Indulge with these local fried seafood favorites
It’s hard to beat New England seafood, especially during the summer. And while freshly caught lobster, shrimp, and haddock are delicious when delicately prepared, nothing beats a good old-fashioned deep-frying. From fried fish sandwiches to fried clams, here is where to get your fried seafood fix this summer.
The dish: Haddock Nuggets
Where to find it: The Beach Plum
2800 Lafayette Road (Route 1), Portsmouth; 11 Brickyard Square (Route 125), Epping
Why it’s worth trying: Haddock nuggets are basically the adult (and much more delicious) version of those other nuggets sold at fast-food chains. These fresh, deep-fried delights are sold at The Beach Plum’s Portsmouth and Epping locations, in pint- or quart-size. If you’re feeling extra hungry, order a bowl of clam chowder to help wash down the meal.
The dish: Smelt Dinner
Where to find it: Windjammer’s Seafood Restaurant
240 Portland St., Rochester
Why it’s worth trying: Smelts weren’t always on Windjammer’s seafood-laden menu, but after numerous diners requested it, these small sea creatures were added. “I think that, for many people, they are a treat that they would never prepare at home, and they do not often find them in other seafood restaurants,” said Kim Seckendorf, owner. The smelts are hand-breaded to order, and come with your choice of side.
The dish: Newick’s Famous Seafood Platter
Where to find it: Newick’s Lobster House
431 Dover Point Road, Dover; 317 Loudon Road, Concord
Why it’s worth trying: Any restaurant that boasts the motto “we’ll fry almost anything” is worthy of a visit. Especially when that same restaurant offers a seafood platter, piled high with fried fish. Newick’s Famous Seafood Platter comes with fresh dry-packed sea scallops, whole clams, baby shrimp, and North Atlantic haddock. In case that’s not enough food, patrons also get their choice of French fries or chips and coleslaw on the side.
The dish: Fish & Chips
Where to find it: Johnson’s Seafood and Steak
69 State Route 11; New Durham; 1334 1st NH Turnpike (Route 4), Northwood
Why it’s worth trying: Fish and chips just taste better in the summer. Johnson’s Seafood and Steak’s version showcases a hand-battered haddock fillet with homemade tartar sauce for necessary dipping – and, of course, French fries. Wash the meal down with an ice cold craft beer from Johnson’s extensive draft list (especially at the Northwood location). You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to London in no time.
The dish: Fried Oysters
Where to find it: Petey’s Summertime Seafood and Bar
1323 Ocean Boulevard, Rye
Why it’s worth trying: If the texture of a raw oyster doesn’t agree with your palate, a fried oyster will make you an instant fan of these tasty mollusks. At Petey’s, patrons can enjoy fried oysters as an appetizer with cocktail or tartar sauce, or as a meal, where they’re served with French fries (a side of Petey’s famous coleslaw can also be added for an additional $1.69). If you’re visiting to feast, try one of Petey’s many lobster dishes as well; they catch their own here.
The dish: Fried Clams
Where to find it: Brown’s Lobster Pound
407 NH Highway 286, Seabrook
Why it’s worth trying: No fried seafood list is complete without a mention of fried clams. And at Brown’s, the fried clams are really something special. The clams are first dipped in an egg wash, then they’re dredged in flour, then they go back in the egg wash before being dunked in cracker crumbs. The end result are fried clams that aren’t weighed down with batter and grease – just plump clams coated in a light, crunchy texture.
Photo at right courtesy of Brown's Lobster Pound.
The dish: Fried Lobster
Where to find it: The Lobster Boat Restaurant
453 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack; 273 Derry Road, Litchfield; 75 Portsmouth Ave., Exeter
424-5221; 882-4988; 583-5183
Why it’s worth trying: Fresh lobster dipped in melted butter or mixed with mayonnaise and piled high on a hot dog bun are both delicious, but deep-fried lobster might just have them beat. At The Lobster Boat, diners can get a plate of straight-up fried lobster, or lobster with shrimp for a bit more variety (if you’re feeling extra adventurous, come up with your own two-way combo). All fried dinners are served with French fries and coleslaw for a balanced summer meal.
The dish: The Surf Fleuben
Where to find it: Surf Restaurant
207 Main St., Nashua; 99 Bow St., Portsmouth
Why it’s worth trying: If you’re looking for a fried seafood treat that’s a little less traditional, head over to Surf in Nashua or Portsmouth. Their Surf Fleuben – a riff on the Reuben sandwich – is comprised of crispy fried flounder on grilled rye bread with Cabot cheddar and Thousand Island dressing.
Michelle Lahey is a food writer who was born and raised in New Hampshire. She also blogs about food at www.ahoppymedium.blogspot.com.