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Holly Moore

NE Fried Clams: Shacks & Restaurants

117 posts in this topic

A bit more about "Free Range", It is actually more of a seafood retail store, and has a nice take-out on the side which, I'm sure, will be busy this summer. Actually that is now a question as the "Scotia Prince", the 100+foot car ferry that ran twice daily to Yarmouth Nova Scotia from a slip behind Free Range (under the bridge to SoPo), has pulled out of Portland in a huff. It seems the ferry terminal, which is maintained by the city, failed a mold test and the ferry company refused to book any routes for this summer. The city put several thousand $Ks into the terminal and disputes the claim. It has hit the town hard as the sight of the mini-cruise ship leaving or entering the harbour, especially at night, gives the town a charm most beloved for three decades. The trip also brought many tourists, who see "Free Range" before anything else on the way into the Old Port.

Before this place was Free Range Fish and Lobster, it used to be "Tiny's Bigman Seafood". Tiny, as you may guess, was not a small person. I used to sell my sea-urchins to a guy upstairs who rented an office from Tiny, and after a while the place seemed like a frat for waterfront types of all stripes. When the urchin biz cooled off, Tiny bought a display cooler, painted a sign and sold some mighty nice looking fish. He then put in a couple fryers and opened Tiny's Take-out. I had the BEST fried clams at Tiny's about seven years ago. They were a revelation. I had hoped Free Range would get close, but not really. I'll go again, even if they didn't have lemon (which I feel, CSASphinx, counteracts the oil in fried foods, so I use it often).

I will definitely check out Susan's as well as a couple other hole in the walls around here. We might uncover a diamond in the rough. I get so disappointed sometimes after dumping ten bucks on a gnarled tangle of battered stuff, that I make fried clams at home when I can. I make my own tartar sauce too and even tweak it with Mae Ploy hot chili sauce or some ancho sauce. Yum... damn, I'm getting hungry! :raz::huh:


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Since my wife is from Ipswich and the family is still there, I've had many the chance the past 15 years to dine on clams throughout the North Shore. The best we've had as others have mentioned, was at the Clam Box. Bar far the best plate we ever had was one afternoon about 2:30ish right after they had just changed/cleaned the oil in the fryers. Absolutely the best tasting clam plate I have ever had wasthat day, we haven't been able to time it right since. Altough I will try again in July all in the name of research.

I to grew up on the HoJo style fried clam. Fortunately for me, we lived right near a clam bake grove, so right from a young age I learned to apprecaite them raw and of course properly steamed with melted butter.

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Today's Boston Globe has an article on the local fried clam scene in light of the red tide outbreak. Just as I was gearing up for a road trip to Ipswich and Essex to sample the offerings...it seems unlikely to improve any time soon.



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johnnyd---thank you for the info on the Clam fest!! seems maine does love her fests :)

Have you been to the lobster shack? I went yesterday for the first time and the fried clams were good.. if not a bit skimpy for the $10.95.. Becky's diner has some nice ones.. but I'm waiting for the season to fully get swinging before I try some more..


Deadheads are kinda like people who like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but people who like licorice, *really* like licorice!

-Jerry Garcia

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Have you been to the lobster shack?

Funny you should ask! Inspired by Daniel's Whirlwind Trip in search of New England's Best Fried Seafood, I and my betrothed headed out to Two Lights on Memorial Day to see what was going on. Considering the horrific string of cold, rainy days we've had recently, yesterday was fabulous...

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There was a line out the door as usual, about a fifteen minute wait, but we ran into a couple chums and chatted while we waited. it was nice to be outside again anyway. The crew was busy at the order station...

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We took in the knick-knacks hanging from any and everywhere inside the restaurant while we waited for our order,

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...and got our self-serve tarter and catsup cups ready for the meal. Mrs JohnnyD had a medium-size fried clam plate w/onion rings and I had a lobster roll "boat" which means the addition of an order of fries and a 2oz tublet of coleslaw w/pickle.

