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Fried clams

I know I'll miss alot but then it seems next to the infamous fruit cake going around the world, fried clams (or fried clam roll or lobster roll, too) remain an alluring item on a menu sure to disappoint, especially when everyone else is talking about their great meals.

Clam chowder is for another post; that, too, seems to be lost or at best two things come to mind if you dare-"what were they thinking" or obviously that chef has never put a toe in the water up near Maine-

Back to fried clams-they get sweeter as the season progresses and Ipswich does have a meaning-easily ignored-strips or whole belly, fresh or frozen, taken from what water when, and fried in what oil, and the bread for the roll certainly matters, too, as does the tartar sauce, etc. and the rest of the typical afterthought -fries sometimes, soggy vegetable and if they are really going great guns-lemon.

I travel up the Connecticut coast from Milford to New Haven and my optimistic or foolish nature brings me to order any and all of the above from time to time. I swear I saw that same fruitcake on the menu at most of these places next to fried clams or was it just a de ja vu I was having? That can't be since my wallet was noticeably lighter as I left.

Any experts out there who can contribute what probably is the obvious but unfound?


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  1. Whole belly at Turk's in Savin Rock. Eat in the self serve section (to the right as you walk in, not worth the higher price in the server section).
    We dirve there every other week from Trumbull. Chic's and Jimmie's are not worth eating and much more expensive.

    1. I have to agree on Chick's, but have no recent opinion on Jimmie's.
      Try The Glenwood on Whitney Ave in Hamden, their whole bellies have been great

      6 Replies
      1. re: mmalmad

        lived in Hamden 18 years and regularly ate at Glenwood, BUT the OP was specific about Milford to New Haven on the coast. That means: Milford, West Haven, New Haven.
        Anything north of the coast-Hamden, Orange, North Haven is off topic, so I didn't bother mentioning Glenwood or Dino's, etc.

        1. re: bagelman01

          Please go off topic and expand this to fried clams anywhere in Connecticut. I yearn. I hunger, I search in vain. I get my fried clam fix for the year when I go to the Vineyard in August and go to the Bite. A classic. In Connecticut, and I don't get to the shore line clam shacks and the only barely acceptable, fried clams, I have found inland are on the appetizer menu at Max Oyster Bar. But the portion is sparse, and they seem to hold back the big juicy bellies. Please tell me I am missing some place. TIA

          1. re: chrism23

            The best are close to the shore,
            Lenny and Joes
            Clam Castle (Guilford)

            Not fond of most inland places. See: http://www.weloveclams.com/clam_kit.html
            for a report of the great clams and fry kit delivered from Diggers Choice in Wareham, MA.

            These were some of the best fried clams I've ever had. I was present for this 2005 fry, eat and report

            Clam Castle
            1324 Boston Post Rd, Madison, CT 06443

            1. re: bagelman01

              @bagelman01- Very Cool web site. Thanks

        2. Lenny's in Branford has very good fried clams and oysters.

          205 S Montowese St, Branford, CT 06405

          1 Reply
          1. re: junescook

            Forget Lenny's in Branford was there this week and the clams were terrible. Hugh clams that were extremely tough.
            Where they found soft shell clams that were this large is beyond me. Adding to the experience was a bad clam. If anyone has ever bitten into a bad clam you know the awful taste that lingers with one all day long. Try any other place listed on this post.

          2. Anyone with advice for the coast south of New Haven?

            My wife was craving fried clams, so we went to Overton's in Norwalk yesterday. They were unimpressive, but we knew that on the way there. We also knew that SoNo Seafood on the other side of the bridge would be about the same.

            Sadly, we agree with trumbull1 - nothing around here even resembles Maine.

            6 Replies
            1. re: SteveSCT

              SteveSCT, I had some pretty good ones at Savin Rock Roasting, I was at the West Haven location, but they have one in Stratford across from The Dock at exit 33. They make a good RI clam chowder as well

              1. re: mmalmad

                Thanks for that tip, mmalmad. I'm also a fan of RI clam chowder, which is hard to find.

