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“Good people, good food, relaxed atomsphere”

Fishmonger's Seafood Market Crab & Oyster House
Price range: $0 - $30
Cuisines: American, Seafood
Good for: Large groups, Romantic, Bar scene, Families with children
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups, Romantic, Bar scene, Families with children
Durham, North Carolina
Level Contributor
32 reviews
25 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Good people, good food, relaxed atomsphere”
Reviewed June 20, 2013

If you like the kind of place that has good food and lets people throw peanut shells on the floor, then keep reading. If you have a stick up your patooty, go elsewhere.

I just had a great lunch for $23. Two orders of steamed muscles and a side of fried green tomatoes. Simple but delicious. The muscles are served in their shells which have popped open from the steaming. They are served in a huge mound and have been kissed with the right amount of butter and garlic. All I needed was a dash of heat from Texas Pete and I was a happy customer.

A side of fried green tomatoes appeared moments after the muscles and they were equally as good. The unexpected but pleasant surprise was the side of ranch dressing that had blue cheese crumbles and cilantro...maybe a bit of dill...in the mix. It gave it a fresh and perky taste I appreciated.

The walls are adorned with various signs and knickknacks that every Friday's and Chili's attempts (and fails) to recreate. Also, your seating is a mix of regular tables and picnic tables with large sheets of brown paper for you to pile up those shells. The next time I'm out riding my motorcycle, this will be a place to come...have a decent brand of cold beer and a choice of muscles, oysters, BBQ or filet of fish.

The greeter, server, chef and another bloke having a smoke out back all greeted me in a genuine greeting...not in the dour, obligatory, downtrodden way. Maybe because I am in my mid-40's, divorced and 6'5, not too many people talk to me, so I may be overemphasizing how nice everyone was as they were winding down from the lunch time push.

This is not a Michelin rated dining establishment nor does it try to be. Do not mistake "worn" with "dirty". This place was not dirty. In fact, I remember a Health rating of 96/100 on the wall...an A rating. But the paint is chipped, the furniture doesn't all match, the signs on the wall have a petina of rust here and there. It's what I like to call CHARACTER.

Here's why I am writing this the same day I was there... I had left my phone on the table. An employee ran out the door, through the adjacent parking lot and flagged me down to return my phone. How many places can fill your belly and restore your belief that, by and large, people are good? I recommend and with be making this one of my "regular" places. See you on ThursdaayMention my review and I'll buy you a beer.

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank 277JohnM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

88 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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    38
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Greenville, South Carolina
Level Contributor
75 reviews
36 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Great Fried Seafood”
Reviewed June 20, 2013

This is just the kind of place I love for fried seafood... Picnic tables, relaxed, well-decorated... nothing fancy. The seafood was very fresh and fried to order. Chase, the manager, was also our server. He cares very much about his customers! They had a lot more on the menu than fried food. I'd go back!

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
Thank duranfreak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durham, NC
Level Contributor
32 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Fishmonger's Surviving on Reputation, Not Food”
Reviewed June 2, 2013

I know that Fishmonger's is an institution in Durham and my most recent visit, two Thursdays ago, was only my second. The prior visit was also disappointing but I wanted to give this restaurant a second chance.

The first bad sign is that nobody came to greet me when I arrived in the restaurant. There were staff about but they didn't even acknowledge me. I almost had to seat myself. I came to eat dinner alone before meeting my spouse to see a movie.

I should mention that when I arrived, I was the only diner in the restaurant but it took a few minutes to present me with a menu, which I should add, is quite extensive. A friend is a big fan of the fish and chips so that's what I ordered.

At the table, covered in a red and white vinyl tablecloth, is a basket of single serving crackers. I guess that's what Fishmonger's wants diners to fill up on while they wait for their food. By the time my food arrives, there's a group of eight at a table and a couple of other tables are occupied by couples.

Bearing in mind this is a seafood restaurant, I expect the execution of cooking the seafood to be good but I'm astonished to be presented with three overfried, large fish sticks. There was under the brown casing small, whole pieces of fish. Whomever did the frying must have left them in the fryer way too long. They didn't look good but I was hungry and in a hurry so I slowly ate the fish. The fries were from arranged on the plate in no presentable manner and there was a tiny cup of coleslaw. When I say tiny, I mean the cup was small and contained maybe two tablespoons of slaw.

Something about the fish had an odd flavor. In fact, it must have been the oil or the batter on the fish. It tasted vaguely meaty, like sausage and that was very strange as I was eating seafood. I an only imagine that the oil had previously been used to fry some kind of meat. The oil wasn't bad.

While I was eating, nobody came to check on how I was enjoying my meal which says a lot about the service here in my opinion.

The cost of the experience of my meal at Fishmonger's on this occasion, including tip, was $14.00. I consider it very bad value as I left hungry and went to Parker and Otis across the street to get more food to eat!

Needless to say, I see no need to return here again.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank NC_Expat_Traveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gary B, Owner at Fishmonger's Seafood Market Crab & Oyster House, responded to this review, June 4, 2013
Sorry for your perceived experience.First of all we are the next thing above self service. Picnic tables and butcher paper with blue and white table covers. Next to get things going you almost tripped over a stand with menus and a sign that says please take a menu and have a seat. If you have not done this then the waits think that one of them has already taken your order and menu. Secondly your friend recommended the Fish and chips because she likes it. It is a traditional beer batter and you probably tasted the beer, eggs and sweet cod.We have used the same batter and fish for years so yes we live on our reputation and people from Europe who know their fish and chips tell their friends back home if they are ever in the States to eat it here.By the way saltines are on the tables because you never know how many people want them for their seamed oysters, clams, clam chowder and or cocktail sauce which is so good a lot of people want it on their crackers.
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Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Level Contributor
187 reviews
123 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
“Yuck! Dirty restaurant and frozen fish.”
Reviewed May 28, 2013

Should have left as soon as we walked in, but thought we would give Fishmonger's a fair try. My husband ordered a combo platter, fried shrimp, fish and crab cake. He could not even eat the crab cake, it was so greasy. I ordered grilled grouper, lima beans and broccoli. My fish seemed to be something like swordfish. It was a generic fish steak, clearly from the frozen food case. I got rice instead of lima beans, and the broccoli had many yellowed areas that were inedible. I would never recommend this place or go back. Our server was super nice though!

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Mary L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gary B, Owner at Fishmonger's Seafood Market Crab & Oyster House, responded to this review, May 31, 2013
Sorry for your experience.We have used the same recipe for our crab cakes since we opened, it came from a famous old Baltimore crab house. We use an expeller pressed oil from North Carolina that is processed like olive oil. It also contains vitamin E and other good omega oils witch are removed from other oils for supplements.It cost a lot more but I pay the price to keep me and my customers healthy.I stick to the facts and wish that the reviewer had there has never been a piece of generic frozen fish in this restaurant and definitely nothing frozen this time of year when their is plenty of fresh fish available.
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SE PA
Level Contributor
170 reviews
94 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
“Disappointed”
Reviewed May 24, 2013

Got excited to see the handwritten note in the window that soft shelled crabs were on, but my husband, who loves them, was disappointed. Menu listed one price and daily special board another - waiter used the menu price which was higher and insisted the board was wrong and would eventually be changed. Our tip reflected this error. There was nothing special about anything we ordered. Have been there twice now on visits to Duke and will probably not go back.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
Thank netherholt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gary B, Owner at Fishmonger's Seafood Market Crab & Oyster House, responded to this review, May 26, 2013
Because we go to the trouble of having the best product when available, we use fresh soft shells when we can get them. They are always more expensive so we reflect that on the board. We still have frozen ones all the time because they are requested all the time and that price is reflected on the menu. If we were a chain and had the same frozen ones the price would stay the same. I f we where an expensive white table cloth restaurant instead of butcher paper and picnic tables; the menus would change as things came available.We entertained some folks from UK and New Zealand yesterday who tried them for the first time and were ecstatic.They were tickled to have them because they are not available in there homelands.
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