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May 21, 2007 10:55 AM

steamers & beer - Halfway Cafe

It was about a year ago that I asked the board for some steamer & beer joint recs. I guess I get this craving annually. There were a couple mentions for the Halfway Cafe last year but I pooh-poohed the idea but decided yesterday to give the Watertown location a shot.

Steamers were great! I got 1 1/2 lbs steamed in beer and garlic for $13.99. A pretty good deal. Steamers were fresh, plump and sweet. I thoroughly enjoyed them all- was even tempted to get another order. (3lb deal is $17.99.) BF had steak tips with mashed. I didn't try the tips, he said they were great (they were a nice looking medium rare). The mashed was surprisingly good - the skin-on variety. Very smooth and garlicky.

I found myself lingering for a while so I could watch the Sox game. Service at the bar was really nice. Two attentive bartenders with a good sense of humor. It was nice to hang out at a down-scale neighborhood joint and find a couple treats on the menu. Happy to have finally found a cheap spot to watch a baseball game and snack on steamers.Looking forward to returning soon.

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  1. I haven't been in a while, but the few times I went to that Watertown location, I really liked it. It's good, casual, comfort food, and as I recall, they had some good beers on tap too. May have to make a trip back there one of these days.

    1. I have been there on a few occasions when I lived a bit closer - I don't think I have had a bad meal - and I love the free popcorn.

      1. Great post. Thank you for sharing. Sounds like I need to add this place to my list. GO SOX!!!

        1. I got steamers at the Dedham branch several months ago. They were so full of grit and crud I could have built a sand castle. Worst I've ever had, sorry to say. And the waitress never brought popcorn, even when I asked.

          The time I went in Watertown, the turkey tips were dry and tasteless, though at least they remembered the popcorn. I've given up on this chain.

          7 Replies
          1. re: bachslunch

            I've had gritty ones there too, I assumed you were just supposed to kind of wash the grit off by swirling them around in that big bowl of steaming broth served with the steamers. Then again I only had them twice I think.

            1. re: Dax

              That's what I was taught. I can't imagine chowing on them straight out of the shell. A couple swishes in the broth, followed by a dip in butter and they're darn good to me!

              1. re: kittychow

                Depends ... I had some really really dirty ones at Essex seafood last week. Even heavy duty swirling in broth only got so much sand out. I chalked it up to the rough weather and will keep it in mind next time I try to eat steamers in a storm.

                1. re: yumyum

                  That is pretty much why I only got them twice, at Halfway or otherwise. I don't do sand; to me, it's nearly as bad as chewing tinfoil

                2. re: kittychow

                  Not to worry, I'm an old hand at eating steamers. Dax and kittychow, you're right -- the accompanying cup of clam broth is for swishing the clam bodies in to remove any stray grit. Did that at the Halfway Cafe the time I went, but it was like trying to wash away Revere Beach with a wading pool of water. Some places have a problem with this (as yumyum correctly notes below) and I'd guess it's a function of where they get the clams from and/or how well they're cleaned before cooking.

                  1. re: bachslunch

                    Thanks! If this is old hand for you are there other places you suggest I check out?

                    1. re: kittychow

                      Problem is, all of the places where I remember having steamers and liking them are places that I haven't been to in a while (Sea Witch in Peabody, Woodman's in Essex), or are closed (Newick's in Hampton, Goodwin's in Lynnfield). Much as I like steamers, I haven't had much opportunity to eat them recently until going to the Halfway Cafe in Dedham. So I unfortunately can't with confidence suggest a good current spot for you.

                      But I do know how to eat steamers and also know that eating excessively muddy or gritty ones isn't a pleasant experience (like I had once at another long closed Lynnfield spot, Good Luck Farms). Given this, and adding in how long it's been since Goodwin's closed, I think I can confidently claim to be an "old hand" at eating them.

                      Sorry I can't be of more help on a recommendation.

            2. I love the (Dedham) Halfway Cafe for basic bar food. They have very good Onion Rings and Buffalo Wings (specify "on the bone" and "well-done").
              My DC gets the steamers on occasion and they range from excellent to sandy/gritty, so he doesn't get them often, and avoids the steamed-with-beer/onion feeling that it doesn't improve the flavor.
              Be sure to order Wings... Rings... and the obscene "Safari Dog" - a one pound Pearl Hotdog. It's truly outrageous and served with skin-on french fries.