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Aug 5, 2002 07:01 PM

Two weeks of Chowing in Boston- Fried Clams, Egg Roll, Lobster and Ice Cream

  • j

We have returned to San Francisco several pounds heavier and with our cholesterol counts probably at
unacceptable levels, but we had a great time chowing down in Boston.

FRIED CLAMS: We had clams At Kelly’s, Bob’s in Salem, Lewis’, Village Restaurant, and Farnham’s in
Essex, The Chateau in Waltham, and Legal Seafood. We walked in and out of Choate Bridge Pub in Ipswich
because they did not have a no-smoking section. Farnham’s , Chateau, and Kelly’s had medium to large
bellies. Our clear favorites were Lewis’ and Farnham’s, with Chateau close behind. Lewis’ easily had the best batter; it was light and not greasy. It is located at 234 John Wise Ave. (rte 133). They use only local Essex clams. If they had large bellies they would have easily been our undisputed first choice. Farnham’s clams were very good. While the batter was slightly heavier than Lewis’ it was still excellent. Bob’s was pretty good, but a little on the greasy side. Kelly’s had too many rubbery ones. The service was kind of slow at Lewis’ and the clientele seemed to be mostly over 70, but the clams were definitely worth the wait.
Chateau was the big surprise: the clams were very tasty and the batter was good, but just a bit heavier than Farnham’s.

CLAM CHOWDER: We only sampled two chowders: Legal and Farnham’s. Both were good and made in
the same style. Farnham’s had a great deal more butter and therefore a much richer taste. It left the mouth coated with a buttery finish. I would have preferred a slightly larger clam-to-potato ratio.

ONION RINGS: We had these at Chateau, Legal, Kelly’s, Bob’s, and the Village Restaurant. Chateau were
the best, with a light tasty batter. Village and Legal were next. Legal’s were a bit on the greasy side and
were strings rather than rings. Village was not bad grease-wise, but the batter was a little bit too heavy.
Kelly’s were unacceptable, with very heavy batter; we threw most of them away.

LOBSTER ROLLS: We had these at Chateau, Kelly’s, Village, Bob’s, and McDonald’s. Kelly’s were far
superior to any of the others. Kelly’s had what seemed to be a whole lobster just overflowing a nicely grilled
bun. There was not too much mayonnaise. Chateau was almost as good as Kelly’s, but had just a little bit
less lobster and a little more mayonnaise. Village had way too much mayonnaise and not so much lobster on
an indifferent bun. Bob’s had the best buttery grilled bun, but the lobster salad was fair. McDonald’s is in a
class by itself. The bun is totally wrong and it’s not grilled. However the lobster salad in it is pretty good. If these rolls were available in California, I would happily get them. As it is I brought 4 packages of hot dog rolls back with me to make my own. The New England rolls have no crust except top and bottom, and
therefore absorb butter when grilled. The only hot dog rolls available in California have crust all around and are slit on the side.

LOBSTERS: We had many, many lobsters. The best were the boiled lobsters from TJ Hooks that a friend
made for us. The baked stuffed at legal was overcooked. The shrimp stuffing was tasty, but was swimming in so much butter that I felt my arteries clogging as I ate it. The Chinese style lobsters at South Pacific and both Billy Tse’s were excellent. We liked South Pacific’s lobster sauce a bit more.

CHINESE FOOD: We had Chinese Food at Kowloon in Saugus, South Pacific in Newton, and Billy Tse’s
in both Boston and Revere (see my post on Billy Tse’s below). Kowloon placed first in egg roll and their
spare ribs were very good flavor-wise, but were the fattiest. Kowloon’s egg rolls had much more pork in
them than the others. Billy Tse’s spare ribs were the best and the egg roll at the Revere location were also
excellent. South pacific had excellent spare ribs, but just OK egg rolls. Their egg rolls were overcooked and
had the least amount of pork. Their lobster sauce was excellent as was their sweet and sour pork. Their
butterfly shrimp was poor (too much batter)
The ribs at all 4 places were flavorful and meaty. BT’s and SP’s were very lean as well.

