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Bobs in Kittery - Sadly Can't Recommend Anymore

  • m

We've been going to Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery for yrs, starting when it was just a tiny takeout place, before there was a retail outlet in sight. Have always loved their fried clams, lobster roll, and fried scallops. Our latest visit was a huge disappointment, the quality of the food has fallen and do not justify the prices. There were 5 of us for lunch, and the bill without drinks came to $100. The fried oysters were gritty, the clams only fair, and the meat in the lobster roll was tough. For $100, we had condiments from foil packets, had to wait ina long line both to order and to pick up the food, and had to clean and bus our own table. We used to enjoy the rustic atmosphere, great food, and casual dining. Now it just seems tired, crowded tourist trap with mediocre food. Sadly, that will be our last visit to Bob's (but we do like Robert's). I know I might get slammed here, but Bob's is just not what it used to be - IMHO).

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  1. is this based upon one recent visit or is it a downward trend over a decent period of time?

    2 Replies
    1. re: ScubaSteve

      Good question. The worst visit was the most recent one. But we had also commented on the visit before that that we thought it had gone downhill, but thought we might have just hit an off day ( only 2 of us and we both had the same thing). This latest visit all 5 of us ordered different items, and each of us thought our meals were mediocre at best ( and all 5 of us had been long time patrons).

    2. We were there in July and has the best lobster roll of our Maine trip. Seemed up to the usual standards to us. We get there on our regular trips to Portland an haven't seen the downward trend you spotted.

      Aren't they closed for the season now? If so, I'll hold off my judgment for a Spring visit.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BostonZest

        I'm pretty sure that they are open all year round.

      2. Bob's is open year-round and I agree that it has been going down-hill for some time now. The fried food, which used to be be crunchy and dry, is now soggy and greasy. It all tastes the same to me, be it chicken, clams or shrimp! The lobster rolls taste rather fishy, which means that the lobster must be frozen or old. And they got rid of the Ben and Jerry's ice cream!

        1. We've felt that Bob's is over priced and of mediocre quality for a long time now, but were hesitant to say so because of all the raves.. My BIL lives in Kittery and we used to meet there for lunch when driving through.. I feel the attraction might come from the outlet store crowd and the perceived allure of Ooooo, we're in MAINE! Living down eat, I think we might be spoiled w/ better quality and quantity for a lower price up here.
          Remember Chases Clam Shack on Badger Island in the 70's? The pretty girl at the window is now my wife.

          1. Thank you for coming out and saying it. I'm new to the area and my first visit to Bob's was with my wife this past summer. After what I've read about it here, I was expecting a lot more. It strikes me as an overpriced tourist trap. The lobster meat that was in my roll HAD to be frozen, and my fries were soggy, stale, and brutally disgusting - and there's not way that slaw is homemade. I think that most people that have a high opinion of the place may be recollecting on years past before Kittery turned into the commercialized MA annex that it is today. I'm happy that I'm not the only one who has noticed it because when I went there I thought I was on crazy pills after hearing all the buzz prior to this post.

            What gives with the line? There's a McD's down the street that will serve you prefrozen fried food for a fraction of the price.

            1 Reply
            1. I've only been to Bob's twice in the past three years--once to try it out, and another time to verify that it wasn't meeting my expectations. It was just "ok."

              Because of this I've never been to Robert's, though I've heard it's a step above with regards to food and service.

              2 Replies
                1. re: Shooley

                  If you know where Bob's Clam Hut is (next door to the Kittery Trading Post), Robert's is just across the street a little further down the road heading north.

              1. What a shame! It's been 5 years since I was there and I used to think it was one of the best places in NE for fried clams. Alas, the tackiness and tawdriness of Outlet Strip and its customers must have finally worn them down. Let's hope they read this board and change their ways

                1. We stopped in for dinner over Thanksgiving weekend 2008 and had a very good meal- clam strip basket and haddock dinner. The food was tasty, the breading and fries were crisp. As far as lines, condiments and table clearing; it's just the way they do things. If you're not a fan of self service, this place is not for you. I do agree the prices are high for what you get, but I attributed that to the touristy location.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: ErmineLair

                    Good clam strips..jeez..haven't had good ones since I was nine years old at HoJo's on the Portsmouth Rotary.

                    1. re: Big Fat Moe

                      There are 'those", BFM, that claim even that penultimate clam shack, The Clam Box of Ipswich, MA, has clam strips and "they" further state that they're "good"! Of course, I would have no direct knowledge of this oxymorononic statement

                      Happy New Years,

                      1. re: Harp00n

                        Clamstrips - Yuck! Seriously lacking the important tasty bit without which is like chewing a rubber tire.

                        Never been to Bob's. Now I know I won't ever....

