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Monday, March 16, 2009

Lenten Friendly Meals: Offshore Pier Fish Market & Restaurant (Rensselaer, NY)

For the seven Fridays before Easter, I find myself asking the same question:

Crap... what am I going to eat?

I could cook, but what if I'm not at home? I don't want to be stuck in the rut of buying the fish sandwich from McDonalds/Burger King/Wendy's/takeyourpick. Until everything goes back to normal, I am going to attempt a list of the places that I go to for my "meatless" meals.**

The first place I tried was the Offshore Pier Fish Market & Restaurant in Rensselaer. It's located at the corner of Rt. 4 and Third Avenue Ext, with a smallish parking lot that is usually full Friday evenings during Lent, and what seems to be almost every day during the summer. I stopped in late afternoon one Friday and it was pretty empty.

I'm not sure if the restaurant side is seasonal, but when I stopped in the sign that was posted said take out only. The inside looks exactly like any other fish market that has been around for a while. There were two cases that held their market offerings (one enclosed, one not), and I didn't think it looked that bad at all. Given where we are, I'm guessing most of the stuff was previously frozen, but there was no funky fish smell (which I did experience at Cousin's. Yuck!).

I was standing there for a few minutes when a gentleman came out from the kitchen. I ordered a pint of the Manhattan Clam Chowder and the Seafood platter. The platter comes with a choice of two sides: cold (coleslaw, macaroni salad, cottage cheese) and fries (shore, curly, regular). I picked the macaroni salad and shore fries, and went off to finish errands while my order was cooked.

When I got back fifteen minutes later, my food was waiting for me. The smell that was wafting from the bags were drool inducing, and I quickly ran back to the car. I was going to bring the food back to the apartment, but I couldn't resist and ate in the car instead.


I started with the Manhattan Clam Chowder. The soup was chock full of vegetables, and we're not talking the frozen variety. And unlike some other chowders, this one had good sized pieces of clam. It had chunks of very tender meat, which is a big plus. It wasn't too thick, and had enough broth for all the oyster crackers to dumped in there to soak up. So very, very good.


As I stated before, their seafood platter (this may also hold true for all their platters) comes with two sides. I ordered the shore fries and macaroni salad. When I picked up my order, the cook mentioned he couldn't remember if I wanted shore or curly, so he gave me both. Can't complain about that... except that I gave up french fries for Lent. And there was potato in my chowder... we get gimme days, right? Curly fries were good, the shore fries not so much. The macaroni salad was some of the best I've had.

As for the fried seafood, it comes with a fish fillet (I got paddock), couple of shrimp, handful of scallops, and clams. They are tossed with breading (I think you can buy theirs to use at home)and quickly fried. It is not oily at all, and the smell when you open the container... something only a seafood lover could love. I should have left the windows open a bit to air out the car... M was gagging. He still won't shut up about it.

The shrimps were tender, the scallops juicy, and the paddock flaky. The clam strips, which I am used to having more breading than clam, was the complete opposite. With a spritz of lemon and plenty of cocktail sauce and tartar sauce that comes with the meal, I quickly devoured half of it. I ate the rest the next day and it was just as good.

Platter and soup came out to ~14.00, tax included.

Offshore Pier Fish Market & Restaurant
637 3rd Ave Ext
Rensselaer, NY 12144
(518) 283-9880

** I put the quotation marks in there for M's sake. Because he likes to remind me that fish is also a meat.

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