At Burke's, dinner goes from the fish case to your plate
The fish you eat at Burke’s Seafood is in the display case, cut by Richard Burke, who opened the place in 1979 and has been behind the counter ever since. Much of that catch is for cooking at home. Now Burke’s uses its own seafood to make lunch and dinner in a casual, friendly atmosphere. Joining Burke in this venture is his wife, Margaret, and their son Matt. You know exactly what you’re getting because they remove it from the case in front of you and whisk it to the kitchen to be cooked.
In fact, you place your order next to the fish display, then head to the adjacent small dining room with seven tables to wait for your order. If the staff is busy in the kitchen, you can help yourself to water at a small serving station.
Crab cakes ($3.99) are golden mounds and enough to share (I am not sharing), with generous chunks of crabmeat in a moist filling, slightly crisp on the outside and barely breaded. They’re served with Matt’s divine spicy mustard-mayo sauce. I could have a couple of these for dinner and leave happy. But then I’d miss the stuffed quahogs ($3.99), Margaret’s specialty. Quahogs are the official shellfish of Rhode Island, which produces a quarter of the country’s annual catch. Margaret fashioned her recipe from those in Rhode Island fish markets. She mixes clams with her own stuffing, which includes linguica and a splash of hot sauce for a smoky, spicy flavor. The second time we order them, we’re charged only $2.99 because “the shells are smaller today.’’
Lobster rolls ($14.99) come heavy on the lobster meat - fresh, never frozen - light on the mayo, served on an overstuffed, toasted hot dog bun. No little green things, no lettuce. The overflowing lobster falls onto the plate and must be scooped up with a fork to eat (I am not complaining). On the side, I order ethereally light onion rings.
You can also get 1 1/4-pound steamed lobster with corn on the cob ($14.99). The lobster is tender and so fresh you can almost taste the ocean brine.
If it’s fried seafood you’re looking for, Burke’s delivers in a straightforward style. Scallop dinner ($13.99) is a generous portion of sweet and tender shellfish, with french fries and cole slaw. Fish and chips ($9.99) is a large, crispy helping of scrod. Two of us share the enormous fisherman’s platter ($17.99), with delicious haddock, scallops, and clams. Note: Many dishes are available in smaller portions.
Dinners from the broiler are served with rice pilaf or roast potatoes and slaw. Salmon ($13.99) is a thick slice, perfectly cooked, with very light crumb topping.
On our way out, we grab a couple of frozen entrees, homemade on the premises, for when, and if, we get hungry again.
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