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Maine Fish House

Food Review           by Howard Steven Frydman

Restaurant:           Maine Fish Market Restaurant

Location:             60 Bridge Street
                         Warehouse Point, East Windsor, CT
                         (860) 623-2281
Overall Rating: 5 stars

   “Mr. Frydman, what is your favorite restaurant”?- I hear that same mantra several times a week, during the holidays, almost daily! With a rapidly developing smile on my fish eyed Frydman face, my reply is always the same. Bar none, my all time favorite restaurant in Connecticut is the Maine Fish Market Restaurant. I have stated that fact more often than my own social security number. In many instances, I have met up with folks who have also come to that same conclusion regarding the Maine Fish Market, and hand upward to heaven, we have spent hours discussing “the Market’,  as liken to those who might debate, the Boston Red Sox, the writing of  German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche or the benefits of a Roth IRA, we brazenly have taken up the  pros and cons of baked or broiled lobster, the complexities of “the Maine Fish Market’s” homemade Ritz cracker based stuffing or the unique subtleties of  their New England Clam Chowder. The plain fact is their fish is fresh, prepared brilliantly and just simply lip-smacking delicious! That surely explains the lines that are already queued up at 10:30 am on weekdays and noon on weekends waiting to get in.

Since the first time I wrote about the Maine Fish Market, over 5 years ago, telling all within earshot it was a “hidden gem” that I hold near and dear as one of my favorite eateries--it has always amused me when someone calls, writes or right in-my face  discloses that they have found “the best restaurant in Connecticut”, the Maine Fish Market, and that I have to check it out--thus I have to remind them, (as I Laugh out Loud) it was me who told them about it in the first place! As I originally stated, brothers Nick and John Vamvilis are owners of a true pearl gem of a restaurant and a darling of those who love fish and its savory underwater cousins. The Maine Fish Market Restaurant has been a family staple in the Warehouse Point section of East Windsor since 1980, originally the equally famous “Pizza House” started by their father Peter Vamvilis, and renamed the “Maine Fish Market” by their mother, Patricia, who herself came from Beneford, Maine, and wanted to bring a small part of her native state to Connecticut. When asked what makes the Maine Fish Market unique Nick Vamvilis quickly states, “consistency and freshness”. Asked what he is most proud of, Nick emphatically states, “ our Maine Fish Market Annual Golf Tournament” which raises funds to feed the homeless at such local service organizations including; Enfield Loaves and Fishes, Enfield Food Shelf and Five Corner Cuppard in Broadbrook CT. In the past 5 years our golf tournament has generated enough funds to feed 30-40 thousand people who would otherwise go hungry without our help.” The next Maine Fish Market Golf Tournament will take place next May at the Hampden Country Club in Hampden, Mass.   

For those familiar with the Maine Fish Market, a large wooden sign sways back and forth outside the restaurant with its depiction of a Maine Lobster, beckoning hungry visitors to those luscious aquatic delicacies that await you within. Once inside, you are met with a chalkboard describing the daily specials as you make way to either the bar area or the dining area. The bar area seats 60 and serves complimentary nachos and salsa, popcorn and homemade potato chips. As originally described, the dining areas are vast with large aquariums located in each section for diners to watch their finny friends and I would assume for they to watch us. The dining rooms are bright, clean, and cheerful with various pictures of sailing ships, mounted fish and lobsters hanging on the walls.  Booths and tables are large, comfortable and inviting. 

Ordering here at the Maine Fish Market can be a “Zen” experience as you meditate over the awesome selection  of fresh fish that the extensive menu so richly describes, We are lucky this evening that owner and Executive Chef,  Nick Vamvilis, is personally preparing our repast and kindly makes suggestions while bringing out special items for me to taste.  I begin with a sampling of a bowl of Cajun Seafood Gumbo- a delicious spicy brew , chock full of calamari, shrimps, scallops, crab meat surrounded by celery, onion , and chopped tomatoes swimming in a delectable pepper based stock.  A wonderful ratio of soup stock to seafood and we are pleased that warm crusted bread is provided to dredge up every wonderful morsel.  

Nick brings out the following appetizers for me to try including a labor of love- the Crab Cakes. Now I have been all throughout New England and nothing- absolutely nothing- can compare to the delicious crab cakes prepared and served here.  These beautiful puffy cakes are massive disks of succulent crab in a delicate cracker mixture, blissfully filled with large pieces of crab. Next we enjoy the Fried Lobster meat- choice pieces of Lobster lightly coated with a delicate batter and served with warm melted butter (my mouth is still watering as I write these words). I save the best for last, and if you only order one thing, please make it the Fried Whole Belly Clams- oh joy-please one moment while I collect myself-, these fresh whole belly clams as my father Jack Frydman would say are, “Hands Off - they’re all mine”.  An overflowing platter of these lightly battered mouth poppers are sweet and as fresh as they get, they will have you coming back for more.

The house special this evening is “Nick’s Extra Special Fisherman’s Platter” which Nick makes especially for me and includes a bigger than life platter of baked stuffed shrimp- stuffed with the already mentioned and debated, crab meat, sea scallops and Ritz cracker mixture. The “Platter” also contains a massive assortment of “coconut breaded shrimps”, fried haddock and a mound of Nick’s exclusive extra krunchy French fries. I also get to sample the fresh Salmon Steak, served with a side of house seafood stuffing and rice. Once again, I am simply amazed at the portions of the Salmon served; it is ULTRA HUGE and yes cooked to perfection, flakey and flavorful. All Dinners include salad, French Fries or rice, and choice of cole slaw, pasta salad or vegetable and bread and butter. After 3pm baked potato can be substituted for rice or fries.

Nick knows I have a sweet tooth and he has come prepared for my visit with an offering of his home-made Rice Pudding lovingly made by owner Nick Vamvilis himself from a 2000 year old Greek recipe that is smooth and delicate with a hint of cinnamon and garnished with whipped cream and a cherry. The Maine Fish Market also now serves up a wonderful assortment of fresh “Cheesecake Factory” cheesecakes, I sample the “Boston Creame Pie Cheesecake---soft, sweet, sensational!  I am not finished with desserts yet as Nick presents me with a luscious mammoth serving of Carrot Cake, that he gets directly from the equally famous Pasticceria Italia pastry shop situated in Bloomfield Connecticut. Consisting of 6 abundant layers, the Carrot Cake is topped with coconut shavings, candied pecans and garnished with fresh whipped cream - all I can say is this is mouth watering amazing!!

 I have made it clear to all, that my all time favorite restaurant is indeed the Maine Fish Market!! Sometimes I feel like Paul Revere spreading the word through the country side hoping that someone is hearing my missives. But, you have heard, and I am so glad that I played a small part in you finding and now enjoying this superb dining destination. The Maine Fish Market Restaurant is a singular pleasure that you owe yourself the opportunity to partake in. I only ask one favor, please don’t call, write or email me that YOU were the one that found this excellent restaurant--the secret is now out of the bag!!! Enjoy!!! 

Hours: Monday 10:30am -9pm:  Tuesday-Thursday 10:30am – 9pm
            Friday-Saturday 10:30am-10pm: Sunday 12pm -9pm

Banquet facility Available
Major Credit Cards accepted
Wheelchair assessable