Serious Eats

The State(s) of Fried Clams

Having just come from a thoroughly disappointing meat at NY's latest attempt at a clam shack, Ditch Plains, I began to ruminate on how much I love fried clams.

With Memorial Day, the official start of the fried clam eating season, just around the corner, here is my absolutely incomplete guide to eating fried clams in the NYC area, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, with a southern Maine spot thrown in for good measure.

The descriptions of the clams themselves will be minimal. As I discovered a couple of years ago when I went on a ten clamshack eating adventure with Dave Pastnernack, the chef of Esca, fried clams are either really good (sweet, nutty, crisp and greaselessly fried with no breading other than flour) or they're not. And even the best clam shacks don't put enough salt into the frying mixture. One more important note: I've found that if you ask that the clams be put on a plate instead of one of those impossibly cute cardboard clam boxes, the result is clams that stay crisp and crunchy. Those "cute" boxes are actually a dastardly form of fried clamicide, because the fried clams end up steamed and soggy when they're piled on top of each other. And no fried clam meal is complete without an ice cream or frozen custard for dessert. Even bad ice cream tastes great after eating fried clams.

NYC and vicinity:

Connecticut:

I have also had good fried clams in Connecticut at the Clam Castle, {1324 Boston Post Rd., Madison, CT}, 203-245-4911 and at Johnny Ad's, {910 Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook, CT}. 860-388-4032.

Massachusetts:

Maine:

The New York Times recommended four clam shacks recently, and I must admit I haven't been to one of them. I'm going to try and hit The Clam Shack in Falmouth, Harbor, this weekend.

I recently received a copy of New England's Favorite Seafood Shacks, by Elizabeth Bougerol. The book is a lot of fun, and it's filled with tons of information (it has every place mentioned here except Christies, but it does suffer a tad from the "everything is great" school of romantic, funky food writing. Sometimes we food lovers need a discouraging word in books like this so that we believe the author is discerning. That same affliction inhabited a similar book by Brooke Dojny that came out a couple of years ago.

I'm sure I missed a bunch of places. Please, ELE readers, fill in the gaps in this woefully incomplete list.

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