Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eastman's Docks revisited

I have one annual trip to Northern Massachusetts. Without exception I end up at Eastman's Docks to dine during my stay. This as I and Merrilee Eastman, the proprietor, have known each other for 20 years. The main reason is, however, the food. September 2009, I was spoiled rotten by Merrilee. The food was de-li-ci-ous.

Location: BBB+

Eastman's Docks is located between Newburyport MA and Portsmouth NH, and you need a car to get there. This is an area where there are practically no public transportation.

The nearest train or bus is either at Newburyport (suburban line to Boston / Bus) or Portsmouth NH (Bus). If you rent a car, you drive along 1A towards Portsmouth. and stop just as you leave the barrier island at Seabrook NH Once you are there you experience an area of beauty.

The restaurant face the salt marshes that separates the barrier island on which the communities of Seabrook N.H., and Salisbury MA rests from the mainland.

The restaurant is located away from the ocean, sheltering it from the sea and you can enjoy a view to Hampton Beach and the marshes, that flood during high tide.

Interior & atmosphere: BBBB

This is certainly not the posh refined dinner, rather the interior of Eastman's Docks reflects the relaxed atmosphere at the beach.

During peak season, it is packed with people. I usually visit around the labour day weekend, when Eastman's Docks close for the season, and most of the guests have left.

Eastman's has a rustic wooden interior. I usually prefer to sit outside with a view to the water. Here you can sit with the salt marsh as your nearest neighbour.

The are plenty of room around the table, and you are seated comfortably. This is however a place for informal dining. No table cloth, cutlery, or napkin. The table is stripped down to bare necessity. Here you get what is necessary when served.

Service: BBBBB-

As this is relations, I might get even better service than others, but friends that I have brought to Eastmans have loved the place.

This time I was the only person there, as this was the first weekend after end of peak season, and it was just around opening time. The staff here are genuinely clever, good at small talk, professional, and food is served quickly. Service at Eastmans is terrific.


The chowder sampler: BBBBB

Chowders are thick soups traditional to the eastern seaboard of the US. When visiting Boston, try the famous Clam Chowder.

As I arrived at Eastman's Docks, Merrilee Eastman - the proprietor, presented me with three different chowders as a sampler of what the kitchen had to offer.

The traditional clam chowder - rich, mild and creamy. As contrast there was a small cup of corral coloured lobster bisque, sweetened by sherry and the house's corn chowder. The latter had the very interesting taste derived from shrimps marinated in Cajun spices. All soups had that crunch from perfectly prepared vegetables, and well balanced seasoning, neither too sweet, sour or salty.

I can highly recommend all of the soups if on menu. For those faint hearted, I would hesitate to choose the corn chowder, as it has that additional heat from the Cajun spices. The other two, however, are well suited for any pallet.

Hot Buffalo Tenders: BBBBB-

Hot Buffalo Wings or Tenders are among my absolute favourites, and I certainly know how to appreciate a portion of this Northern New England specialty.

Buffalo tenders are supposed be a spicy experience - glaced with a hot sweet and sour marinade, then fried. The dish is served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing.

The Buffalo tenders at Eastman's Docks are a fiery experience. Well prepared, tender and succulent with a crunchy crust. It has that slight sour, sweet and salty aroma well balanced with the mild blue cheese dressing.

A real knockout of an appetizer. If you urge for a snack, try it with a freezing cold beer on a warm summer day. Irresistible!!!

Baked stuffed haddock: BBBBB-

The baked stuffed haddock at Eastman's Docks mirrors the culinary opulence of the Ottoman cuisine. The Ottoman rulers loved to create a cornucopia of meats or fish stuffed with different exotic fillings.

The baked stuffed haddock is such a rich dish. Under the crispy crunchy crust, you find the most deliciously tender and moist fish - flaky but still firm. Then you cut into the most delicious creamy seafood filling. It is served with homemade creamy potato mash and perfectly cooked broccoli.

The only down side to this dish is that it is simply too much of it. I did not manage to eat up all, and it is a shame to let food like this go to waste.

Beverage: BBBB+

For those of you that know your Monty Python, I know the comparison between "American beer and making love in a row boat - it is fucking close to water." In spite of this, there is no other choice for me to such food as one (or two) ice cold Samauel Adams Boston Lager. It is refreshing and soothing when eating the hot food, and does not interfere too much with the taste.

Rating the Eastman's Docks experience: BBBB+ (4,40 points - new average 4,26 points)

Another great meal offered by Merrilee and her staff. Excellent food in an informal atmosphere, right by the water - who can ask for more!

Eastman's Docks
7 River St, Seabrook, NH 03874
Phone: +1 (603) 474-7063
See restaurant website here

For more restaurant in Northern Massachusetts see this map

View New England on Enjoy Food & Travel 2006 - 2009 in a larger map

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

we've been there twice and it sucked both times, not to mention the prices were outrageous.