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Seafood Center

Seafood Center signIn a word: You're home for Friday Fish fry. 

The specs: #0590  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at  Yelp, At First Taste, Madison Fish Fry; official web site, Facebook, Seafood Center on Urbanspoon

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Brett, JM and Nichole ate the Smorgasbord family entree and a side of clam strips.
The bill was $30, or $10/person.
Brett, JM and Nichole gave Seafood Center an A (see our grading rubric).

Seafood Center has been our carryout staple for a while now. It's become a Friday treat to call ahead but arrive a little early to peek into the live lobster tank and check out the cold case, frequently stocked with such delights as crab and asparagus soup, wine-pickled herring, squid salad, nova lox, and stuffed clamshells (a la QQ Buffet but less sketchy). We also like it for summer grilling splurges, tilapia for tacos, and the very occasional attempt at homemade sushi rolls. The staff have always been helpful and patient even in a crushing crowd. So, yeah, we're biased, and Seafood Center better never go the way of their erstwhile neighbor Artamos or there will be rending and gnashing and the like.

Smorgasbord

A starter of clam strips was a revelation to Nichole and JM, who'd never tried them; more-experienced Michigander Brett said these were pretty good, as thin and chewy as they should be.

The Smorgasbord included about three pieces each of cod, perch, shrimp, and scallops plus a generous side of fries. The breading on all the items seemed identical, though we didn't inquire about cooking procedures.

The pieces of cod were thick and moist, the perch fillets thin and more assertive in their wholesome fishiness. The shellfish were even better: the scallops were huge and meaty, each bite releasing a mix of juices that was just amazing. The shrimp were crazyfresh with flavorful, pinkish meat and bright tails.

Fry skinThe fries had a superlative crispness and some pieces were skin-on and looked hand-peeled. Indeed, other than the fact that you eat them at home, these may be some of the best fries around.

The sauces were not great; the tartar tasted a little off and the cocktail sauce was flat. That's easy enough to remedy with another dive into the cupboard, however. Besides, what you really want is malt vinegar. The side of coleslaw was creamy and mayonnaise-based.

Dinner was supplemented by some pickles and, what else, lemonade from the fridge, plus some excellent beer pairings courtesy of Brett: Picnic Ants and Big O from O'so were light and a bit sweet, a good counterpoint to all the grease and salt. If we'd thought to get some dinner rolls, a salad and maybe a key lime pie the meal would have been perfect.

Comments

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You guys didn't have a Howard Johnson near your youthful stomping grounds?? Clam strips are the shit. Red Lobster's version are a pale imitation, and now I've got one more reason to finally get to Seafood Center.

OMG, fried clams are a childhood favorite...mostly from many meals @ Friendlys (eastcoast only?) That is where I developed a dangerous need for tartar sauce with ever order of fries (accompanied by fried clams or not) and I must now try this place out. Thanks!

I love buying fish there - one of the few places in town that has 100% fresh (as in - never been frozen) fish. I've never tried the carry-out dinners there - now I will!!

Yes, Friendly's is East Coast only [sadly]

One of the (many) reasons I miss Madison. Friday's was almost always take out from the Seafood Center.

So I went here tonight after reading this review. I've been once before to buy fresh fish, but forgot that I wanted to try the hot food.
I called ahead and was glad because when I got there at 6pm there was maybe 10 people waiting. I got the fried catfish basket (6.99): 4 pieces catfish, small ramekin of coleslaw and a basket of fries.
I'm not usually a fish fry person, mainly for nutrition reasons, but I liked it quite a bit. Probably because the fish was actually fresh. I've never had fried clams so I'll probably try that next time. It just probably won't be back for a few months (again nutrition...)

Went there tonight and got the exact same order you guys did. Loved it - my husband, and especially my cat, went wild over it!

Like!

I {heart} Seafood Center. And yes, fried clam strips are indeed the shiz. And I also echo the sadness at Friendly's only existing on the east coast - their coffee ice cream and black raspberry ice cream are still sentimental favorites (there are a few in western OH, but still almost 300 miles away).

Anyway, I digress... Seafood Center is one of my favorite places to get take-out, I just wish they were open a little later during the week, so we could pick something up on the way home from work.

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