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We sat outside of course and feasted! The clams were whole bellies and lightly battered, as were the onion rings so flavors popped in our mouths instead of getting buried in goop or grease. The coleslaw was spectacular: clean, crisp and not too sweet. Tartar was below par, probably out of a 100gal drum.

It's clear the folks here have perfected their style explaining why it is mobbed all summer. I don't remember exactly how much "market price" was y'day but we paid about $35 for our lunch w/2 sodas. Everyone is saying that once the clams from the last red-tide-free harvest runs out, it'll be time to push haddock. :hmmm::huh:

The Lobster Shack at Two Lights: grade A


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Lo and Behold: the Ipswich Fish Market will ship a quart or more to your door.  This is probably an excellent option but not cheap.  They also have a "Clam Fry Kit" which could be good.  If anyone springs for this, your report could help out those who are out of the fresh clam loop. (mizducky?)

Johnnyd, thanks for the help. Sorry to be so long replying (I lost track of the thread). Anyway, I'm having a serious debate with myself about whether I'm willing to pay $90 for a quart of shucked clams :wacko:. I'm going to check Wegman's and try to figure out what theirs would cost in that quantity. Maybe I can practice on theirs, and then hit Ipswich when we're having a party. Thanks again.


"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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Johnnyd... we were there on Sunday... the view is the best in the area--very active and awe inspiring. But, the inside seating, on rainy days, seems to be more than a wee bit cramped.. thanks for the pics!


Deadheads are kinda like people who like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but people who like licorice, *really* like licorice!

-Jerry Garcia

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Great photos Johnny..

Whats a clam burger? A clam cake on a hamburger bun? The price certainly looks right.,.

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Yes, the price does look about right for a clam or seafood stuffing style patty on a hamburger roll. I presume the fishburger are fitted filets (4-5oz?) on the same bun. Not too big i'd imagine.


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Herewith, the results of four days in Clam Country, coinciding, unfortunately, with a Red Tide infestation—after I had scheduled this visit early in the season to avoid crowds and the concomitant supplementation of the Cape Ann crop with non-native clams to accommodate demand.

All the shacks are self-service, with both indoor and outdoor seating. Bill's Seafood is table-service only; Flo's is both table- and self-service.

BILL’S SEAFOOD (Westbrook, CT). Big, soft, gooey, tasteless clams, competently prepared. Lobster roll in the Lenny & Joe’s style, even slightly better, but no match for Red’s (too tough and too many shreds). Outdoor waterside view accompanied by the thrum of car tires on metal bridgework. Cash only.

FARNHAM’S (Essex, MA). My old sentimental favorite. Clams of the usual local size but not locally sourced, fried to their usual standard. As with Essex Seafood (see below) only the odd few had that lovely sweet, almost gamy, taste characteristic of the best of breed. Picnic tables between the road and the salt marsh; cheerful indoor seating. Cash only.

ESSEX SEAFOOD (Essex, MA). Also Maine clams, slightly crisper than Farnham’s, with a bit more greasy residue. Some too large and excessively chewy. Picnic tables out back facing the trees.

CLAM BOX (Ipswich, MA). Clearly the best sampled—as is true perhaps 75% of the time—if not quite so good as on previous visits. Of unspecified origin, but the only clams that might have passed as local. Uncharacteristically slightly underdone, and mine served slightly cold (my bad for not exchanging them). Picnic tables overlooking the parking lot. Cash only.

WOODMAN’S (Essex, MA). Skipped this time, after too many past disappointments.

LOBSTER POOL (Rockport, MA). No clams ordered, though on the menu. An OK lobster salad roll and an OK steamed lobster in a pretty seaside setting.

It may be more than coincidental that the Clam Box was the only one of the Cape Ann joints that was seriously crowded. Farnham’s and Essex, however, provided the sweetest service.

EVELYN’S (Tiverton, RI). Rhode Island, like Connecticut, does not produce fried clams as good as those in Massachussetts. Besides that, these were too soft. Cash only.

