10 Great Dock & Dines

Awesome fish 'n chips at Capt. Scott's Lobster Dock in New London. Photos/New England Boating.
Fish ‘n chips at Capt. Scott’s Lobster Dock, New London, CT.

This season, pay a visit to the following NEBO-tested dock-and-dine restaurants from Maine to Connecticut!

Waterfront Restaurant, Camden, ME

10 Great New England Dock & Dines, 2014
Waterfront Restaurant, Camden, Maine.

For tasty fare served with a side of Camden Harbor scenery, head for the Waterfront Restaurant on Bayview Street. The New England Boating crew called on this eatery while shooting the Camden episode of New England Boating TV, and can vouch its quality lunch menu, great views, and super-friendly staff.

The deck area affords a nice view (barring any large yachts docked in front) of the harbor and the endless parade of beautiful boats for which Camden is famous. For food, we enjoyed fish and chips, portabella and red pepper salad, thick and creamy chowder, and the obligatory lobster roll. Oh, and we can’t forget the Maine mussels steamed in white wine, garlic, Spanish onions and scallions—a house specialty. Everything was delicious, and the French fries—served piping hot and golden brown—rated close to perfection.

The Waterfront also has an indoor dining area and a lively evening bar scene. Visiting boaters can sometimes find dock space in front of the restaurant, but will most likely need to leave their dinghy at the Town Dock or use the harbor launch service. Either way, it’s worth the effort.

Kennebec River Tavern, Bath, ME

Steamed lobster and corn, Kennebec River Tavern, Bath, Maine.

Located on the Kennebec River in the city of Bath, Maine, the Kennebec River Tavern offers indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the water. Boaters can tie up along the adjoining marina, which features a long facing float that can accommodate large boats. (Tip: dock with your bow facing upstream to avoid debris collecting along your transom.) KRT serves lobster, sandwiches, steaks, burgers, and more, and has a wide assortment of cold beverages on tap. If you’re lucky, you may even spy a bald eagle flying along the river or a leaping sturgeon while you dine!

Frye’s Leap Café, Sebago, ME

10 Great New England Dock & Dines, 2014
Frye’s Leap Cafe, Sebago, Maine.

This Sebago Lake institution run by David and Amy Wagner is a must-visit among Sebago boaters. Dockage is available along the floats next to the ferry landing, space permitting.

The café has outdoor seating and serves a wide variety of tasty lunch and dinner items, including lobster rolls, salads burgers and creative wraps, but we highly recommend the pizza, shrimp tacos, kickin’ calamari and the “blat” sandwich (trust us, you’ll like it). The fries are outstanding, as well, and the deserts decadent. On weekends, the café serves a special breakfast buffet.

Frye’s Leap is also home to a small bar, which David (a self-described beer geek) has stocked with an outstanding selection of micro-brews. The bar also serves mixed drinks.

Being so popular among fishermen and boaters in general, Frye’s Leap gets pretty busy during peak lunch and dinner hours, so you might have to wait a bit for dock space to open up. Or simply plan to visit during off-peak times.

Town Docks, Meredith, NH

10 Great New England Dock & Dines, 2014
Town Docks

This lively restaurant and bar on Lake Winnipesaukee in Meredith can accommodate one or two small boats along its dock, but there’s additional short-term dockage at the nearby Town Docks, just a few steps away. You can also anchor just offshore.

The restaurant has indoor seating, but most folks choose to hang out near the water and dine at the picnic tables. The restaurant serves lobster dinners, tasty salads, fried seafood plates, burgers, dogs and more. For dessert, try the homemade ice cream. Creative drinks are a specialty, and include a massive brain-freeze colada served in a hollowed-out watermelon.

Finz, Salem, MA

Burger at Finz, Salem, MA.

When New England Boating TV filmed in Salem in 2013, we were treated to a fantastic dock-and-dine experience, courtesy of Finz Seafood & Grill restaurant owner George Carey. Carey launched Finz in 2001 at its current location on Pickering Wharf, in the heart of the Salem waterfront, and has kept the place fresh and popular over the years. The dining focus is squarely on seafood, although Finz also serves some delicious meat, chicken and vegetarian dishes. The atmosphere is upscale yet not too fancy, with tasteful artwork and big windows affording views of the water. Outside tables are also available, too, or you can dine at the bar.

During our visit, which included both lunch and dinner, we sampled an amazing variety of dishes, including fried oysters, fish tacos, burgers, raw oysters, scallops, hamburgers and the crispy haddock burritos—all were delicious. Finz also makes some great cocktails and has an extensive wine list. If arriving by boat, make your way into the channel behind Derby Wharf to Pickering Wharf Marina. Head down the channel leading to the South River and look for an open space along the floating docks. Hail Pickering Wharf Marina (VHF 9; 978-744-2727) to see about tie-up space and duration. They offer 300’ of dock space and can arrange hourly and daily dockage. Cost per foot depends on vessel size. You can also get a mooring in the harbor and catch a ride to the dock via the Salem Water Taxi (978-745-6070).

