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Jun 22, 2009 07:19 PM

Dairy Joy in Weston: Very Expensive, but ...

Ok, I'll resist the urge to say "worth it." Each of us needs to reach our own conclusion, and I know this place has many detractors. But tonight after taking my sweet four-year-old Labrador Retriever, Chloe, to the vet in Wayland with a suspected case of kennel cough (attention dog owners who use the dog run in the Southwest Corridor Park in the South End, I'm pretty sure that's where Chloe caught it, and it's highly contageous among dogs, although fortunately very treatable), I took my sweet nine-year-old daughter, Rebecca, to Dairy Joy for dinner. It was expensive, but it was very good.

It cost us $75 (yes, $75) cash (no credit cards, please) for:

1 small fried clams
1 clam roll
1 lobster salad
1 small onion ring
1 small sweet potato fries
3 bottles Poland Springs
3 small soft serve cones dipped in chocolate dip

Everything was delicious. I had the small clams and small onion rings. I was starving (having ingested less than 1,000 calories all day and having run 5-1/2 miles in the late afternoon), and scoffed down the clams (doused in tabasco sauce, which I keep in my car) in no time. I would have been happy to have more clams, but the onion rings more than filled me up. (In fact, I only ate about half of them.)

Rebecca had the lobster salad and the sweet potato fries. The lobster salad had large chunks of lobster on a bed of mixed greens with, I think, tomatoes and cucumbers. The lobster appeared to be too heavily dressed in mayo, but the couple of bites I had were sweet and delicious. I also enjoyed the sweet potato fries, which I never had had before at Dairy Joy.

For dessert, I had a coffee soft serve with chocolate dip. Yum.

Look, Dairy Joy is expensive. There is no denying that. And notwithstanding how well it does fried clams and onion rings, there are many misses on the menu, too. In fact, my experience tells me to pretty much avoid everything else on the menu. Don't go for the burgers or hot dogs or anything else (except that they do a credible lobster roll, even if it won't put Neptune or B&G out of business).

I also know from experience that ordering the small size portions usually is a better value than the larger ones. I usually get one small fried clam order for each person, and perhaps an extra one if there are, say, three or four of us splitting them. But if I'm by myself, I usually just get one small and some fries or onion rings to help fill me up. I suspect a really big eater will want a larger portion, but I can put away a decent amount of food, and I generally am happy with a small. (If I got a medium, I'd probably polish it off, and then feel sick afterwards!)

If you're not in the vicinity, I wouldn't recommend venturing out to Weston for Dairy Joy; it's not like driving up north for Farnhams or Essex Seafood (I think the clams are as good, but the overall experience is not.). But if you're in the western 'burbs with a hankering for some good clams, these guys do a mighty nice job with a fryolator!

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  1. I like Dairy Joy but that pricing seems high. Do you have a breakdown of each price?

    2 Replies
    1. re: robertlf

      I agree it does seem high, but that's what I paid. I know the small clams were $15 and that the three ice creams with dip were about $11.50. I suspect the lobster salad and clam roll added another $30 or so to the total. The sweet potato fries were $4.50; I suspect the onion rings were about the same. Add in three Poland Springs and tax (I don't remember if the posted prices include tax) and you can see how you can get to $75. (And by the way, I rounded down to $75; I think the actual total was closer to $78!)

      1. re: Blumie

        I have not been this year but if i recall from last year the onion rings are in the $7-8 range (maybe thats the large?). I always like to see what the price for large clams is every year.. Last year it was in the $32ish range.... That comes with no fries or anything too...

        The lobster meat they get in 5 gallon cans.

        sweet potato fries must be a new menu item, never noticed them there.

        I like the fish sandwich, one of the better bangs for the buck there too.

        Also like java-berry with the chocolate dip.

      1. re: hyde

        Or get your fried seafood and soft serve at Celebrity and pay half the price. Or get your fried seafood at Rincon Limeno and find some other delicious dessert in the area.

            1. re: robertlf

              East Boston? If your in the Weston area thats a pretty good drive. Might as well go to Essex at that point!

              1. re: robertlf

                Thanks. So their small clam is $1 less. Not that big a deal.

            2. re: Luther

              You guys are completely missing the point. First, eating at a restaurant always is more expensive than eating at home. Second, no matter where you eat, there probably is somewhere else where you could have gotten a less expensive meal. (In one place I go to in NYC's Chinatown, $3.50 gets me more food than I can eat.) And finally, sometimes one chooses where to eat based on where they are at the time; it's not always about driving 45 minutes to some other place.

              Dairy Joy is expensive, but I spent a lot less than many other places I might have gone instead. Since I was in Wayland, I could've gone to the Coach Grill and spent $300 for our dinner for three. Whether one receives value and whether one's meal is worth the price is an individual decision that we each need to make, not just at Dairy Joy, but at every restaurant we go to. (How many people are shocked that we all are more than happy to pay $7 for a hot dog at Speed's?)

