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Jun 3, 2001 10:31 PM

The Demise of Woodman's

  • l

Okay, I know that people have been talking about the demise of Woodman's for a long time; but I have been steadfast in my loyalty. Now, the time has come for me to cast aside the trappings of my youth. I went hiking with a dear friend,(okay, a significant other...) on Crane's Beach, in the mist, and I thought, "Woodman's will really be the piece de resistance of our North Shore experience"...Okay, I know they've been pricey for awhile...But $40.00 for a plate of steamers, and a clam dinner? I mean, c'mon, IT'S A CLAM SHACK,people!!!! We're talkin'no veggies and sides!!! It's fried food you eat on a summer's afternoon when you're fried and exhausted!!! They don't have wine on tap in plastic glasses anymore, they charge $4.50 for those little bottles they serve in airplanes!!! PUH-leeze!!! From now on, I'm gonnah drive half-way back to Boston, to the Sea-Witch; where the Lobster is cheap, the wine is reasonable, and they serve broccoli and potatoes with your dinner!!! The loss of innocence is SO sad......And, I might add,since the weather was bad, there wasn't even a line, and they STILL didn't measure up....I'm gonnah go cry into my pillow now......

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  1. Stop time try The Clam Box on Rt. 133 in Ipswich, or Farnum's (sp?) up the road from Woodman's in Essex. Both places have great fried clams, the prices were reasonable when I was last there; I'm not sure about the wine situation though.

    Memorial day weekend my husband and I were dying for lobsters and we made the mistake of going to Woodman's instead of the local fish market. $30 each got us a pre-cooked lobster with melted butter and nothing else. Not even a roll or some lousy corn on the cob. We were thoroughly disappointed. And the place was EMPTY.

    1. j
      Jason Valdes Greenwood

      I've never been a big fan of Woodman's. Farnham's is our preferred place in Essex/Ipswich area. A fried dinner is more than enough for two of us, $13.95 for the clam one. They do have beer and wine. An ok selection of beer, and nothing too exciting for wine.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Jason Valdes Greenwood

        Hey, they don't NEED to have a great wine list---it's a CLAM SHACK!!!!!! Do they do any steamed clams? Where is it?

        1. re: leslie

          All these places are on Rte. 133. Essex Seafood (my choice) too. The Clam Box is toward Ipswich from Woodman's, and Farnham's and Essex Seafood are toward Gloucester.

          I've also had good meals at East End Seafood in Rowley. That's on Railroad Ave., right off Rte. 1A.

          1. re: C. Fox

            The fried clams at East End Seafood are some of the best I've ever had. Had them twice and recommend them highly. On the other hand, the lobster roll was mediocre at best and the scallops so-so. Stick with the clams after a morning at the flea market.


            1. re: Joanie

              At the intersection of 1 and 133 in Rowlet is McIntyre's. They recently changed ownership and my husband and I eating our way back though the menu to ensure that everything is still as good as before. You can eat inside in the air conditioned dining room, or outside at the picnic tables.

              Their lobster roll is good - grilled bun, one lettuce leaf - and I love their scallops. My husband is a huge fan of the clams. Their chowder used to be excellent - we haven't tried it yet under the new ownership so I'm not sure how it rates now. For the non-seafood eaters in your party, they grill a great hot dog and also have chicken and burgers.

              The line is *never* as long as the one at the Clam Box and the prices & quantity of food is better. I also think the quality of the food is as good or better.

              BTW - I also agree that Woodman's is just a tourist trap these days - and a very overpriced one at that. If I'm in Essex, I prefer Farnham's.


      2. It's been a long time since I've been to Woodman's, and to tell you the truth, I could never figure out why it was as well-hyped as it was (or is). At least the clams must be local and fresh. I don't get up that way all that much in any case, mainly heading south to Cape Cod, where (IMNSHO) Captain Frosty's RULES for fried clams and fish and chips.

        In fact, some of the BEST clams I've ever eaten were at Captain Frosty's after a big storm. The storm had messed up clamming pretty much, and so all the Cap'n could get was razor clams. Now, I am quite fond of razors, but I'd never had 'em fried before. I used to just eat them right on the beach, raw (I don't do that any more). Anyway, the fried razors were about as tasty as clams get! Yeah, they were a little chewier than soft clams, but well worth the effort.

        There used to be a seafood shack out at the end of Nantasket, across from the high school. My brother and I would fish off an old dilapidated pier there and get fried clams for lunch. Man, those clams were HUGE - tasty, too. This was around the mid-1980s or so.

        A couple of times I tried to fry clams I'd dug myself. They came out really, really good, but I have to tell you, it's a LOT of work even after the digging.

        Good news - blue crabs have started to appear on Cape Cod, I caught a few Saturday, just had a couple of terrific crab sandwiches with fresh herbs! Oops...sorry for the digression. I look forward to checking out the much-recommended Clam Box in Essex next time I get up that way.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Bruce Smith

          Hey, where is Cap'n Frosty's? I get to the Cape occasionally and would love to give it a try.

          1. re: Rumcoconuts

            Frosty's is at the intersection of Rt. 6A and N. Dennis Road. If you were driving east on Rt. 6, you'd get off at exit 8, go north (left) on Union St., go up to 6A, make a right, and Frosty's would be I guess a mile or so up 6A. It is not a huge place, although there are booths, tables, and outdoor dining. You order at the counter and the food is delivered to your table. It looks like a soft ice cream stand and in fact, part of it is!

            All the seafood I have had there is good, but they are most famous for their fish and chips. I also like the clams. Most recently, I finally was hungry enough to break down and spend the $15 for the Captain's Plate. It was well worth the dough, being heaped with fish, clams, scallops, shrimp, and three clam cakes (fries and slaw too, of course). Also worthy of mention when available are the grilled salmon sandwich and the crab roll. But it's hard to go wrong there for with any of the seafood. Portion size CAN vary somewhat.

            Of all the people I have sent to Frosty's only one was disappointed, and that was because he favored a thicker batter. In fact, this same person recommended a place in Chatham to me which I didn't like as much as Frosty's - for the same reason he had, the batter! Still, it is hard to get bad seafood on the Cpoae once you know your way around a bit. Even if you DON'T know your way around, you have to be unlucky to get bad seafood there.

            And if you feel like ice cream afterward, pop on down to Sundae School on Lower County Road in Dennisport, the best!

            Let us know how it goes.

            1. re: Bruce Smith

              Thanks for the info, will have to give it a try next time on the Cape. Last weekend we ended up at the Raw Bar in Mashpee, fun place but caters to the bar crowd. Lobster and steamers were very good though. The chowder was good, not great, and the oysters were on the small side. But as far as I'm concerned, everything tastes better on a sunny day down the Cape!

              1. re: Rumcoconuts

                Yep, know just what you mean about the "tasting better" phenomenon. That reminds me, the clam chowder at Frosty's is good, although not exceptional in any way. Frosty's is a family-type place, I don't even think they serve beer and wine there.

        2. k
          Kristian McCarthy

          All you need to do is to go another 15 minutes past woodmans and go to Gloucester. On Rocky Neck Ave in East Gloucester is the best seafood place around. You want Killer fried clams, go to "The Studio". It's not open again until May, but it's worth the drive and the wait. Their clam chowder is to die for too. oh yeah its got a giant outdoor deck on the harbor that you can eat at and dock your boat there too if youv'e got one.