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Apr 18, 2013 05:41 PM

Lobster Claw in North Reading, our new(40 years old) fave Seafood Shack

We've been here several times now and have been really happy with our meals. The smell of summer in the parking lot is hypnotic and the food doesn't disappoint. Its is a no frills, counter service, paper plates shack with really friendly staff and standard nautical décor. It is and old fashioned New England place, pretty much all fried except for very occasional baked which I haven't had, and chowders. The flavor is perfectly basic without creative funkiness. A fried plate usually comes with fries and slaw but you can add rings to it for $2 which I highly recommend. The rings are really flavorful sweet onions, sometimes very thin, sometimes less thin, with a crispy, somewhat greasy and not heavily crunchy coating. Taste a bit like canned French's fried onions if they were made homemade instead of canned. The portions are great, I am guessing close to a pound of fish in a dinner. They cut the haddock into pieces about the size of a thick rectangular hotdog and there are several pieces. The cole slaw is how I like the taste of coleslaw, probably a thin mayo based coating, fairly sweet, mild, maybe a little celery seed and cut in rough chop. I prefer coleslaw finer or shredded but this is fresh and good. Its a real treat when they have non traditional fried fish like salmon or swordfish, usually less than $10. and usually really juicy and fresh. They fry lobster too. I even like the(fake) seafood salad which is big scoops on a grilled bun with fries, slaw and a drink for $5. He told me yesterday that he got some really good clams from Maine with Med/Large juicy bellies and he was right. About nickel to quarter size bellies, lightly coated, tender, and tasted of ocean and clam. They will accommodate easily. We asked for a sole, clam combo and got it and once we said we were curious about what the small Maine shrimp were like compared to the big ones, and they added a big heaping portion of them onto our already large seafood platter for us to try. Both types of shrimp were tender. Its also the kind of tarter I like with a nice oniony touch. I think the only weakness is really the fries. They have been experimenting lately with coated fries and I like an unadulterated pure potato fry, whether standard, crinkle or steak, so I cant quite say what kind you will get but probably a standard or thinner coated but at least not seasoned fry. The fish chowder is full of fish and comforting, probably made with a little bay or thyme and condensed milk/ Clam chowder is similar. Havent tried the lobster bisque.

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  1. I liked this place better about five years ago (or more). It was our default drop in place for over 2 decades. They had a change of ownership or management some time ago and never recaptured me fully since then. I keep going back, hoping to be sated once again. I am always disappointed. The food is flavorful, the staff nice enough. I don't mind old fashioned, but it borders on depressing. Never many people, sticky floor and a really sad, nearly empty fish case. I haven't been for about 6-7 months. After your review, I think I'll go back and try again.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chowmel

      hope you like it this time! We had been here a couple years ago and like it better now, so maybe it has improved the last few months. yes, the fish case is almost always empty, because they don't have a fish market anymore except for certain times a year. When they had it up last year, the fish in it looked great. Giant portions of swordfish ready to slice, etc. I am surprised about the ownership, since they say its the same family for something like 40 years on the website and on the wall..

      1. re: chompie

        We just moved to North Reading in December, and we frequently go to Lobster Claw when we are in the mood for seafood. We've really enjoyed everything we've had there. I love the fried lobster when they have it, and I'll definitely try the chowder the next time we go. I'm glad to know that they do have the fish market at some times during the year; we've not found a good fish market in the area yet.

        1. re: maestrette

          glad to hear of someone else going there! We haven't found a good market yet either and we've been around here forever...When they have the market I will try it for sure. You can try Haven St Fish in Reading. Its been okay the couple times we tried it. People love the Reading Market Basket fish here, but I wasn't thrilled with my couple tries. Turner Seafood Restaurant in Melrose has a market there and it was okay, will be willing to try them again..

    2. Havent been there for years- used to go all the time. Remember when It was just a tiny place. Their crabmeat salad was unbelievable- just shredded (real) crab, and a bit of mayo. Dont think they make it any more. used to like their fish market, too. Will have to stop by again. Thanks for the reminder.

      4 Replies
      1. re: macca

        just went back again yesterday and still loving it.. I changed my thoughts on the fish chowder, I don't think its condensed milk.. seemed like pure milk, cream and a little butter maybe.. and the fries have been better.. still don't prefer coated fries, but oh well... This time had fish and chips, or basket which is smaller 7.95 and no slaw, but still had 7 big hunks of fish. That basket and add side rings and a pint of chowder and a drink and tip and we shared it and were stuffed for under 20 bucks.. The rings were more crispy today, so I think you can ask for them how you like them done. My hubby loves all the middles. He says they are like those chocolate coins.. golden coating on a sweet onion coin. Just had a baked fish at another place that was stinky and unedible, so it was so nice to come here and know I would get consistently fresh fish..

        1. re: chompie

          went back today, and hubby commented how nice it is that on a really hot day, that a fish place can smell so good! Got the seafood salad with fries, slaw, drink $5.99 and Haddock basket $7.95, no rings cuz wanted to eat lighter but still got stuffed. And they changed the fries to the best ones yet.. wedges, soft inside and very crispy outside and well browned.. The haddock is so moist and fresh and the coating is so much thinner than a lot of places without big hunks of fry bits taking over..

          1. re: chompie

            The wedges must be really new. We had lunch there Tuesday, and they had little skinny fries. I tried the chicken basket for the first time - very tasty.

            1. re: maestrette

              they do switch around with different samples. I encouraged them to stick to the wedges..