The Original Two Cousins
594 New Loudon Road
Latham, N.Y. 12110
By Stacey Morris
LATHAM – A fish market that bears the spotless elegance of a fine jeweler is about as rare as a marble-sized pearl in an oyster, but The Original Two Cousins is one of the rarified few. Walk through the doors of its Newton Plaza location and you’re immediately dazzled by the sparkling glass display cases, but even more impressive is what’s behind them: ruby red slabs of salmon, thick filets of tuna, mounds of jumbo lump crab meat, and snow-white scallops so massive, the largest are nearly base-ball-sized. You’ll be greeted by Lee or Eric, clad in white coats and ready to serve. If you’re there for fish to prepare at home, there’s no shortage of fruits of the sea, from Red Snapper and Conch, to favorites like Grouper, Lobster, and Scrod. On a recent forage, we came home with Chilean Sea Bass. We pan-fried it with a few spices and it translated into moist, delicious perfection.
There are some seafood entrees, however, which are best left to the professionals. Case in point, Two Cousins’ incomparable Fish & Chips ($7.95) or their crispy-but-soft fried oysters ($13.95) which are the biggest and sweetest fried oysters I’ve ever encountered, both upstate and in the oystering district of the Florida Panhandle. On another visit, we watched in delight as Lee shucked eight oysters (from Willa Point in South Bend, Wash., used specifically for frying) in quick succssion, dredged each in flour, and then flash fried them. Plump and pungent, they’re nothing short of Nirvana on a paper plate. The menu at the Original Two Cousins is thankfully not extensive. They wisely choose not to stray from the genre that makes them renowned: ultra-fresh seafood simply prepared. There’s a tastefully designed dining area with orders placed at the counter. You won’t find yourself missing a wait staff, though. You’ll be too caught up in selections only a bonafide fish market could pull off, like the Grilled Scallop Roll, Crab Cake-Salmon-and Shrimp Sliders, and Ipswich Whole Belly Clam Boats. The goods, which are delivered fresh daily from Boston, also include seafood dinners like Grilled Salmon ($12.95), clam strips ($9.95), and a tuna melt made with seared medium rare tuna, avocado, tomato, Swiss cheese, and wasabi aoili ($7.95). Two Cousins also has an array of salads like Smoked Salmon Salad, Whitefish, Calamari, Lobster, Crawfish, and old-fashioned potato and macaroni salads.
It’s not surprising that The Original Two Cousins still dazzles customers after all these years. For decades, Two Cousins has been a Capital region staple when Ralph DeSantis opened the market in downtown Albany. When he retired, his daughter Florence and her husband, Lee Yattaw moved the restaurant and market to Latham in 2008 and added “The Original” in the title as a tribute to Ralph.
If you’re not a major seafood fan, the restaurant offers a few land-lubbing selections like Chicken Tenders, Caesar’s Salad, Sirloin Burger, and a Cuban Pork Sandwich. Call me crazy, but I’ve never taken Lee and Eric up on any of the latter…must have something to do with the sensory memory of their glistening fried oysters, velvety New England Clam Chowder, and the irresistable lobster rolls. Beef will just have to wait another day.