Fried Cod Sandwich from The Black Whale in New Bedford

Buying Seafood

I had the opportunity to visit New Bedford, Massachusetts recently to give a talk at the New Bedford Fishing Historic Center. Of course, I couldn’t leave the “Whaling City” without sampling some local seafood. So this year’s Fried Seafood Showdown features a fried cod sandwich from The Black Whale, right on the waterfront at Pier 3.

I was ready to try New Bedford’s version of a fried haddock sandwich, but when I started looking at menus it was almost always cod. You can find a fried haddock sandwich on Cape Ann, but more often than not it will be haddock. Our fishermen have much larger quotas of haddock than cod, and all of us who grew up in fishing families in Gloucester ate a lot more haddock. But fishing dynamics can change in a 2-hour drive south, and New Bedford, America’s most valuable fishing port, has a large fleet of groundfish and scallop trawlers fishing nearby Georges Bank.

New Bedford Fishing BoatsNew Bedford Fishing Boats

Cod may be similar to haddock, but they are not identical. They are both delicate, white, flaky fish, but cod has larger flakes. Cod also has a more intense flavor that pairs very well with other ingredients, such as roast potatoes. I have to admit that I have learned to appreciate cod a lot more now that I have experience cooking it.

About The Black Whale

the black whale logothe black whale logo

The Black Whale was created by Steve Silverstein, a New Bedford resident whose family has operated a well-known family store for nearly a century. After working in the New Bedford fishing industry as a scallop fisherman, he created The Black Whale to honor the harbor's heritage and showcase its seafood.

The restaurant is located right on Pier 3 in the New Bedford Harbor, just steps from the fishing boats that bring in dinner. When I visited we were experiencing a heat wave and it was just oppressive under the sun. The outdoor dining area was crowded because there was a breeze coming off the water and the wait times were quite long. I opted for the bar area, which didn't have a view, but was air conditioned.

When I sat down, I was served a complimentary plate of crackers and a really nice smoked salmon spread. On a hot day, it was a light treat and much better than bread.

The Fried Cod Sandwich – Pier 3 Style

Their fried cod sandwich was $20, in line with other restaurants along the New Bedford waterfront, and about the average price I've seen for summer 2024. Black Whale offers two fried cod sandwich options: the more traditional Pier 3, with lettuce and tartar sauce, and the Whaler with bacon, tomato, avocado, and lemon aioli. I chose the Pier 3 because it's more in line with other fish sandwiches I've tried. Another fun option is that you can choose a beer batter fried cod sandwich, but I stuck to the standard New England style.

fried cod sandwich black whalefried cod sandwich black whale

My Pier 3 style fried cod sandwich was exactly what I was hoping for. Nice crispy breading on a nice piece of fresh cod. Not greasy and fried to perfection. I hate it when you get a fried fish sandwich that has been fried to death, or not fried enough. The toasted seeded bun had plenty of spicy tartar, but I asked for more to dip the fish's protruding ends.

This was a very good fried fish sandwich and would make a perfect light lunch or dinner while exploring New Bedford's historic waterfront. I will definitely be returning to The Black Whale on future visits to try some of their other specialties or perhaps their impressive looking sushi.

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