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Dec 18, 2008 03:40 PM

Morgan Fishery in South Amboy- a review

Inspired by the 'Fish and Chips' post, I decided to try Morgan Fishery tonight, and I was glad I did. There is very little information online about this place and there is no website to speak of, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Here's the lowdown; it's a BYO fish shack with good, fresh seafood. While Morgan's seems to be more of a take-out place, we enjoyed dining in and eating our food straight from the kitchen.
Service was warm and prompt. We were greeted immediately and brought menus and wine glasses. The menus were a bit hard to read and blurry, but we eventually chose an appetizer. For starters, we ordered the steamed clams, Morgan style (9.95). Again, I wasn't sure what to expect as the extensive menu does not describe the items, it just lists them and their price. What we received was a giant plate of 13 rather large clams, perfectly cooked, in a fabulous roasted garlic clam broth. This dish was a standout due to the quality of the clams and the depth of flavor of the broth.
The entree section of the menu was over 50 items long, with fish and shellfish served either fried or broiled as a sandwich, entree, or over pasta. There was virtually every combination you could imagine. Since DH and I had a hard time deciding, we went with the seafood combos- one each of broiled and fried. The standout part of the combo was the shrimp. Both the fried and broiled were extremely fresh and firm, and full of shrimp flavor. We also really enjoyed the fried Haddock, which was perfectly fried in a well-seasoned batter. It was probably the best fried fish I've ever tasted, including the fish and chips at McDonagh's in Keyport. The sides were also impressive, with homemade tartar sauce, homemade cocktail sauce, and creamy coleslaw. The only disappointment was the course sea salt on the table. When we shook the dispenser, the salt came out in big balls, which isn't what you want from a salt shaker!
What Morgan Fishery lacks in ambiance (bright lights, plastic plates and utensils), it makes up for in its fresh, simply-prepared food. We will be back soon. I look forward to trying their shrimp cocktail and fresh fish in season. One and a half stars.

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  1. When we return home, Morgan fishery is our favorite. During mom's brief illness and subsiquent death, my brother, his wife and mine ate copious quantities of seafood there every day during lunch. We also polished off a lot of BYOB beer and wine, which makes the Morgan Fishery even more reasonable. It is my firtst stop for a soft shell crab sandwich. The fried fish is excellent too. Be forewarned, however, that the fried clams are strips, not the full bellied clams that I'm used to in Maine.
    ps It is located in Sayreville, not South Amboy; 812 Rt 35 N. & Midland Ave. (just north of the bridge) 732 721 9100.
    pps It was currymouth that told me about The Morgan Fishery here on this board. I miss his posts.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Passadumkeg

      passadumkeg, it's funny that you should mention the location. dh, who has the annoying habit of "dropping" receipts all over the floor, dropped this receipt in our hotel room in cape may. after i showed him the receipt on the floor, i was surprised to see that the town location was listed as 'Morgan, NJ'. i am assuming that Morgan is part of Sayreville.

      1. re: njchowgal

        Yes, Morgan is named after Morgan Creek which runs under the bridge, named after Morgan the Pirate (?) whom according to legend, buried treasure along the creeks banks and gave hours of summer fun to me as a child digging all over for the loot. I did a lot of fishing, crabbing and duck hunting in the area too.
        Cooking some trout and garden acor squash of supper.
        Merry Christmas and happy hounding in the Garden State.
        The Vietnamese place behind Burger King on Rt 9 S. ,right off Burlew Pl., is a find as well.

        1. re: Passadumkeg

          so off topic but interesting none the less:

          this page thinks the founders were relatives of the pirate.

          to try to make this some hat chow wiorthy. Ted's cheesesteaks on 35 south just after the rt 9 exit makes a pretty decent gyro and the pizza place near morgan fishery makes a good thin crust slice. . .

          There's also Raritan Bay Waterfront Park in South Amboy at the end of Keenan st with a beautiful view of the Raritan Bay. Makes for a nice place for some take out from the fishery on a warm day.

          1. re: jrd303

            Thanks. Mom used to teach in South Amboy. A few years ago there used to be ferry service from SA, near the old power plant, that went straight to Battery Park in Manhattan.
            Spy Rd is named fro the British spy hung during the Rev. war, he was hung near were the Robert E. Lee Rest. was.

          2. re: Passadumkeg

            I beleve it is actually Cheesequake Creek.

            1. re: peril

              I think we are both correct; as a kid we called one branch Morgan Creek and another branch goes into Cheesequake St. Pk

      2. Morgan Fishery has changed owners -- very recently. This was our first visit, so I cannot compare it to the old owners. The place was very clean, no fishy smell. Mr C loved his fried oyster sandwich. It was properly done with oysters fresh from the shell. I didn't order anything... it was just a quick stop. I hope to go back soon and wish success to the new owners.

        Here is a recent photo showing the "Morgan" is gone from the sign. Now it's just "Fishery". Presumably there will be a new name.

        Morgan Fishery Bistro & Grill
        1812 State Route 35 South, Amboy, NJ

        4 Replies
        1. re: val ann c

          I enjoyed the Morgan Fishery and I've been wondering how this place is holding up so I stopped in today. I was also impressed with how clean the Fishery was. Not even a hint of a fish smell in the air. Much of the old menu remains intact. I ordered the maryland crab, corn and clam chowder, garlic toast (noted with the soup on the menu) on the side and coleslaw. The soup was pretty darn good. It was velvety, buttery and well balanced. The sweetness of the crab wasn't overpowered, It had a little bit of tang to it as well. I beleive there was majoram in it as well though I'm not certain. There was a perfect amount of salt and the potatoes were tender but not overcooked. I really enjoyed this soup. .Served with Westminster crackers.