                        1. re: Gio

                          Hi Gio,
                          In the aftermath of The Blizzard of '78 I was living in unmarried bliss with my now DW in Belmont. I'd wrenched my back shoveling and was playing King Tut, languishing on the couch in front of the fireplace for a couple of days. As the roads had improved on day three of the blizzard, she ask if I had any cravings for take-out and what would that be? For some reason this North Shore boy said that he'd love some fried clams. For a person who's never hid his light under a bushel basket it was all I could do to keep a straight face, thank her profusely and eat enthusiastically every single last bite of the clam strips my Land-locked Lass had brung me from the Fresh Pond Ho Jo's

                          Of course, very shortly there after I introduced her to the joys of fully belly clams. After many years of wedded bliss and, basically, not being that good a person I jab her about it now and again. Especially when amongst a group who haven't been regaled with it for the third of fourth time.

                          Happy New Years,

                          BTW, and out of curiosity, I wonder if there are Hounds out there that won't eat full belly clams but will devour raw oyster. And if so, how does that work?

                          1. re: Harp00n

                            I eat fullo-belly clams, but I generally don't eat raw, or even cooked, oysters. I know, it's kinda weird.

                            1. re: Shooley

                              Hi Shooley,
                              Not so much - do you eat steamers?
                              Oyster raw definitely are an acquired taste and one that I do plead guily to.

                              I think, with some people, it's a carriy over the idea of even eating fried ones.

                              A perfectly fried plate of nice plump oysters is every bit the equal of fried clams, IMO.


                              1. re: Harp00n

                                And a oyster Po'Boy might even be better than a fried clam roll (Blasphemy!).

                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                  where to get one locally? i know RedBones had one on the lunch menu......

                                  1. re: ScubaSteve

                                    Sorry, I get them when in New Orleans or visiting my daughter in Austin or even my bro in Las Vegas. At least I get clams any time I want; just go dig 'em.

                        2. re: Harp00n

                          Hey Harp: Wrong usage of the word penultimate. And clam strips? Bobs? HoJos? WTF? Tongue in cheek, DudeBro.!

                          1. re: Big Fat Moe

                            Did I have a brain cramp or what???
                            Some Lit Major I am!
                            I obviously meant, but didn't write, "ultimate" clam shack.
                            That's it, I'm going back to clean & sober in the mornings!


                        3. re: Big Fat Moe

                          Yup, good clam strips. Also go to Flo's for dogs, the original location.

                        4. re: ErmineLair

                          clam STRIPS?!?!? Paleeze!!! you should gone to the parking lot of the trading post and had 4 or 5 dogs at Flo's

                        5. I was in Portsmouth yesterday visiting a customer. over the bridge we went and took the customer to lunch at Bobs...Giant lobster roll no mayo, dipped in butter, 2 clam cakes, fries and a bottle of water. He had a whole belly fried clam plate, a cup of chowder and a soda. Whole thing cost me $60. The food was great. My lobster roll was definitely fresh. The clam cakes tasted like they were supposed to. I tried a fried clam it was great also. So I come to several conclusions...1) As we get older our memories get idealized so something that once seemed mythic has to fail to live up to that as we get older. 2) You had a bad day. and 3) You are unaware of how expensive clam/lobster shacks/huts are all over New England. Bob's is no worse or better than any up the maine cost, out at the Cape, in Southern RI or on the CT coast. Maybe we will see some relief this summer/spring as the lobster market has completely imploded but so far the restaurants seem intent on making some margin at the expense of the slower traffic.

                          16 Replies
                          1. re: late to dinner

                            Cannot agree with that last post. I went to Bob's about a month ago, with two friends. The meat in the lobster roll was dried out, definitely not very fresh, and the clams were incredibly greasy, with an off-taste, like maybe old oil. In this case the unusually small portions were a blessing!
                            Will not go back.

                            1. re: late to dinner

                              LTD, two points.
                              First, seafood shacks are often a lot cheaper the further downeast one travels in Maine, ie 6 buck lobster rolls and 5 buck clam rolls. WTF is a clam strip?
                              Second, the boat price of lobster is back up to just over $5 per pound. The lobstermen are pissed because all their gear is out of the water.

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                Passa - a "clam strip" is a fried piece of clam laking the stomach.
                                To be avoided at all costs.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  What do they do with all the bellies? Is this some lo cal diet trick?

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    In a world apart from mine there are folks who will not eat this wonderment. Go figure. God only knows what's done with the discards. I don't.

                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                      the strips are usually cut from larger clams that would otherwise not be fried and eaten whole, usually quahogs or other "chowder clam.'

                                      1. re: ScubaSteve

                                        Jeesum Crow, bub! Any damn fools knows that fried clams is soft shell clams and big quohogs (chokers) is bait!

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          i grind fresh quahogs for chowders and some sauces. and i know of quite a few that use them for clam cakes.

                                          1. re: ScubaSteve

                                            Seriously, I go out at spring tides and gather huge hard shell clam locally called "hen clams" and make clams casino or chowders. Where I live soft shell clams are much more common ($1.50 a lb if ya don't dig 'em yourself) than quohogs.
                                            But in any case, Bob's is a tourist trap.

