Raised in New England it is hard to believe that I have never been to Rhode Island before. As a kid trips to the seashore predominantly were in Northern Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. We definitely missed out on some great southern locations. If your from the New England growing up arms length from the Atlantic, you know the draw the ocean can have on one’s soul. The Atlantic is a source of recreation, travel, work, subsistence, art and life’s joy.
Finn’s Harborside in East Greenwich, RI is a consistently good place to take in local seafood, reconnect with friends, and recharge one’s soul. Right on the docks in Greenwich Cove, Finn’s staff greets each patron and welcomes them as only the locals can.
Ok, so your in New England and on the water. You want seafood, where do you turn to? For non-natives you might be after a lobster, but as a native son providing this review, its all about the lobstah! Unfortunately this day non-would be had, turns out the whole shipment was bad. No worries, Finn’s offers a broad menu to provide tasty plates of local seafood presented to satisfy the search for the taste of New England. Guided by Danny on some outstanding alternatives, including some that have lobstah in them, we all left fully satisfied. Danny took care of our group almost single handily, he did well with this group.
We’ll touch on the outrageous but tasty in a minute. I have to introduce a Rhode Island treat that goes beyond mind blowing. I am a nut for the clam, in all styles fried, steamed, and in chowdah. There are Quahogs, Little Necks, Soft Shell, Hard Shell, Atlantic Razors and they are used differently in various New England seafood cooking. In Rhode Island they have found a new way of serving up this delectable bi-valve.
In Rhode Island there is calm dish that seems so simple but oh so good, they call it simply The Stuffie! Picture traditional New England stuffing from Thanksgiving rocked to the next level with savory components that accent the clam. One starts with the Quahog clam, chopped up with chorizo then mixed with breading, scallions, garlic, and other seasoning, baked and served on the half shell. The Stuffie is the best mix of sea and land I have come across in a long time. Finn’s offers an appetizer of two Stuffies, but after having just one you will want more. Our film crew enjoyed them, even Bill our land-loving fare aficionado (after being coaxed by Gus to try) said the Stuffie was tasty. The flavors are other worldly, you have to try them. With a Harpoon IPA, the Stuffies gave us a great start.
Next came a bowl of clam chowdah. Finn’s serves a
traditional New England Clam Chowdah, as well as a Rhode Island and Manhattan Clam Chowder. Now, fellow New Englandah’s which is the best? Of course, its the New England Clam Chowdah with its cream and clam juice broth, potatoes, onions or scallions, and of course the little neck clams. Rhode Island Chowder is more like a soup with its clear broth and Manhattan Chowder is like a bisque with its tomato based broth. Both are good in their on right, but they miss on the true sense of a chowdah as time tested and preferred by New Englanders. Fisherman came up with the recipe and others have added alternates, but a New Englandah Chowdah starts with the cream and clams. Finn’s chowdah is hearty and rustic, true to traditional style and all so creamy. The chef cooks the little necks just right so they are tender, not rubbery, with no grit. The flavors of this chowdah blend so well, add a few oyster crackers and you have a meal.
To top off this clam fest the main dish selected was Finn’s Fried Clam Dinner, served with their Hand Cut Fries, house cole slaw and side of tartar sauce, order this platter and unbuckle the belt. The whole belly clams, true to a traditional preparation, were breaded and fried to perfection. Not overly oily, with Finn’s clams you get more of the clam flavor than what it is coated with or cooked in. The clams were well cleaned, meaning they had been purged of sand really well before shucking. Served whole belly style, allows one to pick up hints of the water these tasty little morsels were collected. A side of tarter sauce just for a little zing, salted fries, and this “Clam Happy” meal was fantastic.
Finn’s offers other seafood staples central around the use of cod, scallops, shrimp and scrod. Baked, sauteed, broiled, breaded there are a number of traditional plates for all palates. Serving up lobster claw and knuckle meat in sandwiches, macaroni-cheese, in a scampi-style plate also are note worthy belly stuffers. Finn’s does go for the outrageous by serving a monster lobster roll that is without comparison. Finn’s Ultimate Lobster Roll was order by some of our group to share. Over two feet in length, fresh lobster salad is served over Boston Bib Lettuce on a loaf of fresh ciabatta bread. Its two feet of sweet and tasty, overflowing with our favorite little crustacean!
Chef Jeffery Donovan, Chef Iva Reynhout, Danny and the rest of the staff at Finn’s Harborside will treat you as a local, steer you on the path of righteous seafood and provide a true taste of New England that cannot be beat! Check them out next time your in East Greenwich (38 Water Street, East Greenwich, RI 02818 / (401) 884-6363