Boston Restaurant Blog -- August, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I typically get to Marblehead about two or three times a year, usually hitting such restaurants as The Landing, Pellino's, or The Barnacle. But after hearing some good things from family members about a local spot called the Three Cod Tavern, we decided to give the place a try.
The Three Cod Tavern is located in an old building near the center of Marblehead, just far enough from the quaint Old Town section of the community to be rather quiet and uncrowded. From the outside, the restaurant looks like it might be a townie joint that is full of charm and character, and while it is certainly a local hangout, the place has been renovated to the point of looking rather plain inside, with a suspended ceiling seeming particularly out of place here. The dining area is spacious and comfortable, however, with wooden tables and chairs spaced nicely apart from each other, and carpeting that helps to keep the noise level down. The main dining area takes up the left part of the space, while the bar takes up a smaller section along the right half in a separate room (and is quite a bit more boisterous than the dining area).
We began our meal with a chowder and a salad, and while the chowder was outstanding with a traditional thin broth and plenty of clams, the Three Cod salad was a bit of a mess. It consisted of a wedge of iceberg lettuce swimming in an excessive amount of blue cheese, with crispy bacon on top and tomatoes around the lettuce. The salad probably would have been fine with half the amount of blue cheese, and as it turned out, it did taste quite good after I scooped much of the cheese aside. A very short time after we received our chowder and salad, our meals came out, forcing me to put the salad aside until later. And our server tried to take the chowder away even though it was still being worked on, which is about as big a no-no as bringing meals out immediately after soups and salads.
Fortunately, the entrees pretty much made up for the initially negative experiences at the Three Cod Tavern, as the fried flounder was simply wonderful, with a delicious batter used to cover the huge piece of fish that had no waste on it whatsoever, while the crabmeat stuffed sole had a perfect mix of sweetness from the crab and a pleasantly mild flavor from the sole. These dishes were at least as good as similar seafood dishes I've tried at other spots in Marblehead, if not better. Prices were reasonable, and service seemed to settle down a bit as the evening went on, and to be fair, our server was friendly and low-key.
While the Three Cod Tavern seems to be a little-known spot in Marblehead, I'm not quite prepared to say it is a hidden gem. The food was mostly good, but the atmosphere wasn't all that memorable and we did have some issues initially with the service. But if you are looking for decent seafood in this North Shore town and don't want to deal with the crowds that places nearer the water sometimes get, the Three Cod Tavern really isn't a bad option at all.
For those who want the address and phone number for the Three Cod Tavern, here it is: Three Cod Tavern, 141 Pleasant Street, Marblehead, MA 01945; the phone number is (781) 639-3263.
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