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Best retail seafood on the North Fork of LI?

Driving out to Orient from NYC, want to get some really good seafood (to cook) along the way - what are the best bets for retail for locally caught stuff?

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  1. Brauns is always a good bet, and they're right on the Main Rd, past the railroad trestle, so you can't miss it. Although they're a wholesaler, you'd never know by their prices though. There's another place in Greenport somewhere with a lady's name, I know it is well regarded but I've never been. Oh yeah, Alice's!

    1. So, you are coming to my neck of the woods! In my opinion, you would do best with either Alice's (look for the small sign on Main Street, Greenport, that directs you to the store) or at the SoutholdFish Market, on the south Road between the town of Southold and the town of Greenport (located in the marina). You should call either one if you are seeking a particular item, to make sure they have it that day.

      1. We have shopped at both Braun's and Alice's. In the past, Alice was more uncertain -- if you had an idea of a certain fish you wanted to cook for dinner, Braun's selection seemed to be more extensive. I don't know anything about the Southold Fish Market, but I will definitely check it out when we are there in a couple of weeks.

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        Southold Fish Market
        61850 Route 25, Southold, NY 11971

        11 Replies
        1. re: roxlet

          I've never been to Alice's, but I have been to Southold Fish market. Its very good, but I prefer Brauns. Everything is impeccably fresh, super high quality and good variety. (My only complaint about Braun's is their inexplicable absence of fresh squid...I guess it all goes into their take-out shop.) However, when the Peconic bay scallops come into season in November, I find that Braun's frequently sells out before Southold.

          1. re: EricMM

            We've only had scallops fresh from Brauns the one time we were there in November, but I will never forget them. They were unlike any other scallops I have ever had.

          2. re: roxlet

            I used to be a fan of Braun's but a recent visit turned me off. I asked about the swordfish and the young woman behind the counter replied that yes, it was good that day (A Sunday), as they had put it out ONLY a day before. Perhaps I am naive, but fish that had been put on sale the previous day does not strike me as being super-duper fresh. Am I wrong?

            I then asked for halibut, and requested that the skin on the filet be left intact (I planned to grill). I was told that the halibut filets always had the skin taken off before they were put on sale. (Later the same day, I asked for the same--halibut filet with skin intact--at Alice's and was told "no problem.")

            I just got the impression that Braun's pre-prepared a large variety of filets rather than cutting the fish to order, which I would prefer.

            Please enlighten me here. Am I being too harsh?

            1. re: erica

              Maybe just a little bit harsh. First of all, most of the fish you find at any market will me older than that day...especially on a Sunday. A fish like swordfish will already be a few days old before it gets to the market. One of the things I like about Braun's is that they are honest. I have been told when fish/seafood hasn't been delivered that day. They will admit when product has arrived even days before. As for the halibut, I believe Braun's carries west coast halibut. This may already arrive without the skin, can't say for sure. Yes, Braun's does have most fillet's pre-prepared, as do most markets. If you look behind the counter, they have a listing of whole fish. You could always ask for one of those fish and have them filletted for you. Brauns tends to be very busy....if everything was fillet'd to order, things would back up...but also consider that something like a halibut may have individual fillets that weight 20 lbs. With the average customer buying a lb or less. Of course it will be prepared in advance. Also, the help at Braun's during the summer is mostly young teenager's. Sweet and well meaning....maybe not the most knowledgable. However, they always refer my questions about freshness to the boss. I have overall found Braun's to be much higher quality than all but the most expensive places in NYC....which they equal.

              1. re: EricMM

                Eric thank you for the explanation; it is very helpful. I will not take Braun's off my list; they are further from me than the other two I mentioned so I do not get there often, in any case. The clueless summer help is a turnoff, but I will follow your lead and ask the person in charge if I have any questions.. One thing I should mention is that Braun's has just about the best coleslaw I've ever bought...at a very fair price.

                1. re: erica

                  Re the clueless summer staff -- we have a name for them -- the Babes of Braun's. And there used to be the Witches of Wickham's (I think they've since up graded their sales staff), the Babushkas of Briermier's and what used to be Shelly from Skelly's, which is now Welle's Marketplace, I think. But the Babes of Braun's are a summer perennial -- there is a new crop of young 'uns every year.

                  1. re: roxlet

                    That is funny! It will give me a better perspective when I next shop there!

                    On a related note: Has anyone had tilefish lately and if so, what do you think?

