Just returned from a few days chasing chowder, seafood, sea, and birds. Got my fill for now. Some chow notes may be of interest.
STURBRIDGE: Made the obligatory return to CHURCHILL'S for a Tuesday lunch but was disappointed to find that the fish guy had not shown up. No clam chowder. However, there was excellent grilled chicken and corn chowder. The tuna sandwich was a sandwich. On Friday, all the fish menu was available. Fish and chips, fresh and crispy both, could benefit from more solid fish. Muffins I mentioned in the posting last July I can now vouch for. They ARE homemade, huge, delicious, and at $1.25 each, a bargain. I also brought home the cinnamon buns, delicious, too.
SALEM: From a May posting, took a recommendation to have dinner with a friend at IN a PIG'S EYE, 148 Derby Street. This was as she described it but without menu specifics. We shared two appetizers -- polenta/gorgonzola/portabella mushroom and crab cakes. We each had the same entree, scrod with an apple, toasted breadcrumb, pancetta topping, mashed white and sweet potatoes, and a sort of sweet/sour eggplant and a couple of glasses of pinot grigio. With a generous tip, the total came to about $70. The food was EXCELLENT! The band that began at 9 was good but made conversation impossible. I think we'd have stayed for that if we'd had more time.
CAVEAT: Unless you have a really big appetite, take it easy on the first courses and nice bread; and prepare to ride around a bit for a parking space.
IPSWICH: Stopped at the CLAM BOX at 11:45 a.m. on a Thursday to a place already PACKED and the parking lot nearly filled. I took a container of chowder back to Rockport. The chowder was very good and still almost too hot to eat in spite of the traveling time.
ROCKPORT: Perhaps because the summer hordes have not yet arrived, a number of restaurants are not yet open or open only for lunch. Had one dinner at CUTTY'S HARBOR HOUSE, a sweet little place with a lovely view on Bearskin Neck. I was the ONLY patron at about 7. NO extras here -- no bread, no salad, no crackers. I had gratin of scallops, haddock, and shrimp, "glazed" baby carrots, and those ubiquitous crispy, spiced potato chunks. (WHERE do those potatoes come from?!) The seafood was wonderful. That's it. At about $25 with tip, a ripoff from my perspective. The PORTSIDE CHOWDER HOUSE, also on the Neck, was another story. Had some of the best clam chowder, with whole, tender clams, I can remember. The fish and chips, likewise, were excellent -- fresh, non-greasy, abundant. Nice salad, too. This was the best of the chowder/fish & chips combo. THE GREENERY in town is open all day with good sandwiches, desserts, and coffee. Finally, a breakfast bonanza at MICHAEL'S coffee shop at Sandy Bay Motor Inn on Route 127. Breakfast is cheap, good, fast, how you want it with great waitresses. It seems to be a local gathering place.