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Compare Clams at Clam Box w/ Farnham's & w/ Essex Seafood?(Plse Don't Shoot)

I know you're prob sick of this topic, and i can just HEAR the muttering of "geez, get a life, it's just FOOD!" Howevahhh,
IF you have, in the past, actually eaten the fried clams (and rings hopefully) at Clam Box and Farnhams OR Clam Box and Essex Sfd., would you plse tell me why one was better than another, for you ?
We only do fried clams a few times a year; we always go to Clam Box (having been forced in the past to try Village Sfd(last yr.) and Woodman's( 3 yrs ago and before.) because i can't imagine better. Trying them at F and ES would not be a cheap proposition; it's not like you can just get $5 worth of clams and rings to sample; aside from the fact that we don't like wasting food....

I vaguely remember some CH doing a fr clam crawl yrs ago and if that were you, might you link it?
thanks youall for your patience and help on this. and for not using real bullets.

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  1. If the Clam Box is busy and Farnhams is quiet, I choose Farnhams, On a side I had great Clams and onion rings the other night at Dube's in Salem.

    4 Replies
    1. re: phatchris

      really? as good a fry job as clam box? i have to look up this place as we're headed to mrbhd today. thk you for more info!

      1. re: opinionatedchef

        I'm not saying Dube's is as good as Farnhams or the Clam Box, but for the price, location, and waiter service/full bar its damn good...and yes I may be in the minority , but Farnhams on a good day is as good if not better than the Clam Box...IMO of course.

      2. I have been to Essex Seafood once..last summer..and the clams and scallops my better half and I had were soo bad that I would never go back. I know people say they like it..but the scallops tasted old and the clams were chewy..and both were greasy.

        I've been to Farnham's a couple of times and like it a lot. The only issue is the lack of parking. I don't mind waiting in line..but you have to be able to park and when it's busy it can be impossible.

        I love the Clam Box..so if you like the Clam Box..then I think you will really like Farnham's...just go at an off time.

        1. Clam Box makes the best fried clams I've ever tried: super fresh big bellies, perfect fry job, great batter. I only tried Farnham's once some years ago, and that one time was enough to convince me it's not worth chancing the drive up from Brookline: long wait in spite of what seemed like a modest line, clams not very sweet nor tasty. I enjoy ES a lot, and think it does a fine job with their clams, I just wish you could request big bellies there. I agree with phatchris, Dube's is great, at least the equal of ES. I once took a father and son who are exceptionally picky about their clams, and we all thought the clams were excellent. Be forewarned that it's definitely a different scene/vibe than the clam shacks.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Kip McSkipster

            If you don't feel like driving too far Neptune has amazing fried clams.

          2. Gotta say that Clam Box big-bellies are about the best I've ever had. But, I have to agree with phatchris that, when I drive by and see the hour-long line, I'll go to Farnhams. They're close enough in quality IMO,and, if Farnhams is serving cod cheeks. . . . sold!

            2 Replies
            1. re: powerfulpierre

              I had cod cheeks at the Village this summer that kicked ass.

              1. re: powerfulpierre

                I love the clams at Farnham's, but I actually passed on the lobster roll at Belle Isle last year (just once), and I wasn't disappointed in their clams, not one bit. Very yummy, and much closer to town than Essex.

              2. Here is the link to the Klam Krawl report. Gosh, was that really 2008???
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/543497

                1 Reply
                1. re: fesenjan

                  fes, you are the BEST! thnx so much for the link; a lot of very helpful details on the clam crawl rating they did. and it looks like we don't need to bother w/ ES or F, so I can get some sleep now!
                  thx again.

                2. I acknowledge the Clam Box as the best, the platonic idea for fried clams. Whenever I'm in the north Ipswich neighborhood, I go there. But it is a fairly long drive from my house in Gloucester, so I frequent Essex Seafood, as it is much more convenient (esp. if I am taking them home). I've never had any bad food at Essex, but I do admit it isn't as good as the Clam Box. For me, it's the sweet spot of quality and location.

                  1. Strictly clams:
                    Clam Box > Essex Seafood > Farnham's > everywhere else
                    Caveat: All three of these are excellent and I would recommend each of them.

                    The Clam Box usually has big belly clams and it tastes like they change out oil the most frequently. Essex Seafood has a bit more variability in the belly size, but always sweet. Farnham's has very good clams, but on one occasion they were a bit overcooked (giving Essex Seafood the slight edge).

                    We usually end up going to Essex Seafood. They have very good chowder and it's rarely too crowded. We've eaten outside when a pickup truck towing a small boat unloads its quarry of clams to the kitchen. Perhaps that boat-to-kitchen quaintness colors my perception.

                    If we have guests coming to town, we might bring them to Farnham's because it has a beautiful view of the marsh and they also have very good chowder. Also, they have cod cheeks more reliably than anyone else (though they still often run out).

                    We rarely go to the Clam Box, because the wait simply isn't worth it for us when Essex and Farnham's are both so good.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: croutonweb

                      wow web, it seems that you would really disagree with the '08 CH clam crawl .
                      Take a look at this:
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/543497

                      looks like F and ES maybe got their act together in the last 4 yrs! maybe another crawl is called for?!

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        Maybe they had a bad day, because I go to Essex Seafood every 4 weeks or so and have been for years and haven't had a clam like those described in that OP yet.

                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                          Bringing up an old thread. This summer my friends and I hit a different clam place each month (now we're trying to decide whether to do pizza or Thai for our fall crawl...) The results, for clams: Farnham's, then a split on Woodman's or the Clam box for second, and Essex Seafood got a unanimous thumbs down to sweep last place. ES wasn't even close to the others: hard pale crusts - on the clams, calimari and chicken fingers we tried.

                      2. Farnhams all the way for fried clams and onion rings. Less money, less of a wait, better food.

                        1 Reply
                        1. Been a while since I sampled any of them...but......one fanatic's opinion:

                          In comparison with MOST of the rest of the world, you can't go wrong at any one of them.

                          In comparison among them ( and a few select others), I'd still nod to the Clam Box...wait notwithstanding

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                            well, the seesaw keeps going up and down on Farnhams, and we prob are gonna try it for ourselves. hey it sounds like a beauty view.and bugs only at dusk i would guess.i hope.

                            I was re-reading this thread, and saw a remark about ES and the boat of clams unloading at the restnt. But i'm guessing that all these places buy shucked clams for their fried clams.Like the lobster roll restnts in Boston, the tiny kitchens are just not big enough, and would require many more staff, to shuck all that product on site....... It makes me wonder if the shucked clams come from just a few vendors (in which case, the clams at these diff restnts might all be the same, but it is their treatment that makes one restaurant's fried clams 'better' than another's.......Then again, it's possible that each of CB, ES and F (plus others) sells so much product that each keeps its own wholesaler's shucking operation in business full time. Anyone?