The Seafood Chowder at Peter Devine’s Irish Pub in Ottawa was a bit light on the seafood, and a bit heavy on the dill, but still pretty good.
Seafood Chowder is one of my favorite soup dishes. It can be made quite lightly, and served as a pleasant appetizer or simple lunch, or it can be a very rich and hearty production capable of being a filling meal all by itself. The version served at Peter Devine’s Irish Pub, and shown above, fell as a reasonably happy medium somewhere between the two.
Generally, a Chowder is a seafood soup in which the broth is thickened with a starch, and enhanced and enriched with cream. The justly famous New England Clam Chowder is probably the most popular example of the form, and many restaurant versions of Seafood Chowder are essentially the same thing, except with other shellfish, and one or two varieties of fish being included as well.
Some Seafood Chowders simply cook the seafood in question in milk, then lightly thicken the broth this creates, but without adding any cream at all. At Peter Devine’s the Seafood Chowder was made without either milk or Cream, and was instead based on a fish stock enriched with a purée of potato and leek. This actually makes for a very nice soup base, pairs well with most seafood, and is a technique I have used myself.
There were just a couple of quibbles I had with the Seafood Chowder at Peter Devine’s. First, the chef used Dill in making his soup base, which most people find pairs well with fish, and Salmon, in particular. Personally, I don’t car for this very much in any event, but it seemed to me that the use was just a bit heavy handed in this case.
As for the other issue, the menu described the Chowder as containing sea scallops, shrimp, Atlantic salmon, haddock, bacon and Yukon gold potatoes. Unfortunately, what was served was a little bit light on some of the promised ingredients. There were two small pieces of salmon, and only one shrimp identifiable. I liked the Chowder on the whole, but the paucity of actual seafood was a bit disappointing.