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Clams/Shellfish

After reading the Times article on fried clams last week, I've had a hankering. Anyone recommend a place in Boston with good fried clams. Failing that, demonstrative shellfish will do.

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  1. I can be only marginally responsive, but I’ll not let that stop me.

    For some reason that I do not fully understand a really good fried clam experience is difficult to produce.

    The best fried clams I have ever had, and am fortunate to have consistently, is at Shaw’s in New Harbor, Maine. It is touristy, not at all obscure, and not close to Boston. But it is my reference fried clam. ‘Light’ (which is a ridiculous description for any deep fried food, but I mean it tastes good, crispy, flavorful, not simply greasy) and, perhaps most importantly, tastes like *clam*. Clams are the king of unami.

    As one travels the 3.5 hours from New Harbor to Boston the quality of the fried clam experience drops off.

    The Old Ferry Landing on the Pisquataqua in Portsmouth has quite good fried seafood and is reasonably priced. No pretense, beautiful setting in nice weather, one hour from Boston.

    There is a bit of a quality spike in Ipswich/Essex where a lot of clams are harvested. Woodman’s in Essex is touristy, expensive, and has OK fried clams. People speak of the clam box in Ipswich as well.

    In the Boston area proper, and I hear this is a controversial recommendation on this board, the fried clams at the Summer Shack at Alewife are consistently OK. I have not had fried clams anywhere else in greater Boston that did not simply frustrate me that I was not further North.

    OK, so my theory as to why good fried clams are difficult to produce … I think that deep frying well is very difficult to do, different foods require very different preparation, and most of the people working fryolaters are not particularly well compensated and therefore not typically skilled. The key to good fried seafood in general is getting past thinking of it as fast/cheap food.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Carty

      In the Essex/Ipswich area, would definitely recommend The Clam Box (Ipswich) or J.T. Farnham's (Essex) for fried clams in a clam shack setting or Village Restaurant (Essex) for a sit-down restaurant experience. Have seen positive feedback on Essex Seafood, but haven't been. On the South Shore, the Hingham Lobster Pound does clams really well, but you have to eat in your car. These are also the best options in the Greater Boston area I know of for this dish.

      While I haven't had the clams at Jasper White's, I've never liked anything else there and would be reluctant to send anyone there for any reason.

      1. re: Carty

        Yes many fry cooks are working their way through collage. But there are many that have chosen this as there profession. I have been working at the Clam Box for the past 31 years. And know many people that have been frying clams for many years. It's not as easy as it seems. There are more variables than you could think of in making a great fried clam.

        1. re: Clamman

          Then you must know the guy (Mike) who originally opened Seafood Etc. in Haverhill....or are you him?

          1. re: Infomaniac

            No I'm not Mike but I did help to teach him how to fry a clam.
            Dale

            1. re: Clamman

              And a fine job you did Dale.

              The new owners of Seafood Etc. are are doing a good job with fried clams & seafood too.

        2. re: Carty

          I had the fried clams at the downtown Summer Shack location just recently and I thought they were excellent. Very light and crispy. I was surprised, because Jasper's does seem to be panned on this board regularly. But we've had pretty good luck there with apps and simpler foods.

        3. Other than some amazing fried clams in Menemsha, Martha's Vineyard, I think I have basicly graduated from clamshacks. Often they are staffed with part timers and the oil thickens quickly.

          Although not a fan of the place, we had exceptional frclams at Rustic Kitchen on Stuart Street. Other than that, I head to B&G or Neptunes for great frclams. NEVER Legal - sometimes they are great, other times they are downright HowardJohnson's lousy. IMHO of course!

          8 Replies
          1. re: gyppielou

            I'm new (back) in town and had not heard of Rustic Kitchen.. so I thought I would link it

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            Rustic Kitchen
            210 Stuart Street, Boston, MA 02116

            1. re: gyppielou

              I hope I never graduate from clam shacks..:)

              1. re: 9lives

                Then you have had great luck in your clamshack experience. I mean no disrespect, but have a 50/50 average of good to poor fried clam flavour and quality.....and very few out of the ballpark experience....and yes this comes from over 40 years of experience! LOL!