                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                              People who have never eaten fresh, whole clams eat strips, as they are available frozen. The less said about that the better. I once forced a whole belly clam on a good friend who insisted she only ate strips (at the Sea Basket in Wiscasset). She's now reformed.
                                              As to Bob's-- I've tried 3 times over the last maybe 12 years and it always was a trap.

                                              1. re: mjoyous

                                                I have tried whole clams at the sea basket and many many other places yet still do not like them. I eat fresh strips not the frozen ho-jo type but the ones at places like the sea basket which are not frozen but fresh. They are not fried clams with the bellies removed but are large quohog clams sliced up. They also are not rubbery. I find their texture much more appealing then the mushy fat bellies full of black who knows what... But to each their own. Why criticize what people like/dislike?? I thought this was about good/bad food regardless what it is. When someone posts about good/bad hotdogs, people dont start criticizing that hotdogs are a low food form that shouldnt be mentioned and that sausage is what the cool people eat! Also i find the "neck" part of a whole clam to be much more rubbery/chewy then any strip ive had... And dont say i have only had bad whole clams, i have tried them at many place throughout maine in ma as they often come with seafood platters i like to order. I usually eat 1-2 and leave the rest or give them to someone else at the table.

                                              2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                Hey Markie,
                                                Hen Clam is the local Maniac name for the Atlantic Surf Clam
                                                (Spisula solidissima) oh wise one. And that's exactly what they're used for, along with being the primary "source" for clam strips also sushi and the now politically incorrect ashtray. The ironic things is that although the naysayers for full bellies mentioned that as their major objection some have a distaste for the necks specifically. Guess what? The neck, tongue or foot, as it's called, is where the clam strips come from!. :-)

                                                Happy New Years,

                                                1. re: Harp00n

                                                  I can still almost taste the wholebellied goodness in Upstate, NY. The day our fishmonger, Ezra, brought our pails we made sure we had fresh oil in the fry-o-later and plenty of Cain's tartar sauce. A few ice cold St. Pauli drafts and a finer meal a millionaire's money could not buy !

                                                  1. re: Harp00n

                                                    when i get whole bellies on a platter i often end up eating the necks and tossing the bellies!

                                                      1. re: hargau

                                                        Yes, and I'll be the matching book end on the other side please! :-)

                                    2. It appears this thread has gotten slightly off track with regards to the original topic. I think the matter of who prefers what type or “part” of fried clam to be comparable to those who love caviar vs those who abhor it or those who prefer a porterhouse over those who prefer a filet.

                                      Let’s please end this and get back to the topic on hand, is it generally acknowledged that Bob’s has gone downhill and, if so, why? Is it because they became too “touristy” or now the focus is more on their new place, Robert’s.

                                      Has anyone tried Robert’s btw??

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: bewley

                                        Have been to Roberts several times. It is pretty good for what it is. A nice space and a nice big bar. Menu has lots of seafood selections. Oysters on the half shell are nice and fresh and briney. Entrees and salads etc are good. It is touristy- they sell alot of lobster related gifts-tee shirts etc. But what do you expect- Kittery is a touristy place.
                                        We have never had a problem with Bob's Clam Hut. Maybe it is better in the summer. Good fried clams, fish and lobster rolls. I don't understand how anyone can complain about condiments in foil packets, busing their own food etc It is a shack, mostly takeout, not a restaurant per se.

                                        1. re: bewley

                                          decent raw selections although the quality of shucking can be variable.

                                        2. Went to Bob's a couple of weeks ago and found it to be just fine. I have never been disappointed with their lobster roll and I personally believe that both their haddock sandwich and haddock fish and chips to be one of the best in Maine. I have never tasted better haddock.

                                          1. Seems like we're not getting very far into Maine, here. Bob's is iffy, somedays good other days not so. I agree that Robert's just up the road is better. El's further up the road in Cape Neddick used to be real good, but I haven't been there in quite awhile. Mike's (maybe a different name now.), on rt. 1 in Moody is good, get there early
                                            I spend my Maine time in the Bath area now. Gilmore's is really good, it's a lobster pound with take out. It's a little hard to find, in the west side, off of rt.1 before you hit the bridge, down behind an garage, next to a CVS(?). Court street.but by far, the absolute best clams I've ever eaten, and I've been hooked on clams for 50+ years, was at J.P. Maxwell's on Front St. in downtown Bath. I bet they thought I was pretty weird coming in twice a day for my fix! There's a place across the river in Wiscassett that's good too, but I can't for the life of me remember the name.
                                            Happy hunting.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: vthick

                                              You're probably thinking of The Sea Basket and it is one of the best Mid-Coast options on Rte. 1.


                                              Sea Basket
                                              303 Old Bath Rd, Wiscasset, ME 04578

                                              1. re: vthick

                                                El's closed two years ago. Mike's has expanded but is not really any good.The best casual place for lobster and all kinds of seafood, especially for families, is Fisherman's Catch in Wells. Great place, inexpensive.