An Ode to Dube’s Fried Shrimp

Posted: October 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Dube's Seafood, Salem, Seafood | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Every summer, the local media publish their annual stories on the best ice cream, beaches, and fried clams in New England. Pilgrimages are made to Ipswich and Essex, and the merits of their clam shacks hotly debated.

While I eat and enjoy clams, you’ll notice my artery-threatening seafood of choice is shrimp. And the best fried shrimp on the North Shore is found at Dube’s Seafood in Salem, hands down.

The Pelletier family has run Dube’s (pronounced Doobies) since 1961, when they bought what at one time was a take-out stand from the original Dube. The interior décor likely hasn’t changed much in the past half-century. We’re talking old school here; red vinyl banquettes, laminate tables, wood-paneled walls, and a long low bar. It’s tiny and dive-y but quite comfortable, and the staff is terrifically friendly.

Clichéd as it sounds, for me, Dube’s isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a family tradition. My dad inevitably sees someone he knows there. Whenever one of my siblings comes back to the area to visit, a dinner there is imperative. Whenever a new seafood place opens, Dube’s is the standard to which they are compared.

When we stopped in for dinner last weekend, I realized that I’ve been eating there for something like 30 years. And I have to admit, I always order the same thing—the fried shrimp.  Dube’s menu offers weekly specials in addition to a wide variety of baked, grilled, and fried fish, but somehow when the waitress appears with her pen poised, it’s gotta be the shrimp.

We ordered cocktails, which are incredibly well priced. They run the gamut from old standards like my dirty martini ($5.25) to newer, seasonal creations like the pumpkin martini on offer that night ($6).

The obligatory starter is always the famed onion rings ($6 for small, $8 for large), which are medium cut and not too heavily breaded. Then the hot, succulent, golden entree plate arrives stacked high. I counted 17 shrimp piled on the mound of fries ($14.95). The coating is light and crisp, and the seafood moist and incredibly fresh tasting.

Not having grown up with a fried shrimp obsession, my partner in crime debates his choice of entrée each visit. This time, he decided on a fish stew special. It was an impressive bowl, full of shrimp, scallops, haddock, and clams in a rich, satisfying broth, served with rice and fresh-cut veggies on the side ($10.95).

Far enough from the center of town in a mostly residential neighborhood, our waitress tells us that Dube’s doesn’t get the huge influx of tourists around Halloween that most of Salem does. “Unless they ask a local where to go for seafood, then they come here.” And that about sums it up. Locals in the know will tell you Dube’s is the place to go for the best fried seafood around.

Dube’s Seafood
317 Jefferson Ave, Salem
(978) 744-9531

Dube's on Urbanspoon

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The Line on Hooked

Posted: May 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Casual/Pub Food, Hooked, Marblehead, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

When the eye-catching blue and yellow Coming Soon signs appeared in the windows of 114 Pleasant St. in Marblehead last week, locals were impressed. Although the new restaurant, Hooked, won’t open until June, it’s already got a website with a sample menu and a twitter feed to boot.

“Oh,” you might say, “A seafood restaurant in a shore town, how (yawn) exciting.” But the truth is, with its family-friendly combination of casual restaurant and take-out, Hooked’s unique approach may just be what some are looking for, especially as it will be open for lunch.

I stopped by today and chatted with partners Ben Rhodes and Rafe Hershfield about their new venture. Rhodes, a well-known Marblehead native, owns the building and for many years ran the Super Sub that Hooked is replacing. He was ready for something new, and long discussions with the enthusiastic Hirschfield gave birth to this concept.

The space will feature about 32 seats in a combination of counter, high-top tables, and regular tables. Diners will order at the counter, their meals will be brought to them, and they’ll bus their own tables as they depart. A step above the familiar red-and-white checked paper baskets, the food will be served on china with flatware, and a selection of beer and wine will be served.

Hershfield promises the fried offerings will be fresh, not frozen, with generous portions at highly competitive prices. Clam strip fans will be intrigued—the jumbo refers not to the portion but to the size of the clams.

Unlike the standard clam shack, Hooked’s menu will include plenty of fresh fish (locally sourced when possible) as grilled and baked options, with items like swordfish kabobs over salad for healthy or gluten-free choices. Less-common sandwiches like crab cake sliders and fish tacos will also make an appearance, and the guys hinted at a few more menu surprises they have up their sleeves.

Everything will be available for take-out, which is sure to please summer beachgoers and boaters. The interior is getting a complete overhaul, including a brand-new kitchen, and they plan to open in mid to late June. Rhodes says farther down the line, they are looking at turning the adjacent driveway into a patio with outdoor seating, something of which Marblehead has surprisingly little.

The restaurant’s website quips “Once you try it you’ll be ‘Hooked’!” and after my visit today, I’m looking forward to returning to see if it’s true.

Edit 7.20.10: You can read about our first visit to Hooked here: A First Look at Hooked, Marblehead’s Newest Seafood Eatery

Hooked Seafood & Grill
114 Pleasant St., Marblehead
781-631-8200
www.hookedmarblehead.com

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Lime Rickey’s: Mom Would Never Approve

Posted: July 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Casual/Pub Food, Lime Rickey's, Marblehead, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

When I was a kid, my mother would herd my siblings and all our friends to the beach on many a summer’s day, but plead as we might, she would never let us buy lunch there. Instead, we would grudgingly eat our limp tuna sandwiches, into which grains of sand invariably found their way, adding grit to every bite. The reason for this torture? Mom would repeat it like a mantra, “Buying food at the beach is too expensive. What do you think I am, made of money?”

Not surprisingly, all these years later, beach food is still expensive. Most beach shacks have a captive audience—unless you bring your own food, they’re the only game around, so their prices don’t have to be competitive.

We accept this; we only wish that Lime Rickey’s at Devereux Beach made us feel better about it. Unfortunately, the quality of the food that we have tasted is less than stellar, and the service, by what appears to be bored college kids, is lackluster at best.

The fried foods are priced similarly to those at the clam shacks in Essex and Ipswich, (clam plate is $18, shrimp plate is $16), but the quality doesn’t come close. The breading is heavy and over-fried, and the only selection that it doesn’t overpower is the scrod, making the fish and chips ($12) a reasonable choice.

The lobster roll is decent, if a bit frou-frou. (Call us purists, but tarragon doesn’t belong in lobster salad.) And at $16 each, these guys clearly haven’t heard that the boat prices have plummeted lately.

The burger is a smallish, previously frozen, overcooked patty, ($5) but the fries (small $3.25, large $4.75) are the coated-to-be-crispy kind and are tasty. For the same money, you could have stopped at Five Guys in Vinnin Square on your way to the beach and gotten a larger, much better tasting burger and much larger fries.

The ice cream, however, is excellent. It’s Richardson’s and is priced similarly to the other places you’ll find it in town, from $1.90 for a single scoop up to $3.90 for a triple.

Aside from the location, which can’t be beat, Lime Rickey’s does have two things going for it. The first is variety; they offer salads, wraps, hummus plates, and a few specialty sandwiches ($5 to $8) in addition to the more traditional beach fare. The second is free live music Friday and Saturday nights in August, and live music at the beach anywhere on the North Shore is pretty hard to come by.

Yes, we’re a bit nostalgic for the days when a hot dog and a Hoodsie could be had for a dollar and a quarter, but the truth is, there are so many excellent North Shore eateries to patronize, the next time we hit Devereux, we’re packing lunch.

Lime Rickey’s
Devereux Beach
105 Ocean Ave, Marblehead
(781) 631-6700
www.limerickeys.com

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