Good service and freshness catch customers

Stevie Edwards with fresh salmon

America is home to many of the world’s top seafood markets such as Pike Place Market in Seattle, Browne Trading Company in Maine, Empire Fish in Milwaukee, Lexington Market in Baltimore and Sun Fat Seafood Co. in San Francisco. These markets have several things in common, including fresh product and customer service.

The same can be said of Seafood Lover at 4389 Calder Ave. in Beaumont, though it isn’t located anywhere near water. For the last 39 years, it’s been the home to the freshest seafood and impeccable customer service. Just the way owner Stevie Edwards wants it.

“It’s all about fresh product and good customer service,” said Edwards. “Give the customer what they want.”

But why would Edwards want to run a seafood market in Beaumont?

The idea started some four decades ago for the native of Winnie. Edwards said there really wasn’t a good place to buy seafood on that side of town, so he decided to cast the net. Before the concrete was being poured for the foundation of the Westbrook Shopping Center, he signed the lease and has been providing fresh seafood to Southeast Texans ever since. Many folks travel hours to Beaumont to shop Seafood Lover.

“It’s just the best around,” said Amy Proctor, who resides in The Woodlands. “My husband and I used to live here in Beaumont and now we drive here to buy the shrimp. There’s just nothing as good as the Seafood Lover.”

A seafood market can be intimidating, especially for rookie chefs. But Edwards and his staff make it a painless and even educational.

“Big box stores typically don’t do a very good job with seafood,” said Edwards. “Seafood gets mixed in with the meat department. Most of everything the grocery stores will sell is frozen, plus there isn’t much consumer education. If you have never cooked fish before and are afraid to cook it, that bad experience will turn you off from seafood. If you teach them how to do it right, you have a seafood fan for life.”

For those rookies in the kitchen, Edwards suggest something simple and easy like red snapper, flounder, catfish, trout and halibut. “If you find a recipe you like, it doesn’t matter what fish it is,” he said

While most of the seafood available for purchase comes from local waters, cold water species such as salmon, scallops and halibut are flown in from the likes of Maine, Oregon and Washington.

Top sellers at Seafood Lover are shrimp and crab. Shrimp come in different sizes such as gumbo-size, medium, large, jumbo and colossal, and are priced from $6.50-$18 a pound.

Seafood Lover also has a wide variety of ingredients to help you prepare your fish of choice including sauces, rubs and other condiments that will dress your meal up to perfection.

Southeast Texas has no shortage of crawfish fans, but Edwards says that season is about over. “We normally make crawfish season through the Fourth of July, but I don’t know if we will make it that far this year due to the heat,” he said.

For those not wanting to cook, Seafood Lover has a deli menu prepped by Edwards’ brother Chris, who makes everything in house, with delicious options ready to eat such as Crabmeat Augratin ($16.50), Crab Enchiladas and Crawfish Enchiladas ($14), which is made with a white sauce and serves up to three people, Crawfish Tetrazzini with a spicy cream sauce ($18), Snapper Parmesan, and Stuffed Flounder fillets.

We opted for the Seafood Lasagna ($25) that was loaded with shrimp and crab. The dish was filled with an abundance of flavor and is even perfect for entertaining guests.

For appetizers, we partook in a small Crab Quiche ($2.25) and Crawfish Quiche ($2.25), which are also available in larger sizes, Crab Dip, and the best Seafood Salad that has ever touched our lips. 

Recommended for the upcoming hot months are the seafood salad, dips, boiled shrimp, and ceviche (shrimp, scallop or fish).

And it’s never too warm for Seafood Lover’s gumbo, which is another popular choice among customers.

A new product that Seafood Lover carries is alligator sausage from the Alligator Sausage Co. in Winnie. Two flavors are available — Original Smoked, and Jalapeño and Cheddar. 

“It has a good looking package and if it looks good, it sells,” said Edwards. “I’ve had it for about a week and have already had to order another case.”

What’s most impressive about Seafood Lover is the rapport that Edwards has with his customers. When he sees their vehicles drive up, he knows what they want and has it ready for them when they walk in the door. In return, the customers give him their loyalty, as well as fresh vegetables from their own gardens as a token of appreciation.

Make Seafood Lover a part of your eating routine. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when purchasing seafood. If your favorite fish isn’t available, ask Edwards what he recommends as a substitute. Your taste buds won’t be sorry.

Seafood Lover is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.