                1. re: mmalmad

                  I wasn't a fan of Savin Rock's(Stratford) clams., but I did have excellent ones at Flipside (of all places) in Fairfield. Stowe's in West Haven has never disappointed me, either

                2. re: SteveSCT

                  This thread reminded me of a story from a few years back in the NYT where the reporter drove and ate fried clams all the way from CT to ME. He found pretty good clams at Lenny's in Branford.


                  1. re: SteveSCT

                    Westfair Fish and Chips in Westport.

                    It's tucked in a nondescript strip mall, behind another nondescript strip mall, out of view from the road. It's tiny, and the atmosphere almost non-existant. But they have really good fried seafood.

                    1. re: plien69

                      was about to recommend Westfair as well

                  2. The Glenwood in Hamden does whole belly Ipswich clams, and good lobster rolls and onion rings.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Veggo

                      Stowes in West Haven...a block or two down from chicks

                      1. re: jesoda

                        I love Stowe's, BUT they ONLY accept CASH.

                        This is just an FYI for those who have never been there.

                        1. re: jesoda

                          BUMP TIME>>>>>>>>>>>>>
                          Took some friends from the midwest to Stowe's for lunch today.
                          This year fried seafood boats including cole slaw or french fries are still $10
                          Lobster Rolls are $12.50 Hot or cold styles
                          Fried seafood Rolls are $5
                          Clams, whole belly or strip
                          Scallops...hear that Kattyeyes?
                          Calimari (labeled squid)

                          The best value on the menu is the Fried Lobster Meat.
                          They take a whole lobster tail, bread and fry and serve on a toasted split roll for $12.50-14 market price.

                          All prices include tax.

                          All food is delicious

                          Cash Only, rustic outdoor and very limited indoor service--place order and pay at counter get a number, everything breaded and cooked to order.

                          So rustic that there's a port-a-potty in the yard, no rest rooms.
                          Directly across from the beach. Closed Mondays. Tues-Sat 11-7, Sun til 6. Last orders must be placed 15 minutes before closing. They do not stretch the times. The entire staff works one shift open to close.

                          1. re: bagelman01

                            I heard that loud and clear, bagelfriend. :) Those prices are insane--how do they do it? Oh, wait. One word: port-a-potty. Serious biz, sounds great.

                            1. re: kattyeyes

                              Low overhead, been in the same shack for years and own the land. Basic costs are food, labor and utilities. stone parking lit, picnic tables. no real decor, refrigerated trailers for walkins...........
                              great food, low prices, limited hours, just cross the two lane road and you're on the beach.....
                              When I was a kid we used to go to their former location about a mile away.

                              BTW>>>the prices are the same as last year.
                              NO alcohol, 12oz Foxon Park glass bottle soda or 20 ounce bottle water $1.50

                              1. re: bagelman01

                                Love Foxon Park, too. I must tell my mom.

                            2. re: bagelman01

                              Clam update.............
                              Took wife and MIL to Stowe's for lunch today.
                              Whole Belly Clams are crossed off the menu boards....
                              Seems all the storms this past week (aftermath of the first hurricane of the season that landed in NC) has created a shortage of fresh whole belly clams. Owner says that suppliers expect normal availability in about a week.

                        2. Wood's Plymouth waterfront. My Dad took me there in the 60's. My son has taken me there for Mother's Day. BEST fried clams IN THE WORLD...still.

                          1. On a July trip to New England to see old friends in New Hampshire and Maine, my real motive was fried clams and lobster. The holy trinity of fried clams appears to be The Clam Box in Ipswich, Ma., Wodman's of Essex, Ma. and J.T. Farnams of Essex, Ma. I had planned to do the Clam Box which seemed to be the favorite by various reviews. However, my wife fell asleep in our hotel room and I didnt awaken her untill 7pm. It turns out that the Clam Box closes at 8pm, therefore we decided upon J.T. Farnams in Essex, Ma. which was open untill 9pm.

                            The disappointment remains with me as a foodaholic. I spent $20 for a medium box of fried clams that were overcooked, crispy and tastless. Why I did not return them and request lightly fried clams that are sqishily flavorful remains a mystery today. I am hoping I received an "accident" from a distracted fry cook, surly these clams cant be typical of such a famous place?

                            Later on the trip, I had some fried clams at 'The Angler" in Searsport, Me and they were wonderful. The owner said the Boston Globe had said they had the best fried clams in New England.