              1. re: Blumie

                Thanks for the detailed report. At the risk of getting too far off track, I have to say though as a big fan of Coach Grill that absent a VERY expensive wine or numerous drinks, it would be pretty hard to spend $100 a person at Coach Grill. You can get a nice steak, salad and a drink or two and easily come in below $60 including tax and tip. Their steaks average under $30 and they have salads for $4. Without drinks you could do a very nice meal at the Coach Grill for $40ish a person.

          1. Thanks for the detailed report, giving the pros and cons for Dairy Joy.

            Out of curiosity, what happened to the extra clam roll and cone? Did the dog get an extra special treat?

            8 Replies
            1. re: beetlebug

              A friend had met us there for dinner!

              BTW, I'm embarrassed by my typo "scoffed" instead of "scarfed." Some might claim it was Freudian!

              1. re: Blumie

                While DJ was expensive, somehow, a meal for three for $75 seems a lot more reasonable. Especially with fried clams, which I love, but I always wince at the price. Plus, soft serve dessert to boot.

                (I kept picturing your daughter, feeding the dog bits of clams, sides and then the cone. It gave me a chuckle.)

                1. re: beetlebug

                  Visa would have descibed the evening as priceless. I'll put DJ on the to-do list, but bring my own water.

                  1. re: JohnnyQ1960

                    They have a cooler of tap water with little plastic cups on the counter.

                    1. re: pollystyrene

                      When i was young and we went there, they used to charge for tap water. It was like .20 or something! They used to also never have any of the condiments on the counter. When they gave you the food the person would ask everyone "do you need salt or ketchup?" then they would give you a couple packets if you did.

                      1. re: hargau

                        Yeah, they used to charge something like $.25 for the cup if you wanted water. I'm not sure if they still do that, and in general they're much more pleasant about things like extra tartar sauce and putting out the condiments than they used to be.

                        1. re: Blumie

                          On a recent visit, we weren't charged for water. Maybe we inadvertently stole it.

                          1. re: pollystyrene

                            no this was years ago that they did that.. Now they have a cooler of water on the counter. no charge.

            2. A large 'box' of fried clams at Farnhams in Essex is almost $35.00, inclusive of tax. Just for reference.

              1. I find $75 for a meal at DJ very expensive! I'm often tempted to swing by--I used to take my kids there without a second thought, after a tramp around the pond--but I'd be horrified at those prices. C'mon, this is a fun place, but not fine dining! Does no one see the irony of charging white tablecloth prices for a drive-in experience? Were there any working pick-up trucks in the parking lot?

                There are so few of these original businesses and farms left, ( RIP Willow Pond) especially in toney towns like Weston, and we should do what we can to preserve them, but sadly I won't be stopping next time I'm in the area.

                8 Replies
                1. re: cassis

                  Of course they did order the most expensive things on the menu. I've always felt DJ was a bit of a gouge, but honestly where can you get a lobster salad, Clam Roll, and small order of clams for small $ these days at a place that has any quality at all. I just looked at the Kelly's Roast Beef Menu and the same order there would easily come in at $68-70 before tax by my (nerdy) calculation. Lighten up folks, cut the OP some slack.

                  Here's the Kelly's menu and they have prices if you click around:


                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    Great points, the $75 wasn't for burgers and javaberry cones. I have always found the outrage toward DJ's prices to be misplaced on this board. They are a bit on the high side, but not completely out of line with comparable places as pointed out here. They aren't hurting for business, so there must be some decent value there.

                    Please tell me where I can get a "white table cloth" fine dining meal for $25/pp. I will drive my working pick-up truck right over there and give them my business...

                  2. re: cassis

                    Ok, the place is expensive as we all have acknowledged, but $25/person is hardly "white tablecloth prices."

                    1. re: cassis

                      I'm horrified! It's a roadside food stand! That used to mean cheap - really cheap eats! When I was a kid 75.00 spent at a road side food stand would feed the entire family plus visiting relatives and a bunch of neighbor kids!
                      What has happened to the world? Why are we so accepting of paying 8.00 for hamburger when you could buy the meat for 2.00 in the market? 24.00 for fried clams? INSANITY! REFUSE TO PURCHASE THEM TILL THE PRICE GOES WAY... WAY DOWN! I love lobster clams and scallops as much as anyone but I won't pay the outrageous prices charged for them. I love road side food stands they are a fun and wonderful memory of childhood but they would not have been if my parents had to pay 38.00 for a large size box of clams! You could bring home three bags of groceries for that much money! Society needs to put the breaks on this outrageous price gouging of food!!! No way in the world I'd pay that much money for seafood at a shack on the side of the road! It's not like clams or lobsters are an endangered species - they are ocean insects that breed like rabbits so I can't understand the crazy cost to buy them!!!

                            1. re: ChocolateMilkshake

                              "don't go" is right....they are ridiculously expensive for something that isn't all that great. Better seafood at better prices can be had at many other places. They have the market cornered in that area, and they take advantage of it!