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Gluten Free Fried Seafood at Woodman's

Just a heads up for gluten free folks that my girlfriend and I stumbled across gluten free fried seafood at Woodman's in Essex the other day. I haven't found any other clam shacks doing gluten free so this was a tremendous find. Frankly, I didn't even think it existed. Their entire menu can be done gluten free except for clamcakes, onion rings, and sandwiches. This was mind blowing for my girlfriend who thought she'd never eat fried seafood again from a clam shack. Big thumbs up to Woodman's! So good we went back with a friend for a second trip two days later.

I don't have a problem with gluten (only my girlfriend does), but to be honest, I enjoyed the gluten free version of the fried seafood much better. It wasn't as greasy or as heavy as the standard plates I ordered. Going forward I will probably order from the gluten free menu instead of the regular menu, it was that much better -- highly recommended even if you aren't gluten intolerant.

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  1. They've been doing that for a long time, enjoy.

    1. So they have a dedicated separate fryer for this?? One of my good friends who is allergic to gluten can not eat things fried in the same oil as even a crumb is enough to make her sick.

      11 Replies
      1. re: hargau

        Yup, separate fryer and prep area.

        1. re: treb

          Nice! I will tell her but chances are she still cant eat it since she is also allergic to corn so if they use corn oil or corn starch or flour she is out of luck..

          1. re: hargau

            I'd call and ask, you may be surprised.

            1. re: hargau

              I am SURE they use corn. That is the only other option for fried seafood if you want to be gluten free.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                Depends how they do it. I have had fried seafood with rice flour, tapioca flour, acorn flour, waterchestnut flout etc..

                1. re: hargau

                  None of the above at a traditional New England Seafood shack. It's either corn or wheat or some combo thereof.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    Mutliple online articles suggest that they use corn flour.

                    1. re: LStaff

                      It is my understanding that they use corn flour but in the case of allergy it's always best to call to be sure. I rarely eat fried seafood..but when I do..it's either Woodmans or Ipswich clam box. On most things though, Woodmans has the edge. Their fried scallops are the best hands down.
                      Your gf is not missing much with the clamcakes. In my opinion..it's the worst thing they do..way to dough-ey and heavy.

                      1. re: BlueMagic

                        Does woodmans deliver to the south shore?

                        1. re: libertywharf

                          Sadly, Liberty, they don't. You will have to venture up to the North Shore to enjoy Woodmans and all the other nice things the North Shore has to offer...

            1. re: lobster lover

              But.. gluten free lard!!:o). Good flavor from lard, BTW. Essex Seafood uses lard, too.

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              Essex Seafood
              143 Eastern Ave, Essex, MA 01929

                1. re: lobster lover

                  Julia Child would have, I think, been very happy to know that.

                  1. re: lobster lover

                    You would be amazed at the number of places that still use lard. I am sure this contributes to the most excellent flavor of the fried seafood. This doesn't bother me quite so much. I guess it would if I ate fried seafood on a regular basis..but since it's only once in a while I tend to just enjoy it and not think about it. I never think of Woodman's seafood as being overly heavy or greasy ( at least in terms of fried food). The onion rings can be dangerously filling.

                    1. re: BlueMagic

                      Yeah, I feel the same, although I don't think I can digest lard that well (or too much of any fat for that matter). I eat (as do all my kids) basically a very low fat diet on a regular basis. But I have fried clams at the most once a year, maybe even once every two years - and I want them to be the BEST when I do. I have to admit that frying in lard makes just about anything taste better. And (although I've never experienced it) - duck fat.

                      Wonder what clams would taste like fried in duck fat... hmmm...

                      About Woodman's - that was always our go-to place for clams, although a cousin of mine thinks Woodman's are too greasy & prefers the Clam Box (haven't been there in more years than I want to remember - and since my car isn't working right now, I think it'll be another year added on that!)

                      Ideally, I'd like to try both to compare. Ah, what I'd do for the sake of scientific study. ;-)

                      1. re: threedogs

                        That is the great battle in my house. My son is without question, Woodman's. I like most things Woodmans but for certain things ( Lobster rolls , fried clams and chowder) Ipswich Clam box has the edge. Clam box also has flounder which is a bonus( although they seem to sell out quickly). For everything else ( scallops, onion rings , fries, corn on the cob, lobster in the rough and overall atmosphere and service Woodman's is better.

