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Posts Tagged ‘Mary’s Fish Camp’

A week after our wonderful meal at Mary’s Fish Camp, I decided that we needed to do some field research by visiting Pearl Oyster Bar to compare the restaurants.  The story behind the restaurants is that Mary Redding, who was a partner at Pearl Oyster Bar, struck out on her own in 2000 to start Mary’s.

Whereas our dinner at Mary’s began perfectly – we were ushered to a table for two that was available upon our arrival – our dinner at Pearl started on a not so perfect note.  We arrived a little before 8:00 on a summer Friday and were told that the wait would be 35 minutes.  Almost an hour later, we were ushered to our table for two.  And so went the rest of the meal. 

Pearl is a much bigger restaurant and, as a result, it lacks the charm of Mary’s.  Pearl may have come up with the idea of recreating the rustic milieu of coastal New England, but Mary’s rendition feels more authentic. 

After ravishing our oyster crackers, we split an order of the smoked Atlantic salmon with crème fraiche over a johnnycake.  This was a very good dish – I would have preferred more crème fraiche and less salmon, but that’s because I can handle smoked fish in small quantities only. 

My husband got the lobster roll – I didn’t give him a choice…we needed to see who made a better lobster roll – and I got the pan-roasted scallops. You will have to keep reading to get the results of the lobster roll throwdown.  As for the scallops, they were just ok.  The preparation was very fresh and seasonal – with sugar snap peas and grape tomatoes and a few other things that I don’t recall – but the dish was rather bland and several of the scallops were overcooked.  If you consider the price of the dish ($20), it wasn’t half bad, but it didn’t hold a candle to the fish tacos that I had at Mary’s (which cost $2 less).

For dessert (I can feel the lobster roll anticipation mounting), we split the blueberry crumble pie (since reviewed on Serious Eats).  The topping was a bit sweet for my tastes, but the pie was a pretty good dessert for a fish joint. 

As for the lobster roll, Mary’s was the winner, but it was a hard-fought victory.  According to my husband, the lobster salad was more or less the same at both places.  Pearl got a nod for the more generous serving size (for $3 less…a “mere” $27), but the bread (which he described as “buttery goodness”) at Mary’s pushed it over the edge in to the winner column.  The fries were better at Pearl, but that’s beside the point.

I am glad that we tried Pearl once.  I can’t wait to go back to Mary’s.

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We ventured out in the rain (yes, more rain) on Friday night to continue working our way through the list.  Inspired by a quick bite (delicious crab and artichoke  dip) at Ed’s Lobster Bar earlier in the week and in keeping with my “reservation free” summer dining policy, I opted for Mary’s Fish Camp. 

We arrived at 7:15 expecting a wait and were seated immediately.  The restaurant is dingy and cramped in the most charming of ways.  You might expect to find Mary’s tucked away in a New England coastal town rather than on a quintessential West Village corner. 

To start, we split an order of the peekytoe crab beignets with key lime aioli.  I would have preferred a more discernible crab flavor and the dense consistency reminded me more of a hush puppy than a beignet.  The beignets were  enjoyable, but I would recommend venturing elsewhere on the starter menu.   

We had no such complaints about our entrees – summer flounder tacos with pico de gallo and chipotle aioli for me and a lobster roll with french fries for my husband.  Both were excellent and perfectly suited to be enjoyed on a warm summer night.  My husband washed his meal down with a can of NY-state brewed Porkslap Farmhouse ale, which he enjoyed, particularly for $4.

Our only qualm with dinner was the $30 price tag on the lobster roll (my tacos were a reasonable $18), but that’s more of a reflection on NYC than on Mary’s. 

After all but licking our plates, we finished our meal with bread pudding served with hot buttered rum sauce and pecans.  I would have preferred a more summery dessert (sadly, the peach cobbler that was advertised on the chalkboard was not available), but the bread pudding was good if a tad sweet.

I highly recommend a trip to Mary’s in these last lazy, hazy days of summer, before the natives return from the Hamptons and you have to wait an hour for a table.  Camps are meant for summer, after all.

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