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Oct 24, 2006 02:43 AM

Albany - Al's Big Burger – Fried clam bits better than Red Lobster or Long John Silver

That is not really damning the place with faint praise. We’re talking frozen clams here. At least Al’s has clams under the breading. I have yet to find a clam piece in the other two joints.

There are some good points and if you are having clam withdrawal and can’t get to Woodhouse, Old Port Lobster Shack, Yankee Pier or Sam’s Chowder House ... these aren’t bad.

The breading is good and greaseless and there is a good clam flavor. With the tartar sauce ... satisfying even. For $4.99 the plastic basket is half clams and half crinkle-cut fries which are nicely fried too.

They might not be as good as the clam strips were at Howard Johnson because they really can’t be classified as strips. There are a few strips but maybe 1/3 little clam-pieces.

However, they were a worthy homage to the HoJo clam strip.

They gave me cocktail sauce at first. I thought it was catsup and initially was impressed that Al’s was upscaling the catsup with bits of pepper ... or maybe relish ... then realized it was supposed to be cocktail sauce. I had to ask for tartar sauce and they will give you as many little plastic cups as you like.

The tartar sauce is nothing fancy but good. I didn’t realize how critical the tartar sauce was to the clam piece until the first tartar sauce/clam bit bite. It upgraded the clams from acceptable to good.

However no amount of tartar sauce can save the Red Lobster or Long John Silver fried clam piece because they lack the critical clam ... or perhaps those clams were so embarrassed to be served that way that they escaped the breading. The LJS clams are particulary crummy with a vegetal tasting coating.

Tempted again by either the banana or peanut butter shake ... but fried clams ... tartar sauce ... fries ... there is only so much abuse the arteries can take at one sitting.

Buried in some recent post, someone recommended the clams at Big Al’s. Thanks. Not bad for frozen clam pieces.

Anyplace else serve a servicable clam strip?

Al's Big Burger
437 San Pablo Avenue


Hours: Monday - Saturday - 11 am - 8 pm

Hot Dog at Al’s

East Bay Express on Al’s

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  1. Hey,

    Do you know if Pup Hut does the fried clams? I cain't remember.


    1 Reply
    1. re: DrBiggles

      No. Not the last time I looked. Biggles ... great find up the street from Pup Hut. I'm writing it up. Look for Joya de Ceren report. The El Tazamel family started a new place.

    2. Man, I have to say the stretch along SP avenue there between McBryde and Solano (plus a little further) is an absolute dream come true for the area. There's no less than 3 Mexican groceries and a Halal market I still haven't made it in to.

      OH OH OH. Hey, I've been watching and that coffee roaster is still being worked on. Catahulu? I think it's across the street from El Tucan. The the old Merry Maids building. In fact, the owner of Merry Maids is the owner and main roaster guy. I don't believe he has much experience, he's been in to talk to James at Blue Bottle. Cross yer fangers, we'll have a coffee roaster to add !!!


      2 Replies
      1. re: DrBiggles

        Good heavens Biggles. That's a major scoop. Just hope Blue Bottle doesn't corrupt the guy. If a customer wants their beans ground ... grind them. That is beyond cool though if it happens.

        1. re: DrBiggles

          Hasn't the coming soon sign on the coffee roster been up for at least a year? I'd like to see one as much as anyone, but I think it's DOA.