There are plenty of places on Cape Ann that make a good fried haddock sandwich. It’s a pretty simple thing: fried fresh haddock, maybe some cheese and red onion, tartar sauce and a nice soft bun. If you can’t get that right, you shouldn’t be in business. But among all the good options around there are a select few that stand out in my opinion. One of my favorites is the delicious crunchy haddock sandwich made by Periwinkles in Essex, Massachusetts.
Located on the Essex Causeway, right at the river’s edge, they’ve been around for over twenty years. In my early 20’s I spent a summer as their fry cook, making fried clams, squid, scallops, oysters and shrimp. These days, my favorite things on the menu are their award-winning clam chowder, and of course, their crunchy haddock sandwich.
It’s always a thick piece of prime haddock coated in corn flake crumbs and deep-fried to perfection. I skip the optional lettuce, tomato and onion and go just for the tartar sauce. Some haddock sandwiches I like a little more dressed up, but I love the crunchy fish and the soft bun together with not much else getting in the way.
At around $15 it’s not something I get all the time, but is comparable in price to the other top haddock sandwiches around. It is also super convenient since Periwinkles is located just across the Essex boat ramp (really a 1668 shipyard) from us over at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum. So when I need to get a fried fish fix while at work, I can just walk over and feast on this piece of golden perfection.
The options for good food along the Essex Causeway can be a little overwhelming, but I suggest giving Periwinkles a try. The menu has a lot of variety beyond the seafood favorites and the views of the Essex River basin are unmatched. Besides, when you win the award for best clam chowder 14 times in a town that digs clams…you’re doing something right!