Tag Archives: Seafood

Food: Le Bernardin

Le Bernardin, which specializes in a French presentation of seafood, is ranked the number one restaurant in NYC by New York Magazine, and number one in America by the reader-reviewers of Zagat. Uploaded by boston.com.

This elegant restaurant, located in midtown Manhattan, is consistently ranked as one of America’s finest restaurants. Since its opening in 1986, it has consistently received raved reviews from the food press – and from satisfied diners.

I’ll admit right off that Le Bernardin is above my pay grade. I’ve never had the pleasure of tasting its gourmet fare, so I’ll let the food and wine press speak to its merits:

Chef Eric Ripert. Uploaded by nytimes.com.

From Gourmet: “There is a reason why Le Bernardin is constantly rated at the top of every New York restaurant poll: It may be the most perfect combination of France and America that can possibly be achieved in a restaurant.”

From New York: “The city is full of ornate restaurants, but none of them manages to exude the glamour and class of Manhattan the way this one does, without any overweening glitz.”

From Zagat: “Everything in (Chef Eric Ripert’s) elegant French seafood-based cuisine – from the bouillabaisse to the raw/almost raw fish and seafood selections, to the extensive wine list and dreamy desserts – conspires to ensure an unforgettable experience.”

From Forbes: Le Bernardin remains the gold standard of seafood restaurants.”

Food: Calabash Seafood

Dockside, my favorite Calabash restaurant. Uploaded to Flickr by b alasdair2.

Dockside, my favorite Calabash restaurant. Uploaded to Flickr by b alasdair2.

First, a little history for those unfamiliar with today’s topic. There’s a little town in North Carolina, barely above the South Carolina border, called Calabash. Fishing boats bring their daily catch to the docks, and over the years a number of restaurants cropped up to prepare it. Lightly breaded, and fried. With hushpuppies. Mmmm, history.

This town of 957 people has at least a dozen seafood restaurants, not to mention pizza joints, sports bars, and pancake houses. Most of the restaurants are filled by visitors to nearby Myrtle Beach, and you can see a steady stream of cars heading up the highway each evening, past the strip malls, the ice cream shops, and the miniature golf courses.

Lightly breaded and fried, that's Calabash seafood. Uploaded by roadfood.com.

Lightly breaded and fried, that's Calabash seafood. Uploaded by roadfood.com.

Which Calabash restaurant offers the best food is a contentious discussion. Some folks prefer Ella’s, one of the oldest of the Calabash establishments. Some rave about the smallish Seafood Hut. My choice, which I have to admit is mostly a family tradition, is Dockside which, as its name reveals, is the closest to the docks. Doesn’t mean it has any fresher shrimp than anyone else, but I will state unequivocally that it has the finest hushpuppies.

Calabash seafood isn’t just about one town, though. It’s on menus throughout the Carolinas. There is, however, a distinct difference between the freshness of the food in Calabash and in some of the “Calabash-style” mega-buffets in Myrtle Beach. Go there if you like choice, but don’t deceive yourself into thinking you’re having genuine Calabash seafood. For that, you’ll need to make the drive about 20 miles to the north.

Food: Clam Box of Ipswich

Yes, that is "CLAM BOX" spelled in flowers out front. Photo courtesy of Roadfood.com.

Yes, that is "CLAM BOX" spelled in flowers out front. Photo courtesy of Roadfood.com.

It is shaped like a clam box. As you can imagine, it’s become a landmark in Ipswich, Massachusetts, a quaint town about 30 miles north of Boston. Built over 70 years ago, the Clam Box draws folks from all over the region for its fried feasts, featuring local clams, scallops, and shrimp.

Mmm, fried seafood. Photo uploaded on Flickr by EdKopp4.

Mmm, fried seafood. Photo uploaded on Flickr by EdKopp4.

But don’t take my word for it. (Actually, you couldn’t, because my personal travels haven’t led me to Ipswich thus far.) Here’s what the undeniable expert in such matters, Roadfood.com, has to say: “The trapezoidal Clam Box is the place to eat the best fried clams on the North Shore; and since the North Shore is home of the best fried clams anywhere, these are the best fried clams in the universe. Get them piled high on a platter along with French fries and onion rings. You’ll get a little tartar sauce for dipping and some wonderful sweet cole slaw.

But the truly wonderful thing about Clam Box fried clams is how greaseless they seem. They are luscious and crunchy, no doubt about that; but you’ll have no oily fingers after plowing through a plate. Overall: Worth planning a day around.”

Friend and New Englander LysaC recommended the Clam Shack as a Great American Thing. In fact, she wanted all of New England to be considered, and I promise it will. Just not all at once. Patience, Lysa, patience!

Let Coldwell Banker (sorry, the Clam Box spends its time cooking, not making video) show you the town of Ipswich, with a brief visit to the Clam Box.