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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:

                  http://www.kellysroastbeef.com/menu.html

                  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!

                    2. Celebrity pizza in Watertown last night
                      1 Fried shrimp plate with french fries and coleslaw
                      1 fried scallop plate with onion rings and coleslaw
                      2 slices of pizza
                      2 large cokes
                      3 javaberry cones with jimmies

                      42.00

                      Delicious.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: macadamianut

                        Yeah, but Shrimp are cheap, Celebrity's Pizza is margina, depending on where the scallops are from they can also be cheap. No lobster roll, etc. If you ordered the exact same a s above I bet you would end up more or less at the same price point. I'm not even usually a huge DJ defender, but your meal is not close to apples to apples.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          I checked the celebrity menu:
                          3 dip small soft serves $3.35x3=10.05
                          3 bottled waters 1.75x3=5.26
                          sm clam $13.95
                          clam roll $9.50
                          sm fry $2.40
                          sm onion ring $4.15

                          Come to $45.31

                          They didnt have the lobster roll adn the fries were normal rather then sweet potato but is it worth the $30 difference?

                          1. re: hargau

                            Yes it was, because you didn't order anything for my daughter (she had the lobster salad from Dairly Joy), and I would gladly pay $30 for her to eat. If you're going to do a comparison, please at least make it fair.

                            The prices above are not that different from Dairy Joy:

                            Small clams: $13.95 vs. $15.00
                            3 dip cones: $10.05 vs. $11.55
                            Small onion rings: $4.15 vs. $4.75

                            So when you decide between, say, Grill 21 and Abe and Louie's for a steak, do you make your decision based on a dollar difference in prices? I suspect you make a decision based on which you like better and convenience.

                            I was in Wayland and heading to Lincoln; Dairy Joy was right there. And let's not forget that their clams are really, really good. I have not tried Celebrity; if their clams are as good as Dairy Joy's, I certainly will try them when it's convenient to do so.

                            1. re: Blumie

                              Never mind that most places charge in the neighborhood of $20 for a lobster roll or salad. So you are within $10 of celebrity as well. And let's be honest, with Walden Pond nearby and the fact after all that you are in Weston (Weston ain't Watertown) it's a tad more expensive, but not insanely so.

                              Heck, nevermind that I find Celebrity really depressing inside. It's worth the $10 for the outdoor picnic tables alone ;-)

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                Thanks for the support. Let's not oversell Dairy Joy: that parking lot setting is not the most attractive location in the area. But as you point out, Walden Pond is nearby, as is the relatively undiscoverd Mount Misery area (which is right on Route 117, about a mile or so west of Dairy Joy on the right hand side shortly after crossing Route 126; there is a small parking lot that leads to beautiful hiking trails, most of which are off-leash-dog friendly).

                              2. re: Blumie

                                Umm i think it was a fair comparision because i said the difference for the lobster roll was $30 and was questioning if that lobster from a can was worth $30??

                                I grew up on dairy joy and go there at least once a year. I would safely wager that i have eaten more times at dairy joy then most anyone on this forum.. So im not an anti-dairy joyer.... It is what it is...

                                basically im in agreement with your overall assesment and title. Its "very expensive"..

                                1. re: hargau

                                  It wasn't a lobster roll, it was a lobster salad.

                                  1. re: Blumie

                                    sorry i messed up that detail... I have never been to celebrity in my life so was simply making a comparision based on what others had recommended. Like striper said the lobster Salad is likely a $20 item most places so its really only about $10 over Celebrity prices and to me at least Celebrity is an unknown (and not in this location as far as convenience goes)

                            2. re: StriperGuy

                              I have eaten at Dairy Joy in Weston and I thought it was overpriced crap. I was shocked that they were serving such bad french fries and the fried scallops were average. The only decent thing at DJ is the ice cream. If I want a lobster roll I am not going to DJ. Celebrity pizza is easy, affordable and tasty for that summer type of fried food eating.

                          2. Was back at Dairy Joy yesterday for a small fried clams, small onion rings, and small javaberry twist. Delicious. It was $25 all in; well worth it IMHO.