FLO'S (Middletown, RI). A huge portion of clams, excessively breaded, with the sort of brittleness—not crispness—that bespeaks fattiness, though no residue was to be found on the plate. Unusual and nice underpinning of what New Yorkers would call mesclun. Cash only.

SCALES AND SHELLS (Newport, RI). Tender littlenecks cooked in white wine with LOTS of garlic; sweet sea bass with the edge of a wood-grill char. A full-service, in-town restaurant. Cash only.

A few bits of clamporn for the easily aroused:

Essex-Seafood-clams.jpg

Clam-Box-clams-1.jpg

Clam-Box-clams-2.jpg

Flos-clams.jpg


"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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Nice Pics, ahr! You put my quick shots while nobody is looking to shame. I hope to get to know the camera (Deb's, and she insists on keeping it at her place for some stupid reason) better. With the red tide like it is, all those places are struggling to get the best quality frying clams they can, with mixed results I'm sure, and can't really be blamed for occaisional lapses in quality. Now isn't the best time for fried clams in this area.

Cheers,

HC

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Clam flats from Scarborough to Freeport are open for harvest as of Monday.

The Yarmouth Clam Festival starts today and runs all weekend. It's a hoot and the fried clams will be tasty. There is also Lobster, corn, steamers and a couple of more typical festival food booths.

If you are in the area, check it out. Pan Fried Steel Band on at three; Maine's hottest bluegrass band the "Jerks of Grass" play at eight.


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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After a lovely boat tour of the nearby Thimble Islands (near Branford and highly recommended for a serene 1 1/2 tour on the ocean) we went for fried seafood! With the recent prompting of this thread (and the subsequent unrequited cravings from my abode on the West coast) I was eminently primed to have some fried clam bellies.

Place:

Lenny & Joe's Fishtale

86 Boston Post Rd., Westbrook, CT Phone: 860-669-0767

right near entrance of Hammonasset Beach State Park

Clams:

Battered. Bellies, good tartar sauce. Dinner plate w/fries and coleslaw: Can't recall exact price but I think it was between $13-15. Healthy portions of all. Lemon wedges available upon request as is additional tartar sauce.

Other items on menu: My Dad had fried clam strips (he's not a belly fan) and my mom had a fried scallop roll that she said was excellent. I tried one of her scallops and agree. Lobster rolls were on the menu as well. Lemonade was also on offer and I had it with my meal. Fries were quite good--crispy, not too thick, unridged and with good flavor. Also, malt vinegar was available for the fries; a nice plus in my book!

Service/Atmosphere:

Large place with rather a generic feel, but clean and with a lot of nice outdoor seating underneath permanent wooden "tent-like" structures. We ate inside but outside would be nice on the right day. One orders at the counter for pick-up.

Other Comments:

It was my first time at this place and initially I was disappointed by the huge size of the joint--not exactly a little quaint clamshack on a hidden New England byroad. Nevertheless, although I can not review them with an afficionado's eye to detail because I eat them very seldomly, I was very happy with my clams . The clam bellies were nice and juicy and the batter crisp with not a hint of oiliness or 'bad' oil taste. Reading other's descriptions of the different types of batter, I think this would fall into the category of medium thickness, breadcrumby type batter--(as opposed to a more minimalist flour-only style).

While the place was hopping with customers of all ages, service at the counter was brisk and efficient. One thing to potentially beware of is hitting the restaurant coincident with the mass exodus of beachgoers leaving nearby Hammonasset Beach.

I last had some fried bellies at Jasper's Summer Shack at Mohegan Sun a year ago and while my memory may give an edge to Jasper's clams and breading, I was very happy with my experience at Lenny & Joe's Fishtale and would go there again.

I should scan the previous postings more closely, but does anyone have a place near Westbrook, CT that they prefer? Thanks!


Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Here are a couple of Cape reviews for fried clams:

PJ's in Wellfleet (Route 6)

A bit disappointing. Price was okay at $11.95, but there were a lot strips in my supposedly whole bellied clams. They were battered rather than breaded (a plus for me), but the batter was a little bland. I also had to ask for lemon. Their fried oysters are better (very good actually).

