High Tide Seafood Bar & Grill, which specializes in a rare technique called steam kettle cooking, has opened on the southwest corner of Val Vista and Williams Field in Gilbert.
In steam kettle cooking, a boiler pumps pressurized steam to a series of stainless-steel kettles. Compared to range-top cooking, steam kettles cook faster and more evenly. Then there’s the exhibition factor.
At High Tide, the six steam kettles are mounted on the 28-person, horseshoe-shaped bar (see below). Nearby is a display of mussels, oysters, and other seafood, as well as various sauces and additions.
Order the cioppino, for example, and you can watch as the shrimp, mussels, clams, Alaskan cod, calamari , fennel, tomato, and white wine sauce are loaded into a kettle. Two or three minutes later – presto! – your dinner is ready.
Besides cioppino, High Tide offers three other steam-kettle specialities – including its bestseller, “The King” ($25), with king crab legs, scallops, and salmon in a saffron cream sauce – and four steam-kettle appetizers.
High Tide is the brainchild of Chris Glass, who retired in January after 31 years as a sales rep for Sysco foodservice products. Glass got the idea of steam kettle cooking from a former client, Talking Stick Resort, which may be the only other place in the Valley doing it.
“I found myself being drawn back there to eat more and more often,” he says. (Not that cooking with steam is a new concept. It’s rare because the steam kettles alone cost about $3,000 apiece.)
Glass hired chef Eric Emlet from Superstition Mountain Country Club to head the kitchen of his stylish 5,500-square-old eatery.
In addition to the steam-kettle specialties, Emlet is especially proud of the Grilled Skuna Bay Salmon ($21), featuring craft-raised salmon from a small, family-owned supplier in Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Emlet makes all his sauces in-house, and sources many of his ingredients locally, including bread from Wildflower and Capistrano’s, and pepper-cured bacon and a special razz cherry summer sausage from The Pork Shop.
Besides “The King” (pictured), the other most popular menu item is the Lobster Mac ’n’ Cheese ($15), an appetizer made with a three-cheese blend and buttery bread crumbs.
Non-seafood lovers also have plenty of menu options – such as burgers, chicken breast, and steak – all complemented by a full bar of specialty cocktails, wines, and craft beers (10 taps, plus bottles and cans).
Happy hour runs 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. Deals include $2.50 domestic pints, $3.50 craft pints, $4 house wines and premium well drinks, and $5 martinis. Appetizers are $2 off.
High Tide is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.