                            I've never been able to find the Dairy Joy menu on line, so I took a couple of iphone photos while I was in line and have transcribed much of the menu (there were a couple of menu boards, including the ice cream board, the "combo" board and the specials board) that I did not get photos of). As noted in my initial post, most of the menu is best avoided, either because the food is not great (most of it is decently good, but not great) or because the prices are obnoxious (the deli-style Kayem franks that they buy at Costco and serve on a buttered and grilled New England-style roll are pretty darn good when covered with mustard, relish and onions, but at $3.35 falls into the obnoxiously-priced category). But I still can't resist stopping for their delicious clams, onion rings and soft serve.

                            The following prices do not include meals tax:

                            Super Cheeseburger (w/ fries) $9
                            Super Burger (w/ fries) $8.50
                            Cheeseburger $4.25
                            Hamburger $3.65
                            Frankfurt $3.35
                            Grilled Chicken Sandwich $6.25
                            Lobster Roll $16.50
                            Tuna Roll or Sandwich $6.25
                            Fried Chicken Sandwich $6.25
                            Fresh Fish Sandwich $7.25
                            Grilled Cheese $3.85
                            Grilled Cheese & Tomato $4.75
                            Chicken Supreme Sandwich $7.50
                            Fried Clams $15 (sm) / $24.50 (med) / $38 (lg)
                            Fried Clam Plate (w/ fries and slaw) $16.95 (half plate) / $24.95 (full plate)
                            Clam Roll $12.50
                            Chicken Fingers $8.25
                            Seafood Plate $21 (half plate) / $26.95 (full plate)
                            Scallops $12.95 (sm) / $19.95 (med) / $29.95 (lg)
                            Scallops Plate $15.95 (half plate) / $19.95 (full plate)
                            Shrimp $9.50 (sm) / $17.50 (med) / $28 (lg)
                            Shrimp Plate $12.95 (half plate) / $17.95 (full plate)
                            Fish 'n' Chips $11.95 (half plate) / $16.95 (full plate)
                            Onion Rings $5.50 (sm) / $6.75 (med)
                            French Fries $3.25 (sm) / $4.75 (med) / $9 (lg)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Blumie

                              And for comparison sake, here are the fried clam prices at Dairy Joy and some of the North Shore places. It makes me feel better that I'm not getting ripped off when I stop by Dairy Joy for a small fried clams, but also confirms the theory in my initial post that the prices for the larger sizes at Dairy Joy represent really poor values compared to what people normally expect (i.e., that the larger the size, the better the value).

                              Dairy Joy: $15 (sm) / $24.50 (med) / $38 (lg)
                              Woodman's: $14.95 (sm) / 19.95 (med) / 37.95 (lg)
                              Essex Seafood $14.95 (sm) / $17.95 (med) / $28.95 (lg)
                              The Clam Box $13.95 (sm) / $21.75 (lg)

                            2. I just wanted to stick my two cents in as well. After reading all of this post, I was getting super hungry for some fried clams so off to Dairy Joy for my lunch break (I work in a building in Waltham just looking over the reservior so its about 6 minutes to drive to DJ). When I got to Dairy Joy, I ordered the 1/2 clam plate ($16.95) and added some rings for $2 more BUT guess what ... They have increased all clam prices by 25% due to the "extordinarily high cost of whole belly clams." The server taking the order pointed out the sign and said it had just been implemented in the past few days.

                              The clams were excellent and the 1/2 plate was giant, right on par with a plate from Woodmans thought not quite as good.

                              To sum it up, 1/2 plate (add onion rings) and a raspberry lime rickey = $28. All in all, not bad given the giant size of the plate. And they have the best raspberry line rickies around, not too sweet and fresh lime! And I was too stuffed to get my usual Java Berry cone, oh well.

                               
                              1 Reply
                              1. re: smcbride3

                                Thanks for the update. That sign was not there on Sunday. As much as I like the place (as evidenced by this thread), given their already high prices, that surcharge would keep me away if their competitors do not follow suit. It's not that, if I have a hankering for clams, I'm going to bypass Dairy Joy and drive to Farnham's to save a few bucks, but it gets to the point where the gouging will just drive me away. Other hounds clearly already are at that point with respect to Dairy Joy; this would put me over the edge, too.