"Fishing" for great fried seafood in Manchester, NH, Who "reeled me in, and who "sunk" my appetite.
I went to the Usual suspects in Manchester, and a couple of other restaurants who do not normally specialize in seafood but had it on the menu.
Places I tried were: (in no particular order)
Hart's Turkey Farm
Puritan Back Room
Firefly American Bistro
Woodman's of Essex- ( just opened in Litchfield, NH Route 3-a)
Weathervane Seafood (Bedford NH)
Let me start by saying I went to each place at least twice, ordering fried seafood just to be fair.
How I rated my list is value for the dollar, taste, freshness and quality. Service was not a factor because some of the places were self serve window type.
The best of the group in this diners opinion was:
Woodman's of Essex, hands down. The clam plate ($18) was large, he clams were so sweet, lightly fried, not greasy at all and very fresh. I got a massive pile of fries and onion rings with it, as well as a generous portion of clams.
next in line,
Hart's Turkey Farm! I know this is a surprise but the Fisherman's Platter ( $18.99) had the largest, and most delicious scallops I had ever seen or tasted in the area (6 of them) plus a decent portion of whole clams, shrimp and a nice piece of fresh fish, with a side of potato and squash! (which was delicious) and an excellent value.
Firefly American Bistro. I had the Beer Battered Fish and Chips. ($11.95) It came with 3 small pieces of Haddock (but together it was probably a good 6+ounces) and I opted for onion rings instead of "chips" and they were delicious.. very tasty batter, and hands down the best "fish and chips" of the group... too bad they do not serve clams, or they would have been number 2 on the list.
Puritan Back Room, I ordered the Fishermans Platter and it was huge. ($24.95) ! It also came with a cup of delicious clam chowder. The fish was fresh, and tasty and not overly greasy.
Charbel's The Fisherman's Platter was a large one,($24.99) and it came with a side salad and side of veggies, a decent portion of clams, scallops, a couple shrimp and small piece of fish, but it was very fresh tasting, the coating was kind of bland but not greasy at all.
Airport Diner; I ordered the Fisherman's platter (M/P that day was $15.99) and was given a very small amount of clams (only 4!) a few quarter sized scallops and very nice piece of fish, however when I mentioned the shunken portion of clams to the server (I had ordered it before and was given 8 large whole belly clams) she had the manager come over and he agreed it was very small portion and he sent over a fresh batch of delicious clams, that really made the difference, and made me happy indeed.
It was fresh, and tasty and an excellent value for the money.
Weathervane Seafood. Admiral's Platter at ($24.99) for a handful of bay scallops and tiny "native" shrimp, a piece of fish smaller than the palm portion of my hand, and only 6 dried out overcooked clams on a mountain of soggy french fries with a cup of watery coleslaw is not a good value, by any stretch of the imagination. VERY disappointing. The fish was fresh, but it was not a good value, Bay scallops? puny shrimp? crunchy clams? c'mon!
next: TIE for dead last.
Clam King 3- way combo plate of Whole Clams and Scallops and Haddock ($18.99 PLUS a $1.50 surcharge for whole clams) What a total let down when it came. 5 very tiny bellied clams, 5 nickel sized (bay?) scallops and a GRAY piece of fish that as soon as I touched it flaked apart! They were all coated with a tasteless greasy coating that flaked off because it was slapped on the plate left to soaked in grease and WATER which came out of the fish and soaked into the cold bland fries. I had the same experience both times I went, so it was not a fluke. This was by far some of the worst seafood I have tasted in a long time, and for the price they charged for it I won't go back
Tinkers I ordered whole bellied fried clam plate one time ($17.99) It was a decent portion of clams, but they were all gritty, like sand was in the bellies of every one! I think I had over 3/4ths of them full of what seemed to be well.. dirt. The second time I ordered Haddock and onion rings, ($10.99 + $1.00 upcharge for onion rings) The fish was old, tasteless watery and coated in a greasy batter that immediately was soaked off and flayed off because of the water in the bottom of the paper basket, the onion rings were thin, and so greasy I could not even stand eating them, I had 2 and tossed the rest, along with the watery nasty fish.
Overall, I was very disappointed with the seafood restaurants in Manchester that used to be good... I do not know what happened but I loved Tinkers for its clams, and now I won't be back since discovering Woodman's. Sorry with all the choices Manchester has, there is no need to waste my time and money on grit filled clams, or "Fishy" fish. I hope this encourages some people to try places they might not have thought of for a good fried clams, or fish and chips.
anyone else care to add to this list? I know there are many other places in Manchester, and this is just a "drop in the fish bucket".
545 Hooksett Rd, Manchester, NH 03104
2280 Brown Ave, Manchester, NH 03103
Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant
Amoskeag Bridge Manchester NH, Amoskeag Bridge Manchester, NH
Puritan Backroom Restaurant
245 Hooksett Rd, Manchester, NH 03104
Firefly American Bistro & Bar
22 Concord St, Manchester, NH
2323 Brown Ave, Manchester, NH 03103
791 2nd St, Manchester, NH 03102
Weathervane Seafood Restaurant
393 Route 101, Bedford, NH 03110
I tried them last year, and should have thought about adding them to this list, but I had not been there for over 9 months, I have to go back again this year, because those clams were really good last summer. As you can tell I was homesick for seafood since spending most of the winter in Ft Lauderdale. You just cannot get decent fried clams down there... so when I got home, I craved it all the time.
Thanks for the report. I'd love to try Woodman's but not sure we'll get that far south for clams. Had a great place last night at Pizza Market in Franklin NH mp $15.24. They let you sub onion rings for fries. Neither of us could finish the onion rings. I had trouble eating as much as I did. Generous serving. Never would have guessed Harts serves fried seafood.
The clam dinner at Woodman's is up to $20.95 (market price). I agree the clams were sweet, the serving large. Last night the bellies were small. Fries were pretty boring. No cole slaw which is fine with DH. Onion rings had that puffy batter (beer?) that is a nice contrast to the rest of the plate but tends to be greasy. We probably would have enjoyed our dinner more but the place was noisy. Every sound seems to echo. We got there before 5:30 and it was already very busy. It's small but people seem to eat and leave fairly quickly. All in all, we didn't think the clams were anything special. If we hadn't been in the area, it wouldn't have been worth the drive.
I too have had this at Richard's in the past, as well as the Cod, and I can tell you hands down Richard;s is the by far the best restaurant in Manchester for just about anything. If you ever feel like indulging and have a very fat wallet get the chef's tasting menu with wine pairing. It will cost you about $300+ (w/ tax and tip) for 2 people, but it will be something you will never forget... ever