Chowder Reviews: Gilbert’s, Susan’s, The Farmer’s Table, Old Port Sea Grill, J’s Oyster Bar, Fishermen’s Grill

For this months collaborative food blogging project the group decided to focus on a classic New England dish: Chowder. Not that clear seafood broth that Rhode Islanders claim is chowder or the tomato inflected concoction the they call chowder in New York but the real deal hearty New England chowder. The perfect comfort food for cold, wet and rainy days on the coast.

As you’ll read below the experiences ran the gamut from the chowder that should have been better but wasn’t (Gilbert’s) to the chowder that wasn’t expected to be good but was (Susan’s) and everything in between. Also this month we have a perfect illustration of how dedicated Portland food bloggers are to their craft, Anna @ Instant Portland risked anaphylactic shock due to a seafood allergy to contribute to this month’s topic.

Edible ObsessionsGilbert’s Chowder House

It’s disappointing because I’ve had some wonderful chowder on past visits to Gilbert’s. Perhaps the high turnover in the summer months just makes for a better, and fresher, chowder. Either way, this one fell short of my expectations and failed to impress V. on her first visit in. read the full article

From AwaySusan’s Fish and Chips

Sure, it’s a little grimy, with about as much ambiance as you’d find if you decided to eat a seafood dinner in the back of a bus station. Where Susan’s surprises, however, is in its expertly-fried seafood and chowder which has no reason to be as fresh and expertly prepared as it is, served at a price point that seems like a holdover from the 1980s. I’ve paid easily twice as much for a fried clam or haddock dinner at other, perhaps more scenic establishments, and been much, much less pleased with the overall experience than I was with the food served at Susan’s Fish & Chips. read the full article

Instant PortlandThe Farmer’s Table

The haddock chowder was perfectly cooked – each ingredient had achieved a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness while still retaining their basic structural integrity and individual flavor profiles. The dish was amazingly rich, and half-way through the bowl the flavor became almost too buttery, but the judicious application of a little pepper brought everything back into balance and left me warmed through and satisfied. read the full article

The Blueberry FilesOld Port Sea Grill

Being that A. is actually from Maine (woooo), and therefore an expert on chowders, moose, and the ocean, I grilled him on his definition of a good chowder. He said, lots of seafood, thick (like can stand a spoon up in it), and a good tasting broth. While this chowder didn’t meant the density criteria, it stood up on all other accounts. The broth was nice and flavorful, it had lots of bacon and clams, cute little slices of fingerling potatoes, and a nice little mince of carrots and celery on top. read the full article

Vin et GrubJ’s Oyster Bar

I ordered two different chowders on my most recent trip to J’s. Their version of clam chowder and a fish chowder. I didn’t like either. The clam chowder, which was supposed to have bacon, was incredibly bland. It only took three or four readjustment of seasoning for me to be relatively pleased. Here’s what was upsetting– the clams were small, the potatoes were overcooked, and thus the chowder fell short. It was one note to say the very least– definitely not horrific, just incredibly mediocre. read the full article

Vrai-lean-uhFishermen’s Grill

Happily, the chowder was amazing. I honest-to-God did not think this was going to happen. I thought it would be mediocre and I would write a long thing about how chowder from restaurants anywhere is terrible and extoll the benefits of cooking from scratch. But it was really, really good chowder. The top was sprinkled generously with black pepper and minced parsley and there were tons of big chunks of not-overcooked clam. The chowder was thick, but creamy and smooth, not starchy or gluey and wonderfully flavorful. The marble rye was amply buttered. It was so good. I instantly regretted not ordering a bowl. read the full article

As for my recommendations I’d suggest you try the haddock chowder at Caiola’s or if your looking for something a little different the haddock and rice soup topped with celery leaves on the specials menu at Boda.

4 comments on “Chowder Reviews: Gilbert’s, Susan’s, The Farmer’s Table, Old Port Sea Grill, J’s Oyster Bar, Fishermen’s Grill

  1. Tom’s Fried Clams in York has the best clam chowder I’ve ever had. They have a fisherman’s stew as a special once in a while that is really good too.

  2. One of the best fish chowders i’ve ever had was at Local Sprouts one evening maybe a mpnth ago.

    Creamy with bacon, onions, and potaoes — just the right amount of pepper.

    It was perfect with a side of wheat toast with real butter. Ymmmmm!

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