Marblehead Chowder House: Just toppled Kearny, NJ as my husbands favorite fish & chips destination!

Hello! My husband, Tony, asked me if I would mind if he wrote this latest blog entry since he has a unique perspective on the subject of this post.  So I hereby give you Tony’s guest blog:

I grew up in Kearny, NJ… it’s a small to mid-sized town in Hudson County, in the shadow of NYC and its skyline. Kearny has a very long heritage of being the original home of the Congoleum-Nairn Corporation (think Linoleum flooring); it’s founders having come from Scotland in 1887. As the company grew, it drew quite a few Scottish and Irish immigrants to work in its factories.

Immigrants doing what immigrants do, they brought culture from home here to America, and our little slice of it. Traditions like football (soccer for us not of that heritage), drum and pipe (bagpipe) corps, and food. Especially food!

Over the years, it seemed that you couldn’t walk a block down the main drag without tripping into a fish and chips restaurant, or an Irish pub… and the fish and chips restaurants were the best in the world… yes, I said it… they were truly the most authentic and best fish and chips this side of the pond. Places like Argyle and Thistle, as well as some lesser known like Phil’s were at the pinnacle of this meal. What made them so good was the quality of the fish, the batter used to give the meal its unique taste and structure, as well as the chips (fries), which were the best beefsteak fries around!

Over the years, as I grew up and moved out of Kearny to start and raise a family, I’ve never quite encountered a good fish and chip meal such as I had growing up. Either they used the wrong type of fish, or the batter was wrong, or it wasn’t cooked properly and was soggy, rather than crisp… woe is me!

That is, until this past Saturday when Tammy decided out of the clear blue that she had a hankering for fish & chips! Given her desire to check out new places to eat, I decided to do a quick Google search for ‘the best fish and chips in the Lehigh Valley’. (Amazing what will come up!)

It was suggested that we go to the Marblehead Chowder House in Palmer Township, as they were rated #2 in my search, but with equal ratings to the 1, 3 and 4 suggestions. Not wanting to drive all over the place, we decided to give it a try. Although we couldn’t get a table reservation until later that night, we elected to sit at the bar counter, which is first come/first served.

Once seated, the bartender team came to take our orders very promptly, despite being very busy with restaurant production drink orders (which was literally non-stop).

While waiting for our dinners to arrive, we both made note of just how busy, and by extension how popular Marblehead is… there were literally NO available seats throughout the time we were there, so if you are looking to visit, we strongly urge you to make reservations.

When our food arrived, it was served in a basket (like many other establishments do with fish & chips)… 2 pieces of fish, along with a serving of chips. Included with this are nicely sized portions of tartar sauce as well as coleslaw (which I suspect is home-made). Malt Vinegar is readily available as well, if you prefer to add that.


OK… so taking the first bite immediately brought me back to my childhood and the aforementioned Argyle and Thistle restaurants. The fish was delicate and firm, while the batter was perfectly cooked to contain the fish without being soggy or overdone/burnt, I was in heaven!

The fries were not of the beefsteak variety, but they were regular shoestring sized with skins on… and they were perfectly adequate and not disappointing! I did NOT feel the need to add seasoning (salt, pepper, etc), as the meal was perfectly seasoned out of the kitchen.

If you’re a fan of coleslaw, you know that there are sweet varieties, as well as more sour/bitter versions… my preference is for sweet, and again, I was pleasantly surprised by the batch I received.

All in all, I knew we had a winner when Tammy declared that she was stuffed after eating just one of the 2 pieces of fish provided, yet continued to eat most of the second one!

After this very satisfying meal, we decided then and there that we would be back more often for this treat. Since the restaurant opens at 11am seven days a week, I can see us popping over for a quick lunch as well.

As we were paying the bill, we asked the barkeep what was the most popular dish at the restaurant… the immediate response were the crab cakes… and although the fish and chips were #3 or #4 in terms of popularity, they were still very high on the list.

Needless to say, this brings me back to my ‘unique perspective’… having grown up on the absolute ‘best’ fish and chips, I can honestly say that Marblehead Chowder House may simply be a legitimate slice of Kearny (West)!

Thanks for reading and letting Tony share! #thehungryrealtor#fish&chips#iruntoeat#myhusbandlikestotalk

P.S. – Kearny is also known for it world class football (soccer) program, having produced the likes of Olympic and World Champions Tony Meola and John Harkes (I went to school with Tony’s older cousins), as well as several members of the band My Chemical Romance.

Marblehead Chowder House, 4101 William Penn Hwy, Palmer Twp. 610-258-4301



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