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Good fish market w/ good prices for picky fish eater

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BackBayGirl Apr 23, 2009 11:15 AM

OK, long title. Basically, I'm allergic to shellfish which is a HUGE bummer. I can't really handle strong tasting fish like salmon or swordfish, so if I want to eat fish, I usually have haddock, scrod, cod, sole, tilapia or halibut. The problem is, I can't find a good fish market w/ reasonable prices. I went to Whole Foods and they were selling haddock for like $8 or more per pound. I can get it cheaper up in Maine at my folks' house and it's fresher or I could go to my boyfriend's in RI and hit Dave's and get it for $3.99, again, fresher and better. Are there any places I could go where I can get good fish at a decent price? I don't mind paying a little extra, but a lot more...that's insane!

  1. t
    thekidd Apr 23, 2009 11:41 AM

    not sure where you live, but Burke's is really good. . .

    http://www.burkesseafood.com/

    1. b
      BackBayGirl Apr 23, 2009 11:51 AM

      Sorry, should make where I live clear. I'm in Brookline. I'd like to find a place in Brookline, Boston, Cambridge or Somerville. I don't want to travel to the 'burbs.

      3 Replies
      1. re: BackBayGirl
        f
        Foodie_BBQ Apr 23, 2009 12:18 PM

        Have you tried Wulf's on Harvard? I moved out of Brookline 4 years back, but that was my go-to fishmonger. Very knowledgeable and the fish was as fresh as I've ever had. Whole Foods (may be in Boston at Comm & Washington) would be my backup for Brookline area.

        1. re: BackBayGirl
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          BackBayGirl Apr 23, 2009 12:28 PM

          I actually did a post asking about them a few months ago and people had told me they went way downhill and that I shouldn't bother. Have you been there lately?

          1. re: BackBayGirl
            BobB Apr 23, 2009 01:36 PM

            I live near Wulf's and am one of the folks who've given up on them. They're not even as good as Whole Foods, which itself doesn't hold a candle to the Fish Lady at the Brookline farmer's market, which is, alas, still a couple of months away from reopening. She's not cheap (last year she charged $10 - $11 a pound for haddock filet, which I also love), but her fish is incredibly fresh and good.

        2. hotoynoodle Apr 23, 2009 12:04 PM

          super 88 and ming's always have live tilapia and a variety of flat fishes. the prices are very cheap, but unless you know *how* to buy fish, i'd advise against it.

          4 Replies
          1. re: hotoynoodle
            b
            BackBayGirl Apr 23, 2009 12:07 PM

            Uh oh. How do I buy fish?

            1. re: BackBayGirl
              nfo Apr 23, 2009 01:13 PM

              Basically, you need to learn how to identify good fish if you're going to buy from Super 88. Clear eyes, red gills, and a decent amount of activity for the live ones (though it's hard to gauge activity in a crowded tank). While a live fish is usually okay, personally, I'd rather pay $8+/lb somewhere reliable (like New Deal) - that is a reasonable price, around here. Occasionally I'll buy from Market Basket (~$6/lb), but the quality can vary.

            2. re: hotoynoodle
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              BroadwayBound Apr 24, 2009 06:54 PM

              The fish area in the Brighton Super 88 always seems to have a foul odor. I grew up on the Gulf Coast and know what a normal fish store smells like. Unfortunately, I wouldn't describe the smell emanating from Super 88 fish area as typical.

              1. re: BroadwayBound
                hotoynoodle Apr 24, 2009 08:11 PM

                never been to that location. i only ever go to chinatown, and like i said, it's hit or miss.

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              BBHound Apr 23, 2009 02:00 PM

              I'm a fan of Court House Fish, on Cambridge St in Cambridge, a few blocks down from the Middlesex County Court House. Excellent quality and really helpful folks behind the counter who will help you with preparation etc.

