When was the last time you had a wicked good clam chowder? Or said the word "wicked" in a sentence, really?
Let's put it this way: You don't know a good bowl of chowder or bisque until you've had it New England-style, direct from Boston.
At least that's the sentiment of Chowder Heads founder Ed Wells, a native New Englander who opened his authentic Northeast seafood house in Jupiter -- what he says is the only South Florida establishment that delivers "real deal" New England seafood dishes, from Maine lobster rolls and bisque to authentic New England clam chowder, crab cakes, and whole-belly fried clams.
Wells has been working the seafood restaurant industry since 1972 after purchasing a well-known seafood restaurant in Salem, Massachusetts, known as Caron's. Despite working with several other well-known area establishments, he later swapped careers and went into construction, leaving the kitchen behind. When he moved his family to South Florida in 1992, Wells decided to start cooking again and began replicating Caron's famous lobster rolls and clam chowder and selling it at local greenmarkets and festivals. By 2010, Chowder Heads was born.
For one local fan, Lake Worth resident Harry Conheeny, the lobster rolls were too good to have only once in awhile. Also a native New Englander, he asked Wells to consider moving his operation to a full-service restaurant, and Chowder Heads was born, opening its doors in the Driftwood Plaza off U.S. 1 in Jupiter in 2012.
Their passion: New England seafood. Everything from baked haddock and Ipswich steamers to lobster rolls and fried oysters. Inside the small, comfortable eatery, you'll feel instantly transported to the Northeast. Everything is from New England -- even most of the staff. A bar served New England beer, and New England sports is all that's broadcast on the TVs. But it's the food and the Boston accents that make you think you're not in South Florida anymore.
The menu at Chowder Heads has it all. Chowders and bisques come in Manhattan and New England style, and a list of "wicked good" appetizers includes clam or blue claw crab cakes, fried clams, steamers, and shrimp cocktail. Platters offer larger portions and your choice of a fried or pan-seared selection including lobster, scallops, haddock, or clam. Looking for an authentic clam bake? The place has that too.
The rolls are the main draw, however, and the lobster roll here reigns supreme. Convinced that only true New Englanders know how to serve a real lobster roll, they kept it simple: just fresh Maine lobster meat and a light toss in Hellman's Mayo, served on a real New England hot dog roll -- buttered and grilled, of course. It's also served hot, a light sauté in unsalted butter -- otherwise known as Connecticut style. And it doesn't end there. You can get clam strip, oyster, tuna salad, crab salad, and scallop rolls as well. Then end it all with a slice of Boston cream pie.
If Jupiter is too far a hike for you, a second location -- part of plans to expand the restaurant across South Florida over the coming years -- will open in West Palm Beach this summer. The restaurant will be located at 1900 Okeechobee Blvd. and will be significantly larger, with an expanded menu.
Chowder Heads is located at 2123 U.S. 1 in Jupiter. Visit Facebook, or call 561-203-2903.
Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.