Norm's and Benjamin's, Attleboro area
Just got back from ten hot days in MA visiting my sister. We mostly grilled at home but did go out for seafood as I just don't get enough of it in Brooklyn NY where I live. We were hoping lobster prices were cheap but it wasn't the case, although they were a whole lot cheaper than the $9/lb in Brooklyn.
We ate at Norm's, next to Ocean Fresh, I think it's in South Attleboro. We ate there a few years ago and it was quite good. I had a "over 55" plate for a reduced price and I am on a budget. I guess Norm's thinks that people of a certain age don't have an appetite. I got the fried bay scallops (I really wanted whole belly clams but they wern't offered on the old timers menu.) There where ten scallops and a dozen fries, along with a condiment cup of marginal coleslaw. The scallops were tasty but they were some of the smallest I've ever seen. My sister had the clam plate, which was $14 and change and described as "running small." I tried one and they had good sweet flavor. It was basically disappointing but Norm's has a liquor licence now so I had beer. The service was perfunctory. Massachuetts 1, Brooklyn 0.
We went to Benjamins's, in Taunton (I think, I really don't know the hood) with my sister and my aunt, a few days later.
They apparently like this place and have eaten there many times before. There's what's akin to a early bird special we went for, starts at 3:30 pm unitl 5-ish. Benjamin's is very atttractive, with an elevator for disabled types (me) to the main dining room, one floor up. It's a typical soup to nuts NE dining experience for not much moola. I started with a G&t, which was nice and hearty. From a nothing special menu, the sister and aunt had prime rib. I had what turned out to be flavorless Atlantic salmon. I requested medium rare but was well done in reality. The fish came with a hot bread basket, which we didn't even open, ritz crackers with a fluffy cheese spread, a decent tossed salad with generic dressings (I had blue) forgettable rice pilaf, crunchy rice and frozen peas and carrots tossed in, and a sauce of roasted tomates and mango, which was mango chutney from the jar. Tasty but nothing special. Oh, also baby carrots, not seasoned and lukewarm. The prime rib looked like a nice cut, ample and done properly, but as an ex-chef, I cooked so much prime rib when I lived in CT that I couldn't bring myself to taste it.
Dessert choices were banana cream pie, grapenut pudding and lemon mousse. We had one of each and although I have fond memories of the pudding from my years in NE, this was the worse. It was served warm and watery. Everything was topped with fake whipped cream. The pie was the best of the three.
The service was great, prompt, friendly and professional. The dining room was buzzing with an older crowd.
I have to say it was a good deal for $13, $14 for the rib, but It reminded me of of so many places I have eaten in NE. Maybe I'm jaded for living and working as a chef in NYC for the last 20-some years. Please tell me things have changed up there. Forgive me for being at the least a bit snotty.
The next night we got some steamers from Ocean Fresh, $4 a lb; my sister does a clam boil with chorizo, potatoes, onions and lots of cayenne. This was by far the best meal we had. The steamers were full of flavor, sweet and quite good sized. I always liked the larger ones, anyway. Massachuetts 2, Brooklyn 0. We also had some outstanding local corn.
Never did get the lobster. And I guess you can't go home again.