                    1. re: erica

                      I haven't had tile fish in years. As of now, the only places that seem to carry it regularly are the Asian markets in Elmhurst. Surprisingly, tilefish is one of the fish that is highest in mercury. While that doesn't scare me off of it, it doesn't make it a fish I would go out of my way to get.

                      1. re: EricMM

                        Interesting! My local market in NYC has it this week and I read a rave in the Bittman fish book...thanks so much for your help!

                        1. re: erica

                          It is very tasty. Get the largest steaks you can find, center cut. It cooks very quickly. Treat it the way you would treat any white meat fish, which ever way you like to prepare it...its not bland, but it is subtle. Then just don't eat it again too soon........

              2. re: erica

                I think when you live out here you get spoiled. One day old is not all that old, unless you're catching it yourself.

            2. my vote is for Southold Fish Market.

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              Southold Fish Market
              61850 Route 25, Southold, NY 11971

              1. Thanks for all the advice - we went to Braun's on Friday and the Southold FIsh Market on Saturday. Braun's was a mixed bag - the shellfish (Littlenecks, Cherrystones, Cockles, Mussels) were all great - but the Striped Bass, while good quality, wasn't prepped very well. Was still quite scaly and took a bit of prep work at home.

                Southold was fantastic, though. Can't recommend them enough.

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                Striped Bass
                236 W Main St, Tarrytown, NY 10591

                1. my sister and i checked out braun's last year but we were not impressed. this may sound crazy but nothing looked fresh. and i'm not particularly spoiled as we do not have the best local fish markets in our neighborhood in brooklyn. it sounds like i will have to give them another shot.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: giftergirl

                    you're better off at Southold Fish Market just 10 minutes east.

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                    Southold Fish Market
                    61850 Route 25, Southold, NY 11971

                  2. I am a regular shopper of both Brauns and the Southold Fish Market. I used to shop exclusively at Brauns and now I shop 75% at Southold. I agree with some posters who think that the Southold Fish Market is the better of the two, although Brauns has the larger selection of non-local fish. I have had problems with the execution of some special orders from Brauns, so I am careful when/how I use them. The Southold fish market has a huge base of local suppliers, many of whom deliver on Thursdays and you can watch them unload and see the catch hauled in. Charlie and wife have been very helpful in getting items of interest to me. And if you want to make fish stock, they know what you mean. That being said, I prefer Braun's prepared fish stock and seafood salad to those sold at Southold's - just personal preference: Braun's salad is shrimp and lobster, Southold's is shrimp, lobster and crab. I don't shop at Alice's. Had a bad experience with a server there who had a bad cold and it is too disgusting to describe. Couldn't complete the transaction and never went back.

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                    Southold Fish Market
                    61850 Route 25, Southold, NY 11971

                    1. I prefer the Southold Seafood market over Braun's but they are both excellent. Braun's seems to be a more homogenized version of what I think a fish market should be. For some odd reason I can never seem to get whole fish at Braun's. Go figure?

                      But my all time favorite seafood market for variety and "essence" is Cor-J in Hampton bays.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Motosport

                        You have to ask for the whole fish. During the summer they will sometimes display a few whole fish in the center case, but usually you have to ask. They have a sign up on the right side of the wall behind the counter listing whole fish prices. My biggest gripe against Braun's is that they carry fresh squid so rarely. I think what they get goes directly to their prepared food take-out place.

                        1. re: EricMM

                          I'm guessing that the bulk of all their seafood goes to their wholesale business, maybe there's just not enough demand for squid in the retail end of things. I mean there's plenty of local squid out there if they wanted to feature it. I'm sure they'd take a special order if you asked.

                          1. re: EricMM

                            When I ask for whole fish I am told "we're out" Southold and Cor J always have whole fish on display on ice.

                            1. re: Motosport

                              Even Best Yet has lots of whole fish! I've bought a few items there purely out of convenience. I talk to the manager all the time and he used to work at Stuarts so he's pretty knowledgeable. If somethings not worth buying he will always tell me, and will point out what is local and fresh.

                              Since filets must sell way more than whole, maybe not worth being left with them at the end of the day, if you don't have the clientele. But if you don't see it at your store, you should at least mention it so they get a feeling of interest for it.

                              1. re: coll

                                Coll;
                                Congratulations on appearing in the Newsday article "Whose Cooking".
                                ~Fred19

                                1. re: Fred19

                                  Fred, thanks so much, it comes at a time that I really needed a boost and this did the trick. Guess that blows my Chowhound cover........but what the heck! My luck seems to be changing for the better and I'm looking forward to summer in the most beautiful area I know.