Haddad's Ocean Cafe
291 Ocean Street, Marshfield, MA 02050
--- Winner, Best Seafood Restaurant in Boston Area, 2011 (also 2009 and 2008) ---
The South Shore town of Marshfield is often overlooked by people looking for a classic New England seaside experience within the greater Boston area. Indeed, while Gloucester, Marblehead, Scituate, and Plymouth seem to get all the crowds on a balmy summer day, Marshfield often remains fairly quiet. But did you know that Marshfield has an historic old fishing village complete with a rocky coastline, well-worn seafood shacks and nautical-based shops, and spectacular ocean views? This village, which is known as Brant Rock, may not look pretty upon first glance, but it is a comfortable, instantly familiar place that is certainly worth going to. And if you do, you might want to consider dining at Haddad's Ocean Cafe, which may just be one of the best--and most authentic--seafood restaurants south of Boston.
Haddad's is located in the heart of Brant Rock, and like many places in this old fishing village, it looks a bit rough around the edges from the outside. But it is a friendly place that caters to local fishermen as well as everyone from young couples to families to retirees. The bar side of Haddad's is a classic scene, with loud, boisterous fishermen drinking beer and joking with the barstaff while other folks dine on fresh seafood at one of the few tables on the bar side. The dining room is completely separate from the bar and is much more quiet and peaceful than the bar is, though the plain decor and the seductive smells from the kitchen and diners' plates are a constant reminder that you are still in a no-frills seafood shack.
The menu at Haddad's is seafood, seafood, and more seafood, though diners can also have the option of ordering chicken, spaghetti, or steak dishes. But the seafood is the thing here, and it is about as fresh as any you will find in the Boston area. One of the best ways to sample the items at Haddad's is by ordering either the deluxe seafood plate (fried haddock, clams, scallops, lobster and shrimp) or the fisherman's platter (fried haddock, scallops, and clams). Another option is the fried half and half, which can include the deliciously sweet scallops, the mild but tasty haddock, the calamari, oysters, shrimp, or clams. Perhaps one of the best items on the menu is the crab cake plate (which is not always available, unfortunately), as they are mild, fresh, and tender, and are nearly all meat (very little filler). And while most items at Haddad's are fried, there are some slightly more healthy options, including the outstanding lobster casserole that comes with a sweet-tasting seafood stuffing and the similarly impressive seafood casserole which includes scallops, lobster, haddock, and shrimp, complete with the aforementioned stuffing. Other healthy items include the baked stuffed shrimp, the twin boiled lobsters (when available), and either the broiled scallop or haddock casserole.
Going to Haddad's on a Saturday night may indeed be an excuse to spend some time in a classic old New England seaside village close to Boston...or perhaps it is the other way around? No matter what your reason for going to the Brant Rock part of Marshfield, it is just about a certainty that you will be getting some good eats of the seafood variety, especially if you end up at Haddad's Ocean Cafe. [JANUARY 2013 NOTE: Haddad's has moved to a new, larger structure that is behind the old one (which was torn down). We will be reviewing the new space over the coming weeks.]
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