The final day of our road trip saw us testing the limits of our stomachs and determining which roadside seafood stand to hit, Cove Fish Market or Sea View Snack Bar for our last seafood bonanza. Sea View was conveniently located next to Kitchen Little right on the main drag whereas Cove’s is further away and partially hidden by an island of trees and a big giant boat. Originally, we were just going to eat at one establishment but since they both had similar menus and similar mixed reviews on Yelp, it was obvious that our responsibility lay in swinging the pendulum decisively to one side. The only way to be definitive was to eat at both places. Plus, Mr. Yam was quite sure that Cove’s was the place where he and his family had the best clam chowder in the world a few years ago. When you proclaim that something is the best, we’re going to make you prove it.
But first, a dive into U.S. deep sea history with a visit to Groton, CT, (the self proclaimed?) submarine capital of the world. After cleaning up a few more plates of food at Kitchen Little, we headed out for a fascinating tour of the first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus. I’ve never been in a submarine before and now I understand why this service of the navy get the best food that our tax dollars can provide (though that’s debatable). The spaces are small and cramped, definitely not for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic. If you spend weeks underneath the water in a long, skinny tube with no where to get some fresh air, you should at least eat well. They must pick the most agile and compact of navy men/women for these posts because the passage ways are so narrow that only hobbits could get through with ease and don’t even get me started on the bunks, stacked one atop the other with maybe 18 inches of vertical clearance. Sardines in a can get more wriggling space. Claustrophobia aside, it was very impressive to see our country’s engineering might and underwater design. Jules Verne would have been proud.
After we got a dose of military history, it was time for the real battle at hand: Cove Fish Market or Sea View Snack Bar.
First up was Sea View where over the past couple of nights, we had seen throngs of people munching underneath florescent outdoor lamps and halogen headlights of SUVs. We wanted to be those people, slathered in butter and drowning in tartar sauce by the eerie glow of man made lighting. To get the full experience, we ordered a representative sample of cold lobster roll, fried fish, and clam chowder. The lobster roll was pretty good, certainly much better than what was served at the Seaport and the fried fish was light and crispy, an effect achieved by using no breading but perhaps just a dusting of starch. We were pleased but not wowed. The clam chowder was the test of true perfection and it was disappointing, lacking in salt and that je ne sais quois essence of fresh clam. No plate cleaning occurred here and we left a few scraps left for the birds.
Although we were partially full, we knew we had to press on to Cove’s Fish Market, whose reputation preceded it by Mr. Yam’s exaltation of its clam chowder. Once again, we hit the main points of hot and cold lobster roll, fried fish(cod) and of course, both clear and cream broth clam chowder. Hello jackpot! The lobster was tender and juicy, the fish was fresh and delectable. And…the clam chowder was hands down the best we had devoured the whole weekend and then some. It was well seasoned, clammy, creamy…Les was so enamored that she wanted to buy a gallon of the chowder to take home but sadly, they were out of the take home variety so we were only able to bring it back in the form of full, round bellies. The car groaned under our accumulated weight when we finally headed back to NY, sated and happy as clams.