Search for the elusive fried clam - Neptune's Net
Being from Massachusetts I have given up looking for the perfect fried clam in So Cal. Nothing here will ever compare to the places of my childhood like the Mattapoisett Chowder House on the south coast of MA or the Red Wing Diner about a mile north of Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. First, most places don't believe in bellies. Clams have them so why not fry them along with the strips. However almost all of the places that do use the bellies, fancy up the batter so much you can hardly taste the clam. My thought on this was they want to give the clam some reverence to justify charging $20 for five clams. [Menemsha, where Beechwood is now, was one such place] Second, you can't get a New England style Clam/Lobster/Hot Dog Bun here. This is a bun which has no crust on the sides allowing you to slather butter and herbs on the side and toast on the grill to perfection.
Knowing all this, I'm still looking for the best of what LA has to offer. So when a fellow Massite suggested Neptune's Net I jumped. Sunday my GF and I headed up the PCH to Zuma Beach for the prerequisite playing the sand and surf, then headed another 10 miles north on the PCH to Neptune's Net. The place looks like a seafood place should; couple of shacks hastily put together with a large front porch with commanding views of the Pacific across the PCH with nothing but picnic tables to sit at. You start at the coolers to pick a drink with an interesting selection of beverages in nothing smaller than quart bottles. They are a Pepsi house so GF had Sierra Mist since she was driving and I was a little overwhelmed with the selection, everything from New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale to Bud light but was disappointed they only had something like Bud light on tap. I chose an Anchor Steam to go with the meal. Getting to the first counter to order I find the menu says they only have clam strips and no rolls. My heart sinks, but we push forward. I order the strips and shrimp plate with a side of slaw and GF has fish and chips plate and tries to order a dozen peel and eat shrimp and is told to go to the other building to order the fresh seafood. She does and 2 minutes later her shrimp are done and we look for a place to sit and wait for the rest of our order. Well there isn't one. It is so crowded all seats in the shack and on the porch were taken. We decide to go across the parking lot to the picnic area they have set up which has better views of the pacific and a gaggle of surfers in the water but less protection from the elements. There we wait for the rest of the order and wait some more. 25 minutes later it's ready. To their credit, it was all freshly cooked a moment before serving. I bring it across the lot where GF is waiting with peel and eat shrimp untouched, now cold, and we dig in.
The thing about clam strips is they are small, overcook easily and can quickly turn to the texture and flavor of a pencil eraser. [If you want proof checkout Quality Seafood's fried clams in Redondo Beach] But these were the biggest strips I'd ever seen and they weren't overcooked and might have gone very well in a roll with a little tarter sauce and lemon. Also the shrimp were cooked nicely and had more of a breaded coating than the clams making them crispy. The cocktail sauce didn't have enough Horseradish but it was decent enough. the cole slaw was crispy without too much mayo but not enough vinegar and the fries were nothing to write home about but were ok. GF's Fish was lightly battered and fine [I prefer english style though] and the peel and eat shrimp were good. They had hot sauce and Malt vinegar, but bottles had to be pilfered from other peoples tables which can be awkward
One thing I discovered is climate makes a big difference. In New England, the evenings are hot an humid helping to preserve fried food's properties. Here right on the beach, the food got very cold very fast. I do want to go back to try the scallops, steamers and when the mood strikes Lobster. Also next time we will know to time the fresh seafood order better with the fired order.
Total damage around $45 [beware prices on the website are old and do not resemble current prices]
42505 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Malibu, CA 90265 (County Line)
Phone: (310) 457-3095
Although a little high in prce, I found the amount and quality of the food to be really good! I Actually perfered the thinner batter on the fish and chips they had instead of the thick crust that is on Ye Olde Kings Head. Also, the peel and eat Shrimp were huge and tasted wonderful!!!
I agree on the fries being average, the cocktail sauce needing a bit more horseradish and the cole slaw being fresh, but a touch bland.
Nevertheless, it beats out the other similar places closer to me, the shacks in San Pedro, Quality Seafood and Captain Kidds, both in Redondo... But part of me is SO glad that I don't have such yummy fried fish so close to me...
I didn't see any "steamers" and they seemed to only have Manila Clams in their display but they did have "East coast Lobsters" as well as west coast ones and I'm hoping that the lack of ipswich clams might be a seasonal/red tide thing. I called them just now and they said they had steamers, so I'll have to look again next time I'm up there.
Patrick, great report. When we do the trip up to Santa Barbara, we may just have to stop here on the way back...
BTW, I recall seeing something online about a place to either get and/or make those special rolls (I have a great picture of my lobster roll in Castine, ME, that I will send offline.
You are making me hungry..!
That would be King Arthur Flour's New England Bun Pan for $40 and that would lead down a slippery slope of having to buy Ipswich clams and the going price for a gallon shipped is $230. Then, I would have to get a deep fryer and it would be over. Weight Watchers would definitely revoke my membership
A co-worker suggested Reel Inn might have Clam Rolls with bellies, so it may be time for another trip up north.
I'm also from MA.food I miss those hotdog rolls too. I plan on bringing some back when I go back east. I also miss Kelly's roast beef. I have been to Neptune's Net and enjoyed the food,I had shrimp and clam strips.I have tried some Italian Bakeries but they dont compare to ones in North End.
as has become sort of well known lately, the hungry cat on sunset&vine has amazing lobster rolls. not being a new englander, i have no point of reference as to the authenticity of them, but i must say they're quite amazing indeed. it's as close as you can come to a new england style seafood place now that menemsha has closed...
My mother lives in California and I send her a gallon of frying clams (bellies & all) every 6 months or so. It costs me less than $200.oo including shipping, and the place ships them in 8 one pound containers so she can put them in the freezer. Not bad for 12.50 a plate.