          The garlic toast was well done. I looove garlic and could stand piles of it. Their toast was more subltle with the garlic but it wasn't a bad thing at all. Topped with seasalt oregano and fresh pasrsley and maybe one or two other spices I coudn't discern. It's nice when something as simple as garlic toast is prepared with care.

          The slaw was the only thing i didn't get too excited over. It wasn't bad or anything just a standard slaw with a touch of sweetnes and not much carrot or celery. .

          It was only one experience but I did enjoy the little I tried. I think I'll be ordering lunch again tomorrow. They had a sign by the register regretting that they could not honor gift certificates for the Morgan Fishery. Maybe that had something to do with the name change?

          1. re: jrd303

            jrd303- thanks for the update. i'm glad to hear the new owners are keeping up the tradition of good food. i have been back several times for shrimp cocktail take out (better and cheaper than Wegmans), but i have not eaten there since the change of ownership. dh and i will check it out once it stops raining.

            1. re: njchowgal

              I went back today and asked about the herbs in the Crab, Clam, and Corn Chowder. They told me they use Rosemary, Thyme and a little bit of Basil.

              Today I ordered a cup of Manhattan Clam Chowder with the Garlic Toast, and a Grilled Mako Shark Steak with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Spinach off the daily special board.

              To be fair I thought the Garlic Bread was a step below how it was prepared yesterday. Yesterday the crumb had pronounced, dark grill marks and the crust had a nice toasty, crunchy bite to it. Today it seemed not so much toasty but chewy as if there was more butter/oil soaked into the bread and it didn't have chance to toast up. The toppings were consistent with yesterday but the texture unfortunately wasn't.

              I thought the soup was again outstanding. I don't even care for Manhattan Clam Chowder that much but I think that's mostly because I've been disappointed so many times before. Theirs tastes well balanced has plenty of veggies and herbs and sings spoonful after spoonful. After try number two I couldn't be happier with the way they prepare their soups. .

              The spinach was prepared perfectly to my tastes: not too much salt or too much buter/oil. When I was done there was barely any oil on the container underneath the leaves . The leaves were vibrant green perfectly wilted and tender and the stalks had the slightest bit crunch to them. I think they did a better job preparing the spinach today than how I ever had it prepared as the Morgan Fishery.

              The potatoes didn't do it for me but I'm an extremely picky mashed potato person. I rarely enjoy mashed potatoes outside of the way I make them Everyone likes their potatoes different and I have a very narrow range of what qualities make for 'good' mashed potatoes. I like a drier mashed potato (more rustic and smashed than mashed) than most everyone else with a very minimal amount of butter , skins on, lots of pepper lots of herb and maybe a little chicken stock or sour cream and maybe some paprika. If there's roasted garlic involved I like a lot of it Theirs are prepared more to the buttery side not too much roasted garlic (probably closer to a sane amount than how I make them) and a little bit of herb and I thought I tasted white wine on the finish but I'm not certain. .

              I'm certainly not an expert on sea food and have admittedly limited experience with fish other than tuna from a can, bbq salmon on a cedar plank, or a deep fried fillet. Broiled wise I've had halibut, swordfish, and go to Doris and Ed's maybe once a year so I've tried a few different other types. I've never tried Mako before and while I was waiting for everything to be cooked I was poking around on the internet with my phone and came across this site:


              -from the site and for full disclosure I read this before I ate the steak today:

              "Sharks must be bled and iced immediately upon capture. The shark's blood contains urea, a compound that helps maintain the animal's body fluids. After the shark dies, bacteria break the urea down to ammonia, which can impart an off-taste to the meat."

              The steak was about an inch thick, succulent, and opaque in color without being overcooked. It had distinct grill marks and was well seasoned without being over seasoned. After squeezing a good amount of lemon over the top I dug in. The steak tasted very good in one of the lower sections of the fish and I was enjoying it. I started to eat one of the sections towards the point where the two halves of the fish come together and darned if it didn't have an off taste of amonia to it. I couldn't smell it on the steak and it wasn't overpowering but it was clearly there to my senses. I put the chewed piece in a napkin and repeated the same thing four more times with the same results at different points over the next half hour. To be fair I can't be sure if it wasn't just the power of suggestion from reading that site but to me it was part of the flavor of the fish and it wasn't noticeable at all in the lower section.

              I called back to let them know about it and they were very attentive and polite and asked if there was anything they could do to remedy the situation. I told them I just wanted to let them know and they said they would look into it and would be sure to take care of me the next time I came in.

              I understand how hard it is to make a go of a business and how important these reviews can be and I don't want to give the impression that the fish there isn't fresh in any way. They told me it was brought in this morning and I don't think it was at a level where it would even be noticeable without eating the fish and I think it would be unreasonable to expect them to cook and try everything that comes into the restaurant. If I didn't read that site before hand I very well might have just thought it was part of the flavor of the fish and finished it without a second thought . I think something like this could happen anywhere and seems to be more an issue with how the fish was handled on the boat that caught it than any mishandling by the Fishery.

              The most important part of the experience for me was how they handled the information when I called back. I'll definitely be eating there again and if anything they reassured me that if there ever is an issue they'll handle it promptly and professionally if given the chance.

              1. re: jrd303

                Just noticed this thread again and wanted to mention that I went back months ago (sometime in July) and tried their Paella. It was not so good in a bunch of ways and I haven't been back since. Offhand I remember muscles that weren't so fresh tasting, lobster that was cooked to death, and back and sauce that was little more than gobs of butter. The rice wasn't even well cooked. I left 3/4 unfinished and it unfortunately turned me off to their restaurant. It's hard for to swallow paying $20+ for a bad meal.

                It's still open so they must be making someone happy It has been months so maybe things have improved. Has anyone been to Morgan recently?