Article by Stavros
Picture this, it’s one of your first days off in the summer and the weather is perfect for a trip to the beach. You pack your car early in the morning with your family or friends and all of the beach essentials. Beach chairs, towels, sun screen and cold drinks in the cooler that will get you through your first of many days spent enjoying the Atlantic coastline. The only thing that can make your experience any better is tasting some of the freshest New England seafood.
Champlin’s Seafood Deck and Fish Market offers perhaps one of the most iconic seafood experiences that you can have in New England. One of the most defining features of the restaurant is its location right on The Breachway between Point Judith Pond and the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, you can take a few steps out of the restaurant and take a quick dip in the salty water if you want.
Aside from being right next to the ocean, another great attribute of the location is that you are only a minutes walk from the Roger W. Wheeler State Beach, and in the opposite direction only a few minutes walk from buying a ticket and hopping on the Block Island Ferry.
Now, the only thing better than the location is the seafood! I have spent many weekends during my childhood driving with my family two hours to and from Point Judith, Rhode Island and yet the most memorable part of all those long trips were the dinners we had at Champlin’s. I remember every morning when we got in the car I thought about what meal I was going to order that day, and every evening that we drove home all I thought about was the next time we would go back.
My go-to meals were always the Lobster Roll or the Scallop Roll. I, like most other young kids preferred a meal that afforded me the opportunity to eat with my hands so naturally anything that held my lobster or scallops for me was a winner. The Lobster Salad Roll comes dressed in mayo with celery, big chunks of claw and tail meat, served on a leaf of lettuce all held on a toasted roll. Over the years as I’ve had the opportunity to try lobster rolls from many other restaurants, I can confidently say that the mayo isn’t over done and is just enough to provide a little more richness to the meal.
The Scallop Roll comes less dressed and features jumbo sized scallops lightly fried and is also served on a leaf of lettuce on a toasted roll. Both choices can be paired with the standard sides like coleslaw, fries or onion rings, but in my opinion the best pairing is a squeeze of lemon right on the seafood itself.
The other meals that kept us coming back year after year are the Fish and Chips, the Clam Strips Platter, the Whole Belly Clams, the Clam Chowder and Lobster Bisque. They make these fried seafood dishes just as good, if not better than anyone else. The Seafood Combo platter and the Clambake with the lobster however, are on a higher level. Both of these dishes come in the form of small mountains of seafood spilling off of the dishes they are served on. Quite arguably these dishes are two of their best and most popular.
The Seafood Combo Platter comes with all of the fried seafood that you expect. Large shrimp, jumbo scallops, fried flounder, clam strips and whole belly clams and served on top a bed of fries with slaw and just the right amount of lemon wedges to complement the dish. The Clambake is a nice break from all the fried food. It comes with a heaping portion of clams and mussels, a big steamed lobster, red potatoes, corn, butter, lemon wedges and a small cup of broth to dunk and rinse the clams in. Both dishes are delicious and a must try for food lovers that want to taste a variety of seafood.
Stav’s Experience: The experience at Champlin’s is one of the most authentic you can get. There are three main sections to the building which include the restaurant and bar on the second level, and the fish market which shares the first floor with an ice cream shop. The best experience at Champlin’s begins by taking a quick walk through the fish market where you can see all of seafood that was caught and brought in that day.
A bonus to the fish market is that you can choose your lobster from the tanks and have it steamed and served to you in the restaurant upstairs. Once you’re done checking out the fish and live crustaceans, you take a walk up the main set of stairs that lead you inside the restaurant and to the register where you order your meal. You then can wait inside until your number is called to pick up your food which is served on paper plates and carried on large trays.
If you do not feel like waiting you can go pick up a drink at the full bar and choose your picnic table. The bar is accessible from both the inside of the restaurant and from the outdoor patio. There are two main sitting areas, the inside of the restaurant and the outdoor patio which is directly above where the fishing boats dock and unload their freshly caught seafood. As you enjoy your meal you can watch the fisherman unload their catch and bring it to the fish market downstairs. My favorite seat is outside on one of the tables where you can smell the salty air as you enjoy your freshly caught seafood.
This great dining experience can only be made complete with a walk to the ice cream parlor on the main floor after your meal. You can order ice cream and eat it at one of the picnic tables outside or take a walk along the jetty towards the public beach and enjoy the view of the Atlantic.
Additional Notes: The menu includes children’s serving sizes and prices for various meals on the menu.
*Photos from Champlin’s Seafood Restaurant Facebook page