Great seafood, and miles from the beach

May 16. 2017 11:11PM

This fried combo from Makris Lobster & Steak House ranks high on Our Gourmet's all-time list. 

The Montreal steak tips at Makris Lobster & Steak House in Concord. 

Looks can be deceiving, as was the case with these delicious Maine crab cakes from Makris Lobster & Steak House in Concord. 

As a child of the Seacoast, I’m one of those people who tends to think the best seafood is served within sniffing distance of the ocean.

And, as Mrs. Gourmet will tell you, I am occasionally wrong.

I found myself on the wrong end of that seafood assumption a few weeks ago when Mrs. G and I visited Makris Lobster & Steak House, a roadhouse that’s been an institution on Route 106 since the 1990s.

The restaurant is a long, rambling building, with the bar entrance on one end and the dining room entrance on the other. NASCAR memorabilia dominates in the lobby (New Hampshire Motor Speedway is just a few minutes up the road), giving way to seashore kitsch in the bright, open and rather plain dining room.

When we arrived around 7 p.m. on a recent Saturday, the place was busy, but the early dinner crowd was finishing up and we were seated after a wait of about 15 minutes. We got a booth near the front windows, and were immediately struck by the noise level in the room. Come to find out, one party was responsible for most of the excess decibels, and when those folks left, the volume quickly assumed normal conversational levels.

Makris’ menu is big, but size is a bit misleading, as it includes everything from appetizers and soups to subs, burgers and salads. The entrees take up only a third of the page, and true to the restaurant’s name, the emphasis is on seafood and steaks — happily, two of our favorite food groups.

We both started with seafood appetizers. Mrs. G chose the oyster stew and I picked the crab cakes (both $9.99). Both were enough to convince us that this place knows how to handle seafood.

When they appeared at the table, though, the crab cakes gave us pause. Two cakes, each about the size of a quarter-pound hamburger, were grayish brown and looked fairly dry, reminding us of some filler-heavy cakes we had elsewhere last year.

But thankfully, looks were deceiving — these crab cakes were very good. Topped with a slightly spicy “supreme sauce” and heavy with Maine crabmeat, the texture was fine, not lumpy like Maryland-style cakes, and they were moist and full of wonderful crab flavor.

Equally impressive was Mrs. G’s oyster stew. Some oyster stews feature a thin, almost transparent broth, but this version was closer to a chowder. A creamy, smooth base held a generous supply of whole oysters in a simple, rich bowl of delicate oyster flavor. This stew is worth a return trip on its own.

I detoured off the seafood track with my entree. Since Makris calls itself a lobster and steak house, I decided to check out the Montreal Steak Tips ($15.99). A 10-ounce serving was nicely grilled medium-rare as requested, spicy with that peppery Montreal-style seasoning, and served au jus in a boat-style dish. Entrees come with two sides; I ordered a green salad and baked potato; both were good.

Mrs. G stayed with seafood, ordering a fried combo of whole clams and fantail shrimp ($21.99) — perhaps the best plate of fried seafood either of us has ever eaten. The clams and shrimp were cooked to utter perfection, just long enough to be cooked through, with the light batter coating ever so slightly crisp.

Delicate and delicious, this dish was enough to make us think twice about heading to the beach for fried seafood. And the onion rings, which Mrs. G subbed for french fries for an extra $1.99, were pretty much perfect as well.

We skipped dessert (actually, we never saw the dessert menu — our only service miss of the evening), but by the time we had finished our entrees, we didn’t need to sample anything else to know that Makris is a spot that we will definitely recommend to our seafood-loving friends — even in peak beach season.
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