Tag Archives: clam chowder

Trendy Seafood: Island Creek Oyster Bar, Boston

7 Sep

I‘d had my eye on the Island Creek Oyster Bar for a while, so we came here for my birthday. It’s got a trendy, yuppy-ish ambiance in the front with a large U-shaped oyster bar and several high-tops. Further back in the restaurant are the tables where a slightly older crowd and families were seated.  The mood was lively with lounge-like music in the background.

Island Creek Oyster Bar (ICOB) - oyster sliderWe started with oyster sliders (ordered individually) – yum!

ICOB - clam chowderThe clam chowder was fantastic – creamy, with tons of fresh clams

ICOB - bluefish cevicheBluefish ceviche.

ICOB - bassThe menu is constantly changing, but the fish entrees are all delicious, served with seasonal vegetables. I had the sea bass over shiitake mushrooms and baby bok choy.

ICOB - bluefishHubby had the bluefish over sweet corn, tomatoes, and a creamy sauce.

ICOB - donut shortcakeThe only disappointment of the night was dessert. Our server spoke highly of the donut shortcake, so we decided to give it a try. It was a stale, dry, plain donut topped with whipped cream and strawberries, surrounded by sweet cereal. It seemed like something a 5-year-old might make.

The Final Word: ICOB is one of my favorite places for seafood in the Boston area. I’m excited to see what creative entrees will be on the menu the next time I go. But I’ll stay away from the desserts!
Island Creek Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Info: Island Creek Oyster Bar, 500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA USA

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Great Chowder Cook-Off 2013

8 Jun

After attending Newport’s Great Chowder Cook-Off last year, I vowed to return. This year, the weather was more cooperative –  Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny day, and chowder fans turned up in droves to sample a plethora of soups. The trick is to buy your “Chowdahead” VIP tickets early, so you can enter the Cook-Off one hour earlier This is the main tent before it opened to regular ticket-holders:

main tent

Here are some yummy highlights, so you’ll know where to dine if you’re in search for some of the best chowder in America.

Stefano's booth

Some of the competitors were veterans from last year, including this year’s winner of the Clam CategoryStefano’s Seafood (Long Beach Island, NJ). Stefano’s had the thickest, creamiest chowder again, though it was much too thick for my taste. Turner Fisheries Restaurant & Bar (Boston, MA) served a terrific gluten-free clam chowder, but my vote goes to Pike Place Chowder (Seattle, WA), for their well-balanced chowder with just the right texture and flavours.

In the Creative Category, The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar (Newport, RI) served the same crab and brie chowder as the year before – it was absolutely delicious, and one of my favorites of the day. (Interestingly, you will find a traditional New England clam chowder on The Mooring’s dinner menu, but not the crab and brie chowder).  It was Octagon Restaurant (Groton, CT) that won this category, with its spicy chowder full of skate, lobster, and alligator in a brothy soup. The flavours reminded me of a hearty chilli with notes of cheddar cheese – definitely a very original and adventurous take on chowder.

In the Seafood Category, my favorite was the chowder by StoneRidge (Mystic, CT), with hints of wine that complemented, but did not overpower, the lobster and scallops.

clam mascotTo round out the day, Amstel Light reps served up beer and  “Vermonster” sliders, with apple, onion, bacon and feta – a delicious combo. Wine, beer, ice cream, and other desserts were plentiful. We watched hungry eaters chow down in a clam cake-eating competition, and snapped photos with mascots. The Chowder Cook-Off is one delicious day in the sun, and you’ll definitely get all the chowder you could possibly want!

O’Grady’s Grill and Bar, Stowe, VT

28 Apr

During the peak season, it can be tough to nab a table for dinner in Stowe, Vermont. Luckily, O’Grady’s Grill and Bar (504 Mountain Road) is large enough that we didn’t need reservations. However, the parking lot is on the small side for a restaurant of this size, and we circled it a couple times before “creating” our own parking spot behind the restaurant building.

As we entered, we were greeted with a smile. Though it calls itself an “Irish pub,” the ambiance is that of an upscale casual restaurant. The menu is a mix of Irish and Italian dishes, ranging from fish and chips to butternut squash risotto. There is something for everyone here.

The clam chowder was light and creamy, with celery, potatoes, and smoked bacon.

O'Grady's Restaurant - clam chowder

The Irish nachos appetizer was a valiant attempt at some sort of Irish-Mexican fusion. The fried potato slices loaded with cheese were ok at first, but became chewy and soft as they got cold. There was also way too much sour cream.

O'Grady's - Irish Nachos

The 14 oz. prime rib special was perfect, served with onion rings, zucchini, and a twice baked potato with bacon, cheese, and sour cream.

O'Grady's - Prime rib

The seafood cioppino had five large shrimp, large clams and mussels in a not-too-spicy tomato broth with tomatoes, onions, roasted red peppers. The toasted garlic-y bread was a bit too hard for my liking, but everything else about this dish was delicious.

O'Grady's - Cioppino

Unfortunately, they had sold out of dark chocolate pumpkin cheesecake when we were ready to order dessert. We got the flourless chocolate cake instead – a light, fluffy triangle with a texture that was a cross between chocolate mousse and cheesecake, served with Baileys cream.

O'Grady's - Flourless Chocolate Cake

The Final Word: Good food at reasonable prices in a comfortable environment and friendly staff. A great place to relax after a day of skiing or hiking at Stowe!

Info: O’Grady’s Grill and Bar, 504 Mountain Road, Stowe, VT, USA

O'Grady's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

Great Chowder Cook-Off 2012

7 Jun

I headed to the Great Chowder Cook-Off in Newport, RI last weekend, and it was a blast! It is supposedly the longest-running all-you-can-eat chowder competition, taking place annually in Newport since the late 1980’s. 21 restaurants competed in 3 categories, serving chowder to thousands of hungry fans.

Here are my favorites:

Clam Category – Stefano’s Seafood (Long Beach Island, NJ) had the thickest, chunkiest, and heartiest white chowder. For me, it was a close second, behind Luke’s Lobster/Hurricane’s Soup (Greene, ME & New York), which had a more balanced texture and was less salty.

Seafood Category – There were many creative takes on chowder outside of the “Creative” category! My favorite was a Thai-inspired chowder by Trio (Narragansett, RI), with clams, crab, carrots, celery, and lemongrass in a coconut broth. Bunratty Manor Hotel, hailing all the way from Ireland, cooked up a delicious white chowder with smoky bacon.

Creative Category – The defending champs of this category won again this year. The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar might have had a slight advantage, being located just down the street from the Newport Yacht Club where the Cook-Off took place, but they served an incredibly smooth crab and brie chowder, with a very original flavour.

The final word: I’ll be back next year!

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