                1. re: gyppielou

                  I guess I'm just lucky because my hit/miss ratio is far better than 50/50 when it comes to clam shack experiences.

                  I'm sure the next time I'm waiting on a line somewhere, I'll wish there were more people getting their fried clams at Rustic Kitchen; instead of the clam shack.

                  To each his own..40+ years experience here too.

                  1. re: 9lives

                    In my 40+ years of Clam Shack experiences, I've had excellent luck also. I stick to regular rotation of shacks along the North Shore and New Hampshire coast. Some of the shacks are being run by second generation family members.
                    I lost one of my favorite places for fried clams and seafood last year, Dube's Seafood in Salem, MA. It was a tough loss, but I'm finally getting over it.

                    1. re: Infomaniac

                      Someone told me Dube's might be opening somewhere else. Or was that Bob's? Man, they *both* closed?

                      1. re: Joanie

                        I just asked the person who told me Dube's closed and now she tells me she ment Bob's Famous Fried Clams. Looks like a trip to Salem is in store for tomorrow night. I've avoided Salem all year because of this.

                        I'd love to see Bob's open again.

                        Sorry for the confusion, and thanks for prompting me to ask again.

                        1. re: Infomaniac

                          DON'T DO THAT!!! You almost gave me a heart attack. I was just telling someone about Dube's and did a Google search to find the address and found you post about it closing. I moved to Georgia from Massachusetts over 15 years ago and we still make trips to the north shore at least twice a year just to eat Dube's, Bill & Bob's, and another place that I can't think of the name of that has the BEST lobster rolls ever. I didn't get a chance to go at all last year and have been having withdrawals. You almost gave me a heart attack.

            2. It's not in Boston but less than 6 miles north- Moultons Seafood on Winthrop St, Medford 781-396-6466. They have the absolute best fried clams around and you don't have to drive 45 minutes to the north shore. Give them a try guaranteed not to disappoint.
              I highly recommend that "carty" try them since his experiences on really great fried clams seems to be lacking for the Boston area. Try Moultons and I bet your experiences will be changed forever.

              1 Reply
              1. re: MeffaBabe

                I tried the scallops there (broiled) and my SO ordered fried scallops at Moulton's. My mistake for getting broiled - they must have waited on the fried ones...mine were cool by the time they came to the table...the fried scallops were excellent though!

              2. Neptune and Clam Box are my favorites (Neptune's have a great light batter), Dairy Joy in Weston is pretty good, Jasper's Woodman's and Legal's are just ok, and I haven't had the rest.

                1 Reply
                1. re: steinpilz

                  The Village in Essex has the best fried clams, consistently but not a clamshack. I go to JT Farnhams and Essex Seafood for that experience.

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                  Essex Seafood
                  143 Eastern Ave, Essex, MA 01929

                2. Kellys Landing in Southie has great fried clams and fried scallops.

                  1. I have this board to thank for steering me to Neptune Oyster in the North End and Grumpy White's in Quincy for excellent fried clams. It was the first request from overseas visitors in weather almost like this.

                    Neptune Oyster offers their fried clams as an appetizer, in the $15-!8 price range, but don't let that deter you. The portion size is decent, and they are beautifully fried. The clams themselves are small, but there are some tender bellies, and the tartar sauce is very good.

                    Grumpy White's in Quincy serves a more traditionally fried platter, but has larger clams with some great, flavorful bellies. They come with average french fries and cole slaw, but the clams are the main attraction, and it is a generous serving at $19.00. I would call ahead to make sure they have them, as they sometimes run out or don't expect an influx of clam-craving diners. I called ahead and they set some aside for us.

                    I have had the fried clams at the Summer Shack, and they were good. They were smaller, similar in size to those at Neptune. The appetizer portion is small; the basket with fries and coleslaw is better value.

                    I am looking forward to sampling some of the other recommendations here and on previous threads. It is great have options for this quintessential New England comfort food in the "off-season". What better season than this?