                            We had lobster rolls in The Beach Plum in N. Hampton, NH and they were worth the stiff price....just great. We cooked our own 3lb lobsters in Belfast, Me. and they were as good as it gets, cooked in seawater. Young's Lobster Pound, in Belfast is excellent for buying seafood to cook youself or eat it cooked there. Back in NC, I miss the unique New England seafood but we have BBQ dont we? Try Okie Dowkie in Swananoa, NC, it rocks. Good eating.

                            Lobster Pound
                            157 Rt 6A, Orleans, MA 02653

                            The Beach Plum
                            50 Beach Plum Lane, Menemsha, MA 02552

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: travelholic

                              Next time, make it a tiny further downeast. We just had Anglers last Saturday on the way home from a blues festival in Rockland. A few mile miles further is Becky's. On the Blue Hill Penninsula, is the Badaguce Lunch, in Brooksville, a James Beard Award winner. Great site, eating next to the Bagaduce reversing falls. In Ellsworth, Jordan's Snack Bar. And one of our favorites, Tracey's in Sullivan; although they were below par last week. Next time send me an email before hand. We have done fried clam Safaris w/ other hounds, w/ a cooler full of beer. You are the DD, however.

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                Thanks for the tips. Will try them all on our next trip. The clam Safari sounds fun...will need some oysters on the half shell as a palate cleanser.

                              2. re: travelholic

                                You might want to post this on the Northern New England Board as well, as New Hampshire and Maine are not part of this board

                                1. re: travelholic

                                  Should have started at Woodman's.I will try the Angler for lobster roll's try Fred's I think it's Bath Maine?

                                2. The assistance is terrific but one theme really affects all of these establishments assuming they are legit and that is the clams get "sweeter" as the season progresses. So, my original post included mention of - just when is the season? And aren't these comparisons based to some degree on the time of year?

                                  Also, I ordered a plate of clams with a hot dog roll on the side-pretty slick thinking, best of both worlds but they charged me for the roll-I got the evil eye from my better half so I counted the stuffed fish on the wall or seagulls looking in the window laughing at me.

                                  I wish I could give them their due but it was a long time ago, the restaurant is on the water in Branford or Guilford and I stopped going there that night.

                                  14 Replies
                                  1. re: trumbull1

                                    Also very good is Dino's in North Haven. Exit 12 off of 91N, then about a mile headed north, on the left hand side. Big portions, very fresh and crisp. Not at all greasy.

                                    1. re: trumbull1

                                      I'd suggest asking your server if the whole clams are running "small" or "large" that day, If they are small, ask for them more lightly done. Lenny & Joe's Madison & Westbrook is always spot-on. On another note, I recently saw a clip on local CT news about a local clam-shack type place owned and operated by a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef. It looked fantastic, but I don't recall any of the details. Hoping some clam-lovin' foodie on this board might know the place?

                                      Lenny & Joe's
                                      Westbrook, CT, Westbrook, CT

                                      1. re: monafelice

                                        Yes, me again. The posts have been very helpful; unfortunately every trip I take ends up being in the wrong direction. Recently we were headed to the land of fried clams-anywhere near water-but the traffic stopped on 95 just beyond Bridgeport and we took a minor detour to North Hampton/Great Barrington. I know we have places around here but we wanted somewhere an hour from Trumbull but that's not the question. Back in the day we'd go from Burlington Vermont to South Burlington for a cup of coffee and end up in Boston but that was...

                                        I still want to know what is the season for clams? If its the wrong end of the season it seems to me none of these places are serving sweet fresh clams. Boston had beer; somehow we thought that mattered-we wanted to drink beer and yell at the Bruins-the idea that we had a drive ahead of us was lost in our college confused brains.

                                        Now, like all or most of you time and money matter here and the range of great to horrific is noticed and logic prevails (sometimes) and if its not the season...?


                                        1. re: trumbull1

                                          <<I still want to know what is the season for clams? If its the wrong end of the season it seems to me none of these places are serving sweet fresh clams. >>

                                          I eat fresh clams year-round and have never noticed that there's a good or bad time of year to eat them.

