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Jul 29, 2008 07:55 AM

Klam Krawl Trip Report

Klam Krawl Trip Report - 7/25/08

A nice sized group of CH’ers meet up to sample some native clams on the North Shore. We rated the clams based on taste, clam size, texture of batter and value. There were some pleasant surprises and some shockers. All of the places were similar in price and offered medium or large boxes in the $20.00 range.

We went to the following to sample the areas best:

Lobster Pool – Rockport
Essex Seafood’s – Essex
Farnham’s – Essex
Woodman’s – Essex
Clam Box – Ipswich

1. The Worst: Essex Seafood.

The clams were microscopic in size and severely over cooked with the smallest portion delivered for the price. The clams were about the size of my ‘pinky finger’ and the bellies about the size of my ‘pinky finger nail’. They were so over cooked that they were chewy like rubber bands, tasteless, the tiny bellies were dried up, and hard from the frying. Essex Seafood’s was nothing short of robbery!

2. Next to Last Place: Farnham’s.

This was shocking to some of us. The clams were slightly bigger that Essex Seafood, had a better overall clam flavor and were cooked to a golden brown. However the batter was gummy tasting and had no signs of crispiness thus taking away any possibility of texture.

On a side note; Scuba saw some ‘Cod Cheeks’ on the menu and picked up a box for the Chowers to try out. They were a bit stronger tasting, in a good way, than the taste of Cod that you would expect in Fish & Chips. They were crisp and very creamy tasting. Also, Farnham’s tartar sauce was meh.

3. Middle of the Road: Lobster Pool.

The clams were about the same size as Farnham’s with good flavor and cooked to a golden brown deliciousness. The batter was nice and crisp with excellent mouth texture. If the clams were a bit larger the Lobster Pool may have pulled into a tie with the runner up on this Krawl as the quantity of clams made for a good value.

On a side note: The Lobster Pool has a spectacular view as it is right on the ocean in an inlet. There are picnic tables both in and outside and the place is very clean. A plus was they offered complementary ice cold sliced watermelon, all you wanted.

4. Runner up: Woodman’s.

This was the most surprising to us as there have been a lot of mixed opinions and reviews on the board. The clams were good sized with good clam flavor and not chewy at all. A few of my clams had grit when I bit into them, not too pleasant, some tasted greasy, but overall the clams were cooked to a golden brown in a fairly good textured batter. The portion was also very respectable for the price.

4. The Winner: Clam Box.

This was the winner, I mean it wasn’t even close, every one of us was very impressed the clams. The clams were the largest in size which meant to us Krawlers that Clam Box was buying a high quality product, no skimping. The clams had no grit, not even with those larger bellies, were very flavorful, tender and were cooked to perfection, not greasy at all. They were golden in color with a light crisp batter. They were also the best value, the box was overflowing, and the Clam Box is very generous with the portions.

On a side note: two of the CH'ers ordered some crisp onion rings, sweet scallops and meduim sized shrimp, just to cap off the evening!

On a final note:

I was very impressed with 'Scuba Jr.', this young gentleman, who is about to enter high school this September, not only kept company with Scuba, the dad, and the rest of us not so young CH’ers, he belted down those bi-valves like a pro! Definitely a future foodie in the making, I guess the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree!

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  1. Sad to hear Essex Seafood was so lame, they are usually my go to place.

    1 Reply
    1. re: StriperGuy

      Me too. Essex has been my favorite for a while -- although I've not had their fried clams this summer -- the tartar sauce from Farnhams is great. Woodmans in the top 2 is a shocker too.

    2. Great report, treb. I'm shocked about Farnham's, too. I mean, if Guy Fieri liked it, it has to be good! Right? ;-b

      1 Reply
      1. re: hiddenboston

        Yah, most of us were in shock, very disappointed. I was also pumped when Guy from DD&D's went there but, as you are probably aware, that can also create huge ego's and complacency.

      2. Nice report....curious as to how long this crawl lasted from start to finish.
        Also, nice eye Scuba spotting the Cod Cheeks.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Infomaniac

          The Krawl began at 5pm +/- and ended around 8:30 pm. We ate a good share of clams!

        2. Thanks for the report. Always loved the Clam Box and agree that it is the best. For some reason, i;m usually closer to the other places and don't make it there as frequently as I'd like. Essex was always my second, so hopefully not a downhill alert.

          1. Many thanks for the report.... I've been waiting to hear how everything went. We usually go to Woodman's since I do know that Farnum's "ain't what it used to be". I won't tell you how long ago I first went to Farnum's, tho . Way back then they were the best of all.

            We drove past the Clam Box about 4:00 returning from Tendercrop and the line was snaked around to the back. I thought they closed to change the fry oil then.
            I wonder: when is the best time to go there ..?????

            4 Replies
            1. re: Gio

              the Oil Change happens around 2pm. so i would say 3-4pm would work. if it's mid week you can call in an order and time your arrival accordingly.

              1. re: ScubaSteve

                Thank you! Always wanted to stop but the that long line is off-putting. Calling ahead makes such sense.

                1. re: Gio

                  Scuba has the Clam Box Phone Number on Speed Dial, LOL!

                  1. re: treb

                    HAH! That's what I'm going to have to do. I need - absolutely need to taste those beauties!

                    I wish I could have joined the party.... but I think I could not have been able to keep up.. Maybe next time.....