I liked the poke dressing the first visit, we tried the tuna poke ($12) in the appetizer section which comes with the freshly-fried tortilla chips and potato chips. It was very good but had enough chips for a party of six. I still liked it, and the ahi portion is generous.

The last dish I ordered was the fish tacos with Alaskan cod, grilled instead of tempura-battered and fried, on crisped flour tortillas ($13). They were topped with cabbage, pineapple-jicama slaw, and chipotle cream. I didn’t like it very much at all. Even worse was the tinny-tasting salsa, which I was so glad they put in a ramekin. I told them so on the soft-opening card, and described it as inedible.


We’d give it three stars out of five, so far (after all, they are in the soft opening stage). We hope they continue to improve, we could really use another “good” restaurant in Pismo Beach!









1601 Price St. (in the former Steamer’s space)

Pismo Beach, CA 93449


Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The webpage address is www.pismoflagship.com, but currently it only tells they are hiring for kitchen and front positions.

6 comments for “Flagship–Is It?

  1. Matt
    May 1, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    So fun to read your reviews. Honest. I like how you pick each dish apart and rate them individually instead of the place as a whole. Hope to see you both soon.


    • May 1, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      Thank you so much, Matt. I truly appreciate your thoughtful note. You probably won’t be surprised to hear I let them know the same thing on their soft-opening comment cards each time. My friends Steve told me the chowder was improved when he returned on Saturday. I’m sure we’ll be at your next pick-up wine party!

    • Ashley
      May 4, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      Cat…A terrific, detailed review and background information on Flagship…You are the best & have taste buds I only dream about. I hope your suggestions are appreciated. The view from the booths is one of my favorites on the coast…an old hangout when it was Steamer’s, so I hope it’s a place I can enjoy again. Sounds as though they’ll make it happen. Thank you!

      • admin
        May 4, 2017 at 6:38 pm

        Thanks so much, Ashley. I’m sure you will find much to like about it, as Dan and I did.

  2. Betsy Albanese
    May 2, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    I think Kathy was more than fair…..this is an established corp.that has had numerous successful culinary openings. Her comments were not about dissing the complexities and nuances of the dishes…they were about fundamentals ANY beginning chef should know!

    From a retired chef who knows!

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