Barking Crab, Boston, MA

10 Great New England Dock & Dines, 2014
Barking Crab, Boston, MA (photo Barking Crab Restaurant)

Although Boston offers a taste of urban boating at its best, dock-and-dine restaurants are hard to come by. One exception is the Barking Crab, tucked away on the Fort Point Channel in South Boston. This popular “seafood shack”, now in its 21st year of operation, offers open-air dining on picnic tables beneath a tent, as well as limited indoor seating. It’s a fun, loud, kid-friendly place—and the food is delicious.

The large and varied menu features pan-seared scallops, grilled yellowfin tuna, mahi, and swordfish, lobster, baked haddock, snow crab legs, fried clams, and other seafood favorites. Non-fish eaters can choose from a range of sandwiches, soups and salads, and the bar features a host of local micro-brews and wines. Oh, and the french fries are out of this world!

There is one caveat to dining at “The Crab”: dock space is limited, so calling ahead is a good idea, especially on weekends. The outside edge of the northernmost dock finger (closes to the old Northern Avenue Bridge) is open to customers, space permitting. The restaurant’s staff can point out any additional tie-up spots that might be available. Give them a call at (617) 426-2722.

Summer Shanty, West Dennis, MA

Summer Shanty at Bass River Marina, West Dennis, MA.

Among our favorite dock-and-dine spots is the Summer Shanty at Bass River Marina in West Dennis on Cape Cod. The restaurant offers free dockage, space permitting (call the restaurant or hail them on VHF 71 if the slips immediately in front are taken), and both indoor and outdoor seating on the patio and the covered porch overlooking the marina docks on the Bass River. You can also relax with a cocktail or appetizer in the Adirondack chairs arranged on the front lawn—a popular sunset hangout.

The atmosphere is mellow and casual, with soft reggae music playing in the background. Live entertainment is the norm on weekend nights.

The food is excellent, too. We loved the lobster rolls, fish-and-chips, burgers, tuna salad sandwiches, and quahog stuffies. The salads are large and fresh, too.

Boaters should note that the restaurant is located north of the Rte. 28 fixed bridge, which has a clearance of 15’ at MHW. Of course, you can also arrive by land and park in the marina lot. However you get there, you’ll be sure to have a great time—and a great meal!

DeWolf Tavern, Bristol, RI

10 Great New England Dock & Dines, 2014
DeWolf Tavern, Bristol, RI.

While filming the Bristol episode of New England Boating TV, the crew dined at this wonderful restaurant at Thames Street Landing, overlooking Bristol Harbor. The outdoor patio is the perfect place to savor the breeze, watch boats during the day, or enjoy the sunset.

The tavern itself is steeped in history. The building is a renovated stone warehouse built in the early 1800’s by maritime merchants James and William DeWolf for their shipping business in the “Triangle Trade.” The DeWolf brothers, like many other Bristol businesses at the time, produced rum. Their distillery was housed next door in their sister property, now the Bristol Harbor Inn

The restaurant features a raw bar, and serves nice salads with locally grown greens. Maine dishes include filet mignon served with herbed butter and silky mashed potatoes, and tandoor-roasted native lobster. They also make a spectacular tandoor-marinated swordfish served with an apple and cranberry curried couscous, red bell pepper, and toasted sunflower seed sauce.

DeWolf Tavern is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is plenty of parking, as well as dockage at Thames Street Landing.

Capt. Scott’s Lobster Dock, New London, CT

10 Great New England Dock & Dines, 2014
Capt. Scott’s Lobster Dock, New London, CT.

If you find yourself boating in the New London area, do yourself a favor and tie up at Capt. Scott’s Lobster Dock for a great seafood meal or ice cream. The family-owned restaurant, which has been around for 18 years, is located inside Shaw’s Cove, just south of the New London Custom House Pier. The restaurant’s namesake, Captain Thomas A. Scott, built the Race Rock and Ledge Light lighthouses.

To access Shaw’s Cove you’ll need to hail the railroad bridge tender, but the wait is generally short. Once inside, you can usually find an open slip in front of the restaurant; look for the clock signs indicating when the slip owners are due back. If unsure of which slip to borrow, just ask the restaurant staff.

Once ashore, place your order at the window and grab a picnic table under the covered dining area. Capt. Scott’s specializes in fried seafood and lobster, of course, and they do a great job of it. We ordered a variety of items, including fried whole-belly clams, lobster rolls, and chowder, and found all of it delicious. The fried food wasn’t overly greasy and the lobster rolls were heavy on the meat, light on the mayo. Capt. Scott’s also serve steamers, salads, chowder, scallops, grilled chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs and more, plus the aforementioned ice cream.

Edd’s Place, Westbrook, CT

10 Great New England Dock & Dines, 2014
Edd’s Place, Westbrook, CT.

When it comes to dock-and-dine spots, it doesn’t get more authentic than Edd’s—a Westbrook institution. In all honesty, dockage here is limited largely to skiffs, dinghies and other shallow-draft boats that can access the skinny water of the Menunketeset River, which flows behind the restaurant, but many local boaters simply walk here from the various marinas in Westbrook.

Edd’s serves a variety of tasty fare, but the chef will also prepare the fish you bring them, any way you like. We arrived with some sea bass and fluke, and Edd himself fried and sautéed the fillets to perfection! The meal was served with fresh salad and french fries. Of course, you can also order clams, lobster, burgers, and other items, but we say: BYOF (Bring Your Own Fish)!