ICE CREAM: It’s always a treat to sample the many ice cream places in and around Boston. It is impossible
to get a cone with Jimmies in California; there seems to be some sort of law against dipping the ice cream
into a bowl of jimmies. Lizzy’s, in Waltham turned out to be our favorite this trip (see my post further down
the board). White Mountain, on Commonwealth, near BC, was also excellent. Brigham’s was fair, flavorful
but not rich enough. Richardson’s in Salem was a disappointment. I had several lumps of ice in my scoop.

NORTH END: We rediscovered the North End this trip. Limster introduced us to Modern Pastry on
Hanover St. The canolis, torrone, and biscotti were outstanding. We had a wonderful dinner at Cantina
D’Italia (see Limster’s post). Regina’s Pizza was as good as I remember with a thin crust, very tasty sauce,
and lots of cheese.

MISCELLANEOUS: The Indian Pudding at The Village was excellent. The strawberry shortcake at Lewis’
looked great, made with real biscuits, but we didn’t have any. We also had very good Italian Cold Cut and
Pepper Steak Subs at Nickey’s in Lynn. The rolls were just a tad soft otherwise they would have been
perfect. On the plane home, we took a bag of Kelly’s Roast Beef Sandwiches with us that were far better
than anything the airline offered.
The last place we lived in Massachussetts was Waltham. Wow has it changed! I know that next time we
come we will spend more time exploring the chowing in the Watch City.

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  1. Thanks so much for this informative post!

    I've lived here all my life and wouldn't have ever considered the Chateau as a potential source of fried clams or a lobster roll. Thanks for traveling across the country to open my eyes :-)


    6 Replies
    1. re: owen_meany

      I know what you mean. Here I've been plotting a North Shore Clam Crawl, and who woulda thought of Lewis'?

      1. re: C. Fox

        We would not have tried Lewis' except on the recommendation of someone in an antique store in Ipswich, who told us they had the best clams in the area.

        1. re: jaweino

          Waddaya think, clammers -- do we need to swap out one of our destinations and swap in Lewis' of Essex?

          1. re: C. Fox

            Yup! Just what I was thinking. I'm glad you already eliminated Woodman's.

            1. re: chowcat

              Woodman's was never even in the running.

              1. re: C. Fox

                Glad to hear it, because others seem to feel it must be tried in order to be dismissed. I'd rather give the space to a new place that comes highly recommended. So many clams, so little time!

    2. Sounds like you got a lot in while you were here. Personally, I don't think you touched upon many of the better palces in any of your categories, I hope you weren't left with a marginal impression of our foods. Let us know next time, I'm sure we'll come up with some great suggestions for you.

      1. I thought your lobster review was eye-catching for what you *didn't* say! Sounds like eating out for plain boiled lobster in the Boston area was not memorable, except at TJ Hooks where you knew somebody. (I have never been to TJ Hooks, and was very surprised that you liked the lobster there. My wife and I will have to give it a test!)

        I have found Boston VERY disappointing for lobster as I have not had a lobster that came close to the Beal's Maine Lobster Standard. In fact, I see a lot of posts in different restaurant sites telling me how great the lobster *dishes* are. To me that is a dead giveaway that the lobster itself is not good enough to stand on its own.

        Legal Seafood is one place where I thought they should be getting much better lobsters. Man, they charge you a first mortgage for the little critters, too.

        No, I'm not happy with Boston lobster.

        By the way, I agree that the White Mountain Creamery on Commonwealth Avenue is very good. I believe it is quite underrated. I still remember it as one of my highlights as a Boston University student along with (Steve) Herrell's. (Wonder where "Steve" is these days...)

        6 Replies
        1. re: bunnyr

          Dunno if this is up to date, but according to Herrell's website, "Mr. S. Herrell" is still with the business and still in Northampton.


          1. re: bunnyr

            He's owns Herrels. One in Harvard Square and One in Brighton.

            1. re: bunnyr

              I was just in Boston this past weekend and had fantastic lobster at a place you'd never expect ... Coogan's on Milk Street. This was the mystery restaurant I asked about a couple of months ago that was supposed to be near the Aquarium. Hubby found it again while we were wandering downtown.