                                          1. re: harrie

                                            The old rule of thumb was not to eat calms in months with an r in them

                                            1. re: hacksaw55

                                              I don't know about "Calms", BUT the adage has nothing to do with clams, it is about oysters.

                                              "There's a well-known adage that oyster eaters should steer clear of eating the beloved bivalve during months that don't contain the letter "R." According to oyster authority Robb Walsh, oysters that grow in water above 65ºF are at higher risk of deadly bacterias Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus. "The risks aren't really that great, but neither are the rewards," he writes in his book, Sex, Death & Oysters. "Summer oysters, like Winter tomatoes, are out-of-season foods."

                                              Also, in Europe, Oysters used to brood their young in summer, not so in the USA

                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                Having penned a series of culinary pamphlets several years ago for a large utility company...we dug deep to understand the rule outlined accurately above...

                                                On the other hand...the combination of red tide and sewage overflow...moved the large company to take no chances on anyone arguingor suing them about whether it was oysters...they just said any shellfish out of Long island during the summer months should be avoided...

                                                Same mentality as all proteins need to reach 165 or you will die.

                                                (did you realize that most if the beach communities in long island...settled over the past 100 years have little to no ssewage cotrol and many are just cesspoolks below cottages that leach down to the water...the underliying granite shelf many of the houses sit on juts out onto long island...)

                                                1. re: jms123

                                                  I am well aware of the poor sanitation along the shoreline. Nowhere down thread did it say the clams were harvested in Long Island Sound. I really don't care about the utility company and the propaganda they issued years ago.

                                                  I merely responded to the misquote of an adage regarding oysters and its misapplication to clams.

                                                  In fact the quotation goes back to Europe long before the oyster industry developed here in New England.

                                                  But I remain 'Happy as a clam in the mud at high tide" Another adage often quoted only in part which is why no one undersatands why a clam would be happy.

                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                    Bage, some thought on the phrase "Happy as a clam in the mud at high tide" which indeed no one seems to understand. Here's my take.

                                                    It's not that open clams appear to be smiling --thus the affiliation of happiness with clams. Rather, high tide provides clams protection from predators, which accounts for that broad bivalvian grin. :)

                                                    1. re: stamfoodie

                                                      You got it 100% correct. At high tide the people harvesting clams don't have the reach to bend over and dig in the mud to extract the clams, the people would drown.

                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                        which means the clams dig high tide!

                                                        ok, that's it. I'll clam up.

                                            2. re: harrie

                                              same here.......they may sweeten/fatten a bit as the summer progresses and food supply becomes more prevalent..but the off-putting bit is you risk more red tides

                                          2. re: monafelice

                                            If you saw the same clip that I did, the place is Fay's in Bolton. It's a little clam shack on the side of route 6. Everything looked great including the fried clams and huge fried shrimp. The funny thing was, the guy on channel 30 doing the special said he didn't like fried clams. Haven't yet, but can't wait to try it.

                                            1. re: hotwing

                                              Went to Fay's in Bolton- thanks for the info! Had the bellies, $23 (!!!!), size xx-small and no flavor. Management's reply "bellies are now very expensive and very small. This part of the season we dread because of that". Uhhh, so just boost the price from $19 to 23 aaaaand let people be disappointed?? The fish sandwich, fries & o-rings were excellent. Let me know what you think. They close for season on 10/7. For central CT, I suggest City Fish, Rte 99, Wethersfield.

                                        2. Best fried clams are Black Rock Oyster Bar in the Black Rock Section of Bridgeport, right off I-95. INCREDIBLE!!!!! I tried Westfair and weren't as good.


                                          Black Rock Cafe
                                          Wrentham, MA, Wrentham, MA

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: cheereeo

                                            Matunack Oyster House in East Matunack Rhode Island ...went there two weeks ago...drove all the way there on Sunday night to eat again...then drove home.

                                            The fried clams are ausome...the fried oysters are even better...go there today...

                                          2. In that New Haven - Milford area, I'd recommend either Stowe's Seafood (West Haven) or Captain's Catch (Milford). You can't go wrong with either one.

                                            1. I love the clams at Flander's Fish market in East Lyme. Their other seafood dishes are pretty good but not the absolute best. However, their clams (both strips and whole bellies) are fantastic. They always seem to get the breading just right and no clumps.