By SUSAN ERICSON
The Chowda House, just across Bridge Avenue from the Red Bank train station, makes some fantastic clam chowder, which also happens to be the hottest takeout item on the menu, waitress Tish Mancia tells PieHole.
But the fish and chips, we’re told, is the second-most ordered item — and according to many PieHole readers, the best fried fish in the area.
We take claims such as this seriously, and went to investigate for ourselves.
The entrance to the main dining room is decorated in vintage fishing gear and a fish tank in a porthole. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
The lunch menu at Chowda House has several sandwich choices with fried seafood fillings, including fried shrimp, clams, flounder or pollock. It also features landlubber fare, such as grilled cheese and chicken breast sandwiches.
It’s the fish and chips ($9.95) lunch though, that impressed. Three large pieces of fresh beer-battered pollock — as opposed to four in the $13.95 dinner serving — were crunchy on the outside and flaky-tender on the inside. If the fish doesn’t fill you up, the abundant mound of hand-cut fries that come with the order will.
With our order we got a choice of tartar, cocktail or aioli sauce, all made on premises. For an authentic touch, add a sprinkle of malt vinegar to the fish.
A smaller container of coleslaw consists of shredded green and red cabbage, carrots and onion. It’s also made fresh in-house, and is a terrific textural counterpoint to the fried food.
The restaurant has funky-fun interior decor, with a medieval-looking gate at the entrance to the dining room, vintage fishing spears and a ship;s wheel on the walls and a fish tank that’s home to a puffer fish named Chowda.
Chowda House is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.