Lobster-crab corn chowder. Actual chunks of lobster, not the kind from a can or even processed. One dollar per half-cup. All you can eat. Jen and I shared three of Brindisi’s winning chowder at our first Saratoga Chowderfest on Saturday. The restaurant that was the buzz of downtown was not officially announced the winner (so far as I can tell), but there’s no doubt in my mind that it earned its third consecutive victory.
Of the seventeen area restaurants participating in this year’s competition, we went to five of them. We wanted to sample more, but felt like a sixth type of chowder would push us over the top. After five-and-a-half half-cups, our hearts were racing and we were feeling a bit chowder-dazed — like the tryptophan effect from eating too much turkey.
Along with Brindisi’s (also the location of a wine tasting class we’re taking later this week), we sampled chowder from Bailey’s Cafe, The Stadium (a sports bar where we went again Sunday night to watch the first half of the Super Bowl), Scallion’s (where I ate a solo lunch when I first visited Saratoga), and Lillian’s.
The chowder was all very different and all very good. The only questionable cup of chowder was that from Lillian’s, which served a Caribbean variety filled with too-chewy conch. After Brindisi’s, my favorite was from The Stadium, whose chowder was the most traditional New England style: Thick white seafood. The next night at the Super Bowl, I made the mistake of ordering a chicken pasta that was terrible.
Though we didn’t turn in our ballots or purchase the official event sweatshirt, Chowderfest ’04 was a great way to explore the neighborhood restaurants and begin to feel like members of this unique community.