Mac's Harbor Grill in Wellfleet (on the town pier)

Awesome! Almost as good as the Thirsty Whale in Bar Harbor (anyone following this thread knows that from me, this is the highest compliment). Huge plate of juicy whole clams for $11.95 served with lots of lemon! Also battered, great crispy, perfectly seasoned batter! Also had the fried scallops which were heavenly too! They were not the little scallops, but nice big ones (and a lot of them) and perfectly cooked. They also have delicious fresh lemonade (you can watch the girl squeeze the lemons). No liquor liscence, but do permit you to bring your own if you prefer suds to wash down your clams.


S. Cue

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Does anyone have any suggestions for superb fried clams in the city of Boston (price no object!)? I'll be in Boston for a week starting this Saturday, but will be pretty much confined to the city.

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I don't know about "superb" but I can think of some places.

Jasper's Summer Shack. Jasper White's restaurant. The original and largest is in Cambridge, close to the Alewife T stop, if you're using public transportation. In Boston. there's a smaller outpost in Back Bay, off Boylston St. close to Mass. Ave.

Legal Seafoods. A local chain but if that's what's handy, give it a try. They're scattered around the city. Food is reliably good for a chain, but can't remember their fried clams.

Kingfish Hall. Part of the Todd English Empire. Located in Fanueil Hall so convenient for tourism. My memory is excellent fried clams, small portion, high price.



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Legal Seafoods. A local chain but if that's what's handy, give it a try. They're scattered around the city.  Food is reliably good for a chain, but can't remember their fried clams.

Thanks for the suggestions. Legal Seafood is no longer a local chain, by the way. They now have...er...outlets up and down the east coast, in Florida, Virginia, Maryland, DC, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, as well as Massachusetts. They have a restaurant at National Airport in Washington, where I have had a plate of their fried clams (which were pretty good). Since I'll be flying from that airport to Logan on Saturday, maybe I'll just have some fried clams before boarding and after I land, and get it out of the way. :laugh:

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*bump!*

It's that time of year again folks! Post your Fried Clam Porn ahee-yuh! :rolleyes:

Went out to Two Lights Lobster Shack yesterday. Beautiful sunny, summer New England day out by the lighthouse. The breeze off the water meant a slight chill (ocean=50degrees) but boy, was it great to have the warm weather back in Maine.

The line wasn't bad at 4pm. Prices were above average at $12 to $18 for s/m/lg fried clam order. Unfortunately, they were over-done and bereft of flavor. :angry: A low pressure storm that spun around on top of us for a month or so, caused all the rain in May to close much of the coast to harvesting. Soft shelled clams are coming from way down east or canadian shores.

I asked one of the bus-people how the day is going and he said it was really, really busy. Maybe the fry-folk were just pooped.


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Shellfish beds are closed to harvesters from Maine to Cape Cod, the result of a toxic "red tide" algae bloom. The ban on clamming and other shell-fishing for the second year in a row comes as the summer season starts.

Hear here.

Ouch.


Edited by ahr (log)

"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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I was visiting my parents in Mystic this weekend and had planned on visiting Sea Swirl on Rt 1, but the fates conspired against our schedule. Next time ... and boy, I've been craving fried whole bellies, so it was a real disappointment. :sad:


Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

My eGullet blog

The Renegade Writer Blog

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A recent visit to Johnny Ad's:

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Edited by pennbrew (log)

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Now that's what I'm talkin' about, whoa yeah! Wooo!!! Plump and juicey!

A real lemon too. To my dismay, Two Lights now offers little yellow packets of "lemon juice" instead of the real deal, but hey - at fifty cents each, real lemons are a drag on the bottom line. Might have to pull a ClamShackSmackdown star off their rating for that though. :hmmm:


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Yup, real lemon and hot sauce is all I need. No tartar sauce, thank you. And the clams were yummy, other than one or two mushy ones (unavoidable, I guess???)

These clams were the highlight of an otherwise rather-disappointing New England food trip.

---Guy

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