              -----
              Courthouse Fish Market
              484 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

              1. 9
                9lives Apr 23, 2009 02:30 PM

                I'm a fan of Courthouse and New Deal in E Cambridge. Capt Marden is also very good and may be convenient for you.

                I think you're going to find the price you pay in RI hard to find for fresh, high quality fish in this area.

                I paid $10/lb at James Hook for a really nice piece of haddock a few days ago. The fish mkt on Salem in the NE was charging the same today.

                Sadly, Wulf's has gone way downhill and I won't buy there.

                1 Reply
                1. re: 9lives
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                  pemma Apr 24, 2009 07:02 AM

                  I've found that if you want good, fresh fish, you have to pay.

                2. b
                  BackBayGirl Apr 24, 2009 07:30 AM

                  Thanks, everyone. I don't eat fish that often, so from what you're saying, obviously, it's better to pay a little more and know you're getting very good quality. I'm definitely not cheap, so I will pay extra. I just wondered if there were any good deals to be had anywhere.

                  1. Dea Apr 24, 2009 07:35 AM

                    While definitely not "fresh" or a "fish market" I've found the frozen fish at Trader Joe's to be pretty tasty and a good value too.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: Dea
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                      BackBayGirl Apr 24, 2009 07:59 AM

                      I've actually found the opposite and don't really like their fish.

                      1. re: BackBayGirl
                        rlh Apr 24, 2009 09:19 AM

                        I agree - generally flavorless, bad texture, watery, and mostly likely chemical-soaked so it sucks up the water and weighs in higher at those lower prices per lb.

                        Are there specific types of fish at TJ that this doesn't apply to? - problems cited were with scallops, swordfish, and halibut - then I gave up. Whole Foods (except River St Cambridge) has also become erratic for me recently - they sold us waterlogged, flavorless scallops this week (should have known at $5 per lb!)

                        Now I pay what New Deal charges - not cheap, but fair and pristine quality - never a hint of a problem and frequently a revelation (like a recent freshly-fileted lemon sole - mmmmmm!)

                        1. re: rlh
                          hotoynoodle Apr 24, 2009 10:32 AM

                          we live in the scallop capital of the world. i wouldn't buy a frozen scallop with a 10-ft pole. same goes for larger fish like halibut and sword. they're too easy to get fresh here.

                          i've actually bought excellent scallops, shrimp, tuna, sword, bluefish and sole at super 88. also at one of the halal markets on blackstone st. but, it is hit or miss. sometimes the fish looks all beat up and other times it's gorgeous. you have to know what to buy and not go with a pre-conceived notion, of "oh, i want haddock."

                          last time i bought scallops at super 88 they were $5.99 a pound and were the best i've seen in a store in a long time.

                          btw, i'm not a tilapia fan. it's all farm-raised and tastes muddy to me.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle
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                            sablemerle Apr 24, 2009 11:12 PM

                            Is there anywhere local where you can buy the whole scallop, not just the abductor muscle?

                            I understand that in most of the world, the entire mollusk is eaten.

                            1. re: sablemerle
                              9
                              9lives Apr 25, 2009 05:54 AM

                              Peach Farm or East Ocean City serves the whole scallop when available.

                              I've bought them a few years ago at Savenor's and a small shop in Chinatown downstairs from Winsor dim sum.

                              They were banned for health reasons but are now ok and I imagine a good fish market could order them for you.

                              http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dmf/marine...

                              1. re: 9lives
                                hotoynoodle Apr 25, 2009 06:51 AM

                                restaurants i've worked in have occasionally gotten them from capt. marden's, which i know has a store in the burbs someplace. i also got them at the fish store just over the salem bridge to beverly. however, most americans don't want them that way, so they are hard to find.

                          2. re: rlh
                            s
                            sionnac Apr 28, 2009 01:31 PM

                            We bought excellent scallops at New Deal last Summer, and everything looked so good and fresh, it was hard to decide. Worth the price. Should get over there more often.

