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Flo's Clam Shack, Middletown (Newport) Rhode Island

  • c

How does a place like this get such a good reputation?
It was recommended by more than one local. It does
have that New England seafood shack ambiance. It's
on the water and the upstairs deck has a nice view.
But the food was only mediocre and way overpriced.
And the clamcakes, for which Flo's is supposedly
famous were an insult to the palate. They looked
like zeppoles and seemed to be made out of a blob
of dense batter with almost no clam flavor and only
one or two pieces of clam the size of those tidbits
in canned clam sauce. The steamers cost $16 for a
flat paper plate with maybe a dozen and a half
clams on it. For that price I expect a giant bowl
of clams. You order your food at a window
and go back (downstairs if you're up on the deck)
to pick it up when they call your number. They
have a nice bar area but serve only beer and wine,
and a limited selection at that. What a

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  1. Christina wrote: the clamcakes, for which Flo's is supposedly famous were an insult to the palate. They looked like zeppoles and seemed to be made out of a blob of dense batter with almost no clam flavor and only one or two pieces of clam the size of those tidbits in canned clam sauce.

    And the problem is what???? This is what clamcakes are, just like the archetypical Philly cheesesteak is cheap meat with cheap cheese on a cheap roll. Ever tried "pork hash" in South Carolina?

    Go to any place in South County RI and order clamcakes and you'll get what you got at Flo's. Blobs of leaden dough with a few bits of clam. But they taste great!

    "It is what it is."

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bob W.

      How can a transplanted Islander get his hands on some of these clamcakes? Do you ship cross-country? I have to have some and no recipe I've discovered in cooking books seems to do the job. Help!

      1. re: ItzBigTee

        As an ex-Rhode Islander I am totally at a loss as to where to get clamcakes now, other than to go back to RI and get some. I don't think they are something you want shipped, even across the street. We're talking a half-life of minutes. :>)

    2. h
      Heidi Claire

      Ditto - add a cup of bland broth-style chowder and a skimpy non-succulent lobster roll to our disappointing visit this past summer.

      1. l
        Lynne Hodgman

        You aren't by any chance the Chris who once worked at the RI School for the Deaf, are you?!

        1. My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Flo's on June 10, 2008 while touring R.I. on our way to her college reunion in New Haven, C.T. I have grown up in the restaurant business in Chicago, 30 years plus of ownership/upscale steak house, USDA Prime Meats. We were refered enthusiatically to Flo's by two different shopkeepers in Newport and we weren't disapointed. The food was wonderful and amazing from both the upstairs bar and the downstairs counter. The place has a great, funky charm, super friendly staff and colorful locals at the bar. We literally sampled practically their entire menu on two visits, (came back the following day), and not one miss it the lot of it! The lobster rolls were delicious, clams, every which way, knocked us out, fish entrees were terrific, fried oysters incredible! If you're in the area, don't miss this spot! Demetri and Marisa Alexander, Chicago, Illinois.

          1. flos has gone straight down hill in the last few years,quality and size of food served has hit new lows.they are shooting for the tourists,the eat there once people,cuz no local folks are going there anymore,its just such a ripoff.that run down look is the owner being cheap,not spending any money on the place,not a great look.the flos in island park is a little better because it is just a shack,you know what to expect.theres way better places to get your fried clam fix,evelyns in tiverton,quitos in bristol,blount in warren,etc.

            1. I grew up not too far from the Island Park Flo's, and was back in the area last week on vacation (early Aug 2008). I got a stuffed quahog (stuffie) because it was always my favorite. It was very poor, like some wet warm bread with red coloring. It was virtually devoid of flavor until I slathered it with hot sauce. Even at that, I threw half of it away. The menu said it was something like $2.40, but they charged me $2.65. I didn't try anything else there after that experience. They used to be my fave in the area, but it's unlikely I'll be back.

              BTW, though I didn't get a chance to try them this year, last year I got clamcakes at Chelo's (http://www.chelos.com/) a few times and they were excellent. Try those if that's what you're looking for. I hope they're still as good.

              1. I could not agree with you more except for the part wher you mentioned only beer and wine being served. We were there for midweek lunch two weeks ago and the upstairs bar had many different offerings.
                OK so now this is where my experience goes completely downhill. I had one bite of the "stuffie" and was about to throw it out until some friends wanted to try it and they were as disgusted as me. The chowder (creamy style) was devoid of any clam flavor or clams for that matter and seemed to be more of a mashed potato soup (horrible) and also disposed of. And then the clamcakes were despicable. I completely disagree with bob W below whom states that is how they are supposed to be. They should be light and fluffy with some clammy flavor. The ones at Floes were extremely dense and would be better served for golfing with rather than eating. After leaving Floes and spending a good amount of $ for nothing. I needed to pick up a sandwich elsewherere.
                The next day we went to the place across the stree from Floes (Atlantic Beach Club or something similar to that) and the clamcakes were 100% better as was the view.

                1. We have been to Flo's in the past and loved it. It has gone downhill rapidly. Maybe it was sold or the rent went up. There are way too many cooks for a clam shack. Part of the ambience used to be waiting in line. It's definitely fast food now.

                  Last Saturday, we took friends there (we were camping at Second Beach). It was embarassingly horrible. Never again! The lobster roll was thirteen dollars and had an ounce of lobster meat that wasn't even fresh! We used to live in Fairhaven, Mass and would drive to Flo's for the food. It's back to Gene's on Route 6 in Farhaven for us..

                  The clam cakes are definetely the worst on the South Coast. Don't listen to the earlier reply! They are tiny, soggy and do not have any clam pieces or flavor.

                  The fish and chips wer OK, but the fries were reheated and soggy, also.

                  1. I couldn't agree more with christina z.....the food used to be ok when you were in the mood for some greasy, fried "beach food" as we New Englander's call it. Flo's was always a reliable spot, but not this summer.....WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED? It's gotten more expensive and tastes worse than ever. 5 of us ate there one night and everybody's food was so overcooked, it was almost burned. I figured it was an off night, so I gave them another chance. This time, I asked specifically to not have the food overcooked. I ordered clam strips, I got whole clams. They were definitely not overcooked......instead, they handed me a box of almost raw clams, with all the coating falling off. It was a "to go" order, so I had to finish cooking them when I got home. The clamcakes were overcooked again too. And, what really was the final straw that will keep me away for good.....the help was horrible.....unfriendly....and literally just treats everyone like a number. It's starting to feel more like prison food, than good old beach food.....i'm done !

                    Flo's Clam Shack
                    4 Wave Ave, Middletown, RI 02842

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: petwhisperer

                      head over to quitos in bristol,forget evelyns too.