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Aug 23, 2007 08:34 AM

Best Boston Seafood Dinner - definition pleeze. (Moved from Boston)

Searching the boards, and I often see posts regarding where to get the best seafood and am never quite sure how to respond.

This question is confusing to me. Best seafood would be fried or broiled, steamed or raw - lobster, shrimp, scallops, steamers, littlenecks, cherrystones, oysters, mussels. A great chowder starter, corn on the cob, sausage.....

I have enjoyed tuna at ECG, marlin at Neptune, and Fra Diavlo at Giaccamos - oysters and clams on the half shell all over the place. None of these have the best "Seafood Dinner" but do know how to treat fish and seafood properly.

So, has the definition changed regarding fish vs seafood, or do people not understand the difference?

Curious to offer advice, but can't define that advice.

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    1. I am not sure what is confusing you. Seafood is ALL fish done ALL ways. It does not have to include corn on the cob or sausage- I think you are confusing those items with "clam bakes." Clam bakes are usually one of those fun summer events you go to/invited to and they usually include clams, scallops, schrod/haddock or cod, mussles, lobster, shrip, corn on the cob, sausage and is either steamed in large pots or done buried in the sand on the beach. Most restaurants do not have a "clambake" dinner or plates.
      I think when people say "seafood dinner" they mean either a great scallop dinner or broiled schrod dinner or any other "dinner entree" that consisted of fish. It can be fried/ broiled, steamed, baked or cooked in numerous manners but all include FISH. A seafood platter is usally a fried food dish and will have 2-3 different fish included such as clams, scallops and haddock/schrod with fries and rings.
      Not sure if this helps any.

      8 Replies
        1. re: Dax

          That is surprising, because having spent the last 40 years in NewEngland, it is my understanding that seafood = shellfish. Fish is fish. Haddock is Haddock, Cod is Cod and Scrod is catch of the day be it Scrod = cod or Schrod = haddock. And scallop is always pronounce scaaaawlup, not skaaaah-lip.

          That said, when a visitor is requesting the best boston seafood dinner, I would never consider they may be looking for the best flown in ahi, marlin, grouper, hallibut or salmon.

          I'm not sure why you don't see what is confusing me.

          1. re: gyppielou

            I don't know which part of New England you've spent 40 years in - perhaps you have a regional difference I'm not familar with. However, I'll see your 40 years and raise it to 52 years in Boston. Seafood in my dictionary means all live food that comes from the sea, and includes both fish and shellfish; I'll grant you that one might distingush between restaurants that serve the best LOCAL seafood and those who do well with a wide range including the imported goods, but it's all seafood unless it's perch, trout, or walleye.

            And nobody in my family says "scaaaaawlup." That has always sounded kind of weird to me.

            1. re: Allstonian

              Well happy 92 Allstonian, you look good for your age.

              I'm not even making any of this up, and perhaps someone will show up that was taught the same thing of seafood vs fish. Until then, do you have the same def for scrod??? And how do you spell that shellfish, anyway? Lucy?

              1. re: gyppielou

                Sheesh - I said raise it *to* 52, not raise it 52. I spell schrod or scrod whichever way comes to mind at the moment but frankly rarely use the term unless a restaurant menu forces me to, and yes, it's catch of the day. Sorry I can't support your argument about "seafood", but I never heard of your definition before today.

                1. re: Allstonian

                  I was taught the difference in spelling back in the day when I waitressed summers down the cape. Back then, that's how those in the know knew what the catch of the day was.

                  Some comments here are unsettling. Nothing bizarre about my post. Perhaps I can find something significant from Ms Childs notes or Mr Whites notes.

                  Really, I am not making this stuff up! And would love someone to show up, as it is disconcerting to be have my thoughts considered silly more than once.

                  1. re: gyppielou

                    Oxford press dictionary defines seafood
                    A general term to include crustaceans and shellfish, sometimes also fish.

        2. re: MeffaBabe

          Yep, seafood is all live food from the sea. Shellfish is shellfish.

        3. This has to be one of the silliest threads I've read yet.

          Have you ever had anyone ask you for the best 'shellfish restaurant' in town?

          From the fine folks at

          sea·food (sē'fōōd') Pronunciation Key
          n. Edible fish or shellfish from the sea.

          So why exactly are you confused?

          2 Replies
          1. re: tallullah

            Agreed, it's 1 of the silliest threads.

            Seafood includes fin fish and shellfish.

            If someone asks for the best seafood, they need to define whether they want traditional..Legal's, Jasper White, or others, or Giacomo's or Daily Catch or Peach Farm or East Ocean City, or raw bar based with other dishes B&G or Neptune, or something a little more upscale..Mare, Great Bay, or NE clam shack style, or whatever.

            Clio or #9 Park, while not "seafood" restaurants by design offer some very good "seafood" dishes..fin fish or shellfish. So do other non specifically "seafood" places.

            Scallop is either scallip or scawlop..depending on where you grew up, but both pronunciations are probably correct. (scallip to me)

            Gotta run..going out for some seafood.. Going for the best I can find..:)

            1. re: 9lives

              If my query is so silly, then why do many highly regarded cookbooks have a fish section and a seafood section? I'm thinking you guys think I'm madd as a hatter.

          2. It is an odd post/thread, and I like it.

            I think it could be significant to distinguish seafood that is actually harvested from the ocean around New England from that that is not. Traditional seafood ‘from’ here is more likely to be uniquely prepared well.

            So, I’ll offer:

            Lobster, Cod/Haddock, Swordfish, some Tuna, Flounder/other flat fish, steamers, quohogs, scallops, *local* oysters (mostly farmed)

            And I’ll offer for exclusion:

            *Anything* that arrived on an airplane, I don’t care how ‘fresh’ it is, shrimp, oysters from elsewhere, cherrystones (mmmmm, sorry, not from here)

            Talk to me.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Carty

              Swordfish stock in the Northern Atlantic are being allowed to come back after overfishing - but the swordfish you'll get in New England these days is still the same as everybody else's - frozen on the boat, whether it was caught in the Pacific or Southern Atlantic. Even if it was Northern Atlantic, it would be frozen, so freshness is not a benefit in terms of it being a "local" fish. Ditto tuna.

              Littlenecks = topnecks = cherrystones = quahogs (as they grow). Same animal, different size. Plenty of Cherry's coming out of Wellfleet, along with the oysters.

              Back to Gyppielou - I just never heard of that particular distinction between fish and seafood - been in NE since the early 60's. I've had old time yankee friends with families seriously into seafood and have never heard this. Don't know any hatters - mad or otherwise - but just saying...