306 South F Street Aberdeen, WA 98520 360-532-5693 I love seafood. My favorite is razor clams—if done the way my mom did them when I was growing up. And the way that the now defunct Alexander Young School did on clam feed nights. Cracker meal. That’s the key. Harborites love seafood in general, and the one restaurant that is the hands-down local choice for deep fried goodies from the briny deep is Breakwater. On one wall they have 10 awards given to them by the Daily World for best of seafood in the Twin Harbors (Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties). The paper asks people to submit choices and, just to demonstrate how constant support for Breakwater Seafoods has been, they received the 10 awards from the 13 years that award has been offered. [updated 8.21.11: a new player on the harbor has received the award for 2011! I do love competition] The restaurant is situated on the Wishkah, just north of Breakwater’s old storefront. Though the food is popular, they continue the original fish shop orientation: they sell fresh fish, shellfish, pickled fish, smoked fish and other seafood accompaniments. Their smoked sockeye deserves (and will receive) a review of its own. They have outside seating for those folks that want to be close to nature as they can while eating the sea’s bounty. While dining and lunching there I’ve seen otter, heron and the errant harbor seal (which, surprisingly, explore pretty far up the Wishkah on their quest for finned prey).
The outside of the business is as attractive as the inside. It looks exactly like a seafood and chowder place should. There is a bank of bar chairs facing the Wishkah River and several tables for two to four people in the alcove that serves as the dining room. You order at the counter, receive a number and wait for the food to be delivered to your table. Sodas and ice tea is available (you fill them yourself). Beer is available, too. They have malt vinegar at each table.
Their housemade clam chowder is satisfyingly bacon-y. It goes as far towards smoky bacon-ness as a chowder can while still remaining true to the clam flavor that should dominate. Additionally, it is thick without being cloyingly thick. Chowder at some fish houses resembles a thick béchamel/white sauce with some clam bits suspended in it. Not so here. It is thick enough, but not too thick. My wife and I have eaten around the entire menu, and we both agree that the deep fried offerings are the most outstanding. My mother, though, loves the crab salad, and I can understand why: the ration of crab to greens is quite generous. My wife has had the taco salad as an experiment to see if they are consistent, and she reports that the taco salad, while not exceptional, is more than adequate.
My personal favorite is the deep fried oyster plate. Occasionally, they have yearlings on special. The last time we visited the oysters were the perfect blend of juicy, creamy and briny and came with a serving of coleslaw. They fry to order, so expect everything to come super hot and super crisp. Ketcup and tartar sauce is available at the register via a couple of pumps. Oysters come with cocktail sauce, but, if you want it with other offerings, you need to request it with your order.
The dish that my wife and I order most consistently is the deep fried calamari and chips. It is her favorite. Originally, they called it squid and chips, but, I guess, “calamari” is the most saleable version of that product. It comes in long strips (it is not baby squid as served to those who really don’t like the flavor of squid), and is almost always very, very tender. Of the many times I have had the squid, it has been overcooked exactly two times and crispy on the outside every time. The other several dozen times the squid has been perfect, moist and tender. Nutshell: Fresh deep fried seafood cooked to order at a good price in large quantities. What more could you ask for? They’ve got fresh fish and seafood available for the home chef. They have the best smoked salmon (sockeye, in-house smoked) that I’ve had thus far on the harbor. Canned goods, rubs, sauces, batter bases and cookbooks are available there.