              It seemed to be a bit of a young singles hangout on the Friday night we visited but I must say we found the lobster and fried clams very very tasty. Much much tastier (and cheaper) than what we get back here in Toronto, Canada. I'm sorry we weren't able stay longer to try the food at the wonderful looking (and smelling) food stalls at Quincy Market. We had a lovely time in your fair city and we would return much sooner if it weren't for our pathetic $. Blah.

              1. re: shan

                Glad you found the mystery lobster restaurant. Funny, I don't remember Coogan's suggested by anyone. And there were a lot of suggestions!

                1. re: Carrot

                  I remember the description saying something about walking straight out of the aquarium and walking into it. There's no way Coogan's could've been derived (deduced?) from that description!

                  1. re: oystershucker

                    Well, that's dear Hubby said ... hahaha. I thought men were always better at directions. He told me he was at the Aquarium, and when he left it, he walked straight ahead right into Coogan's. SIGH.

                    I must thank everyone again for all the suggestions.

            2. t
              Terry Reagan

              thanks so much for your detailed posting.
              my son and I are headed for 10 days in Boston and we are looking for some reccommendations for places that won't mean selling the farm (or what would be infinitely worse for him, the electric guitar). There seems to be a lot of mention of restaurants with NYC prices in this Chowhound section, so yours are very much appreciated. Happy chowings to you.

              (Mrs.) Terry Reagan
              Osorno, Chile

              1. When you say you had ice cream at "Richardson's in Salem", do you really mean Richardson's in Middleton? I'm surprised you were disappointed... I've never had a bad ice cream there, and in some cases have had the best I've ever had of that flavor. Their Tollhouse Cookie ice cream is out of this world.

                I'm curious what flavor you tried.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Chris VR

                  It was definitely Salem. I was very impressed with the size of the Baby Scoop. The flavor I had was Grapenut, which didn't work for me even without the ice. The Chocolate Chip seemed fine, and my friend is a big fan of their frozen yogurt. My problem may have been flavor specific, and I'll probably give them another try on my next trip to Boston.

                  1. re: jaweino

                    Whereabouts in Salem was this? I know of a couple of places in town that sell Richardson's: one of the stands at Salem Willows Park, and a place called the Yellow Dog Cafe across from Salem State College. Was it one of the above, or yet another?

                    1. re: C. Fox

                      It was neither of those. I don't know the name of the street. It has a sign out front that says Royal Scoop, and it's adjacent to a miniature golf course. There's a Gold's Gym nearby.

                      From reading all these posts it sounds like it's a place that carries Richardson's rather than an actual Richardson's. The ice I had in my cone could be explained by poor storage in transportation during the very hot weather when I was there. I guess next time I come east, I'll have to figure out where Middleton is and try it at the source.

                      1. re: jaweino

                        Easy. Just go west on Rte. 114. Once you pass the "Entering Middleton" sign, keep an eye out for Richardson's on your right.

                    2. re: jaweino

                      Yes, I think to best assess Richardson's you need to go to the mother ship in Middleton.

                      Although I had some damn fine ice cream at Christina's this weekend. Fresh Mint for me and Burnt Sugar for the husband. Top notch!

                    3. re: Chris VR

                      Just my 2 cents' re: Richardson's - have read so many posts on this site singing its praises, I was planning to drive out to Middleton. However, I happened into the ice cream store in Gloucester (along the boulevard, just after the bridge - don't remember the name, it says ICE CREAM in large letters on the front) and they sell only Richardson's. Had the vanilla which is my basis for comparing different ice cream brands and also happens to be my favourite flavour. It was OK, on the same level as Brigham's, but several notches below Herrell's and Ice Cream Junction (tie for #1 in my book).

                      1. re: ju

                        Ah, that may be the difference. A local place here in Melrose serves Richardsons and I think it's fine, your average ice cream cone. But nowhere near as good as the ice cream I get when I hike up to the actual Richardson's stand.

                        My guess is that the stand gets a HUGE amount of turnover so their product is always fresh. Maybe they also keep the good stuff and shop the B product out to other places? *shrug*