Friends Don’t Let Friends Visit Boston Without Eating Chowda

July 16, 2009

One of the best things about living in Boston is access to fresh seafood. You can get fresh fish and chips year round and dollar oysters on the half-shell. There is NO excuse for eating bisque or chowder out of a can. After all, nearly every restaurant has its own take on the New England recipe.
For the past 28 years, Fourth of July weekend has meant three things: fireworks, sunburns and Chowderfest! Eight Boston-area restaurants competed this year, serving up hot chowder during one of the first sunny and warm weekends of summer. The Yankee Lobster Fish Market's mascot donned a bright red lobster costume, complete with oversized claws, while handing out coupons to patrons. Maxi dresses, boat shoes and fanny packs stood in line to try each restaurant's offerings. Even children scampered around looking for their own taste of chowder.
Much to my dismay, the samples were similarly “child-like” and not given out by the bread bowl. One of my best friends from Maryland came in town and was excited until she saw the lines. Actually, the $10 cover did not even buy a full bowl of chowder since the samples were given out in two or four ounce cups. You could, however, taste your samples with all the hot sauce and oyster crackers you wanted. Chowder tasters made comments about the spices, the consistency of the base and the potato-to-clam ratio, and voted as they exited the event. Our favorite was from the Algonquin Club, who sadly, did not even make the top three. They were the only offering with bacon! We weren't alone in our feelings of disappointment. Several comments were made via Twitter about the event.
@Cavecibum shared our love for bacon and disappointment with some of the showings, “Thoroughly enjoyed Chowderfest, even though most of the samples were not great
@Hot_in_Boston said, “If you like crowds, tourists & waiting in lines for little cups of chowder then DEFINITELY go to Chowderfest.”
@Munchmylunch said, “I feel robbed that Ned Devine's won Chowderfest ( Yankee Lobster Co. was the best hands down!”
That's right, the final count awarded Ned Devine's Irish Pub the first place title. Ned Devine's also won first place in 2004 and 2005, earning them a place in the Chowderfest “Hall of Fame,” which means they are no longer eligible to compete.
Do you have a favorite place to eat chowder? Nominate them for Chowderfest 2010 by emailing!

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