Fried clams and lobster rolls...is there anything better in the summer? When I was a kid growing up, fried clams were a summertime treat (I don't recall a helluva lot of lobster rolls from back then, however). Nathan's and Howard Johnson's were two places where fried clams might be had. As a teenager with a car, Pete's Clam Bar in Island Park was a favorite stop. It was on the way to or from the beach, where we kids from Franklin Square often headed, on the days when we weren't working...yes, we had summer jobs back then. Unfortunately, my last visit there (perhaps last summer) left me wanting more - a lot more than the insipid clam strips they served, which I must've thought were great at one time or another. Ahhhh, the folly of youth.
Last weekend I saw a friend who mentioned that he and his wife had recently spent almost a week up in the Gloucester/Rockport area of Massachusetts...known as Cape Ann; and even more likely well known for the book and movie The Perfect Storm.
Which reminded me that not long ago Significant Eater and I also spent a few days up that way, starting with a night in Newburyport and then migrating south, where we ate ourselves silly with lobster rolls and fried clams, among other things. And that's what this is about - those lobster rolls and fried clams - and there's no better place in the world for them than north of Boston, aka the north shore.
Our first night was spent in Newburyport, at the Essex St. Inn, a nice, slightly shabby property within minutes of everything in Newburyport - a great old fishing town. After checking in, our first meal was at Bob Lobster, which is on the way to and from Plum Island, and where we ordered a light lunch, consisting of:
These were really good, the lobster roll nothing more than big chunks of lobster and a bit of diced celery (to use celery or not? - that is one of the great lobster roll questions), lightly dressed; the bellies were ungreasy and delicious. Here's the lobster roll:
Needless to say, a quite satisfying lunch (take that, Pete's!) followed by dinