CJ Haddad is as fresh as the lobster he serves.
“I’ve been cooking since I was about 13 or 14. I went Cheffin’ It Raw University, and it was my family’s kitchen. You get thrown in the mix and you just learn.”
And since 1937, the entire Haddad family has been serving everything from seafood, to pizza, Italian to ‘cake BY the ocean’ at Haddad’s Ocean Cafe.
Located in the Brant Rock section of Marshfield, Haddad’s is a multi-generational institution in business for over 80 years. What started as a small family run spot has grown to this palatial space complete with an active bar with live music, a family friendly dining room and a fun deck that makes you feel like you’re on vacation- no matter what time of year it is.
“We’re in God’s country in Brant Rock Massachusetts. Just look around, you’re surrounded by the ocean. You’ve got the beautiful harbor that way, you got the Atlantic out this way. I mean, I grew up here so I’m kinda biased, but I mean I love it down here, man. Just laid back. We’re not like a ritzy, stuffy bar. I mean, it’s a fishing bar. This is a fishing town. So it’s laid back, and it’s filled with hard-working good people. We’ve had some people coming here before I was even born, you know. They have a lot of fun. Sometimes too much, but we have a good time here.”
You’ll always find CJ and his family back in the kitchen making sure every single dish that goes out is perfect.
“Send that down buddy. Leo start 36. I’ve literally held every job in this restaurant at least, and I’ve always liked cooking, so I’ve been cooking since I was about 13 or 14. I’ve always loved this business. I mean, I like to cook, too. I love being a chef, I love cooking. I mean, like I said, I think it’s an art. It’s an art with food.”
And this culinary artist’s dishes belong in the Louvre.
There’s crispy haddock tacos topped with a sweet and spicy mango salsa.
And flash fried calamari served with cocktail sauce Haddad’s has been making since they opened.
Bar style pizzas come topped with everything including this one which is a spin on scallops and bacon.
But everyone can’t get enough of the garlic shrimp appetizer.
“We try and make the plate look like a starfish with the garlic bread, so you get a big loaf of garlic bread You get a little bit of lemon, you get the garlic, obviously the shrimp and if you dip in that bread in afterwards, you get all those flavors that you’re sauteeing go into the bread. I love it man. It’s awesome.”
Since CJ is buddies with lots of the local fisherman, lobster is a must- all boiled up in this massive cauldron.
“The lobsters literally come right from the boat.”
So you can get lobster rolls tossed with mayo and celery and served cold or hot with drawn butter.
“All this is is the toasted bun, and it’s just lobster meat and if you wanna add butter to it, we put it on the side. If you don’t, you just get the sweetness of the lobster with the grilled bread. And people love that.”
If you want something different, order your lobster fried and if you want something massive, get yourself the Baked Stuffed Lobster
“Oh, it’s a huge meal. You get everything you want. It’s is it’s crab meat, it’s Ritz crackers, it’s Italian bread crumbs, a little bit of wine, some celery. And then we stuff it with just a pile of lobster meat, inside the belly, all the way to the tail it goes up. Plus you put butter on top, so there you go.”
Other seafood specialties include grilled swordfish, prepared to your liking with a lemon pepper cajun seasoning and a fried seafood platter that could feed the whole boat.
“It is a monstrous plate from the ocean, basically. You get a pile of haddock, a pile of fried scallops, a pile of fried clams, a lobster tail and two shrimp. It’s a big meal. If you like seafood and you’re down here, and you like fried food, it’s been a staple here since forever.”
If big portions are your thing but seafood isn’t, there are large plates of tender sirloin kebabs served over a bed of rice with onions peppers and mushrooms. And a plate tipping presentation of chicken parm.
“If you can finish it, I’ll give you a tee-shirt, basically. It’s huge. So it’s just a deep fried piece of chicken, and then a pile ..angel hair, whatever you like, with house-made marinara sauce, meat sauce, and then just a bunch of mozzarella cheese on top. We melt it under a cheese melter and it just browns up nice.
“I have people tell me it’s like being in the North End, but they’re down in Brant Rock, so it’s pretty cool.
And if you can fit dessert, they’re are huge hunks of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, and this Reese’s inspired sweet layered with chocolate, peanut butter and crumbled up peanut butter cups.
“If you’re on a diet, don’t get it. It’s a good cake.”
And not only does CJ think the cake’s good, for him- life is pretty great too.
“Other than the cooking, you get to meet so many good people, and it’s like I see all my buddies come in and stuff like that. And it’s fun. It’s a good time. It’s not really work if you like doing it. So hopefully it never gets old.”
Haddad’s Ocean Cafe
291 Ocean Street
Marshfield, MA 02050