                          3. re: BackBayGirl
                            Dea Apr 27, 2009 09:22 AM

                            @ BackBayGirl - Sorry to hear that - I've had good luck with their salmon and cod.

                          4. re: Dea
                            galleygirl Apr 27, 2009 05:43 PM

                            Hmm, I buy a ton of stuff at Trader Joe's, but their frozen fish leaves a lot to be desired. If you can grab their fresh salmon within code, (er, WELL within code) it can be okay, but usually the same price as everyone else's, with a bigger non-fresh risk.

                          5. c
                            Carty Apr 24, 2009 07:46 AM

                            BBGirl,

                            I spend time in midcoast Maine and have, quite simply, found the haddock/cod experience there impossible to reproduce in the city at any price. I have taken to buying large quantities (Simpson's on Rt 1 in Wiscasset is my current favorite) and (gasp) freezing in serving sized pieces.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Carty
                              b
                              BackBayGirl Apr 24, 2009 07:59 AM

                              You know...I may actually go that route. We'll see though.

                              1. re: BackBayGirl
                                BobB Apr 24, 2009 10:17 AM

                                I've tried freezing the haddock from the Fish Lady and it's just not the same, the perfect flaky texture becomes more chewy. But I haven't tried a vacuum sealer as 9lives suggests, that's a thought...

                              2. re: Carty
                                9
                                9lives Apr 24, 2009 09:18 AM

                                I freeze a fair amount of fresh caught fish...also in "serving sized pieces. If you do it often, I highly recommend a vacuum sealer..something like this..

                                http://www.factorydirect2you.com/tifo...

                                really maintains the quality for freezing.

                                btw, was in Haymarket this AM and saw some haddock for $3/lb. I wouldn't buy it..:)

                                1. re: 9lives
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                                  powerfulpierre Apr 24, 2009 10:10 AM

                                  Just a brief comment on Haymarket fish. Mrs and I get there early, have a few fresh-shucked oysters or cherrystones, tour the vendors, and on the way out after a couple more half-shells, pick up some fish for the night's dinner. Odd shapes and cuts but we've never had anything but fresh and tasty.

                                  1. re: powerfulpierre
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                                    9lives Apr 24, 2009 11:13 AM

                                    I'm a fan of the clam guy, regular stop for me....fin fish; not so much.

                              3. globalgourmand Apr 24, 2009 08:13 AM

                                I've heard glowing reviews about New Deal Fish Market in Cambridge. I can't speak about prices (they were closed the one time I tried to stop in.) People rave about beautiful sushi-grade fish so I've been trying to find a convenient opportunity to swing by very soon. http://www.newdealfishmarket.com/

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: globalgourmand
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                                  Splendid Spatula Apr 28, 2009 10:29 AM

                                  LOVE the New Deal. Best fish, very knowledgeable. Not cheap cheap, but boy do you get what you pay for!

                                2. e
                                  eckjac Apr 24, 2009 03:04 PM

                                  Mercato del Mare at 99 Salem Street, North End, Boston.

                                  http://northendfish.com/

                                  1. l
                                    lovethatdirtywater Apr 25, 2009 06:41 AM

                                    I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality and sale prices on several items at the fish department at the West Roxbury Roche Bros...

                                    1. Karl S Apr 27, 2009 12:55 PM

                                      Market Basket - either Chelsea or Union Square Somerville. They don't gouge. (The fish I get at the Reading location is often in better condition, for several $$ less, than what I used to get at Whole Foods. Market Baskets do vary more location by location, but the Chelsea and Somerville stores have high volume and turnover and a knowledgeable clientele.)

                                      1. b
                                        BackBayGirl Apr 28, 2009 08:46 PM

                                        Thanks for all of these great recommendations. I'm definitely going to try New Deal. Whereabouts in Cambridge is it?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: BackBayGirl
                                          nfo Apr 29, 2009 05:19 AM

                                          It's on Cambridge St (in E. Cambridge).

                                          -----
                                          New Deal Fish Market
                                          622 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

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