                      2. re: BlueMagic

                        Clam Box uses or used to use animal shortening, as well. Splurge is splurge, so go for it! Over the years, the highest % of 'off meals,' including dry, metallic boiled lobster....worse than on the Spirit of Boston... for me, has been at Woodman's. Clam Box rules supreme! Fried clams are a food about which one has an expectation, a 'taste set.' They might be objectively great, but if your mouth does not match your mind, they only get a B+. Some South Shore clams (e.g. Jake's, Nantasket,) are great, but they never measure up to the Agganis (sp?) fare. For all the wait, for the extra wait at the oil change-over, in all the years since '74, I have never been disappointed in THE BOX!

                        Note: Clam Box IPSWICH, not Quincy

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                        Clam Box
                        789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

                        1. re: hemeon

                          I completely agree.Woodman's is simply gross. but if the OP loves it, more power to 'em.
                          Hopefully some day he'll try the Clam Box and see the difference and why we feel the way we feel about it.

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                          Clam Box
                          789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            Have you been back to the Clam Box since your first visit a little over a year ago?

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/713535

                            1. re: Infomaniac

                              yes, thought i wrote it up- a heads up about the high clam prices due to clam shortage. We've been twice since last yr., most recently a few wks ago when i wrote up the above.
                              Have you been?

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                I have lived 12 miles from the Clam Box in Ipswich all my life, so I've been many times.
                                There is no better place for big belly clams, but the CB will not be able to satisfy Gluten Free folks.

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                                Clam Box
                                789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

                                1. re: Infomaniac

                                  info, so cool to hear from a local in the know. Did you see the other recent Clam Box thread activity? What do you say re Essex and Farnhams? i need to know!!

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                    I can't remember the last time I've been to Farnham's or Essex. It could be over 20 years so I really don't have a say. I have a short list for fried seafood in the area, and that would be the Clam Box in Ipswich, Dube's in Salem, The Causeway in Gloucester, Ceal's Fried Clams in Seabrook, NH now closed for the season, and Agawam Diner in Rowley.

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                                    Agawam Diner
                                    166 Newburyport Tpke, Rowley, MA

                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                      I went to Farnham's last Saturday afternoon. In my opinion, it wasn't better than either Woodmans or Clam Box..it's wasn't bad..just not better. I got the clam chowder which wasn't bad..but a little thin..and a little too buttery for my taste ( and trust me..I rarely complain about butter). My cousin got the fried scallops and clam plate and I tried a couple of scallops and clams...again..not bad..but not for sure on the same level as the Clam Box. Interestingly..they serve a manhatten style "scallop chowder"..which a guy in line was telling me was to die for. I didn't try it. Also, I always have to ask about the cooking oil in a new place..so I found out that everything is fried in animal fat except for the fries which are fried in canola oil. You can request to have your seafood fried in Canola oil also..and they will do it. I saw the lobster roll..and it looked skimpy.
                                      I did like the outdoor picnic tables overlooking the marsh...but they have inadequate parking. I was there in the middle of the afternoon and still had trouble with parking. All in all..while they were very nice..the service great..the food just wasn't good enough for me to go back with other..better options nearby.

                                      1. re: BlueMagic

                                        thanks so much for this helpful info, blue. now i don't need to even think about it anymore!

                                      2. re: opinionatedchef

                                        Oh..and if by Essex..you mean Essex Seafood...I would give that a pass. I stopped there last year at the recommendation of a friend of a friend..worst..and I mean worst..fried scallops I have ever had. There is no way they were fresh. I would not go back. I know people like it..I just don't understand why.

                                        1. re: BlueMagic

                                          I agree. I have only been to Essex Seafood once and had a horrible , dry, overcooked meal.

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                                          Essex Seafood
                                          143 Eastern Ave, Essex, MA 01929

                      3. There is another Woodman's in Litchfield NH but it's only open seasonally.
                        http://www.freedomtodine.com/massachu...

                        1. Wanted to bring this thread back from the dead...

                          I recently made a trip to Woodman's for a gluten free fried clam plate and was *shocked* that the price has jumped to $30!! I honestly couldn't justify the expense and turned around to leave.

                          Any alternative gluten free fried seafood (clam shacks) out there that someone wants to recommend? Love them or hate them, I've always been a fan of Woodman's solely because of their gluten free options. But at $30 for a clam plate it's time to look elsewhere.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: rrocket18

                            Three courses at Ribelle before 6 ( do they still do that?) sounds like a better use of thirty dollars than a plate of clams in your car or a weak lobster roll at Belle Isle.

                            But then, its never been a better time to hate fish.

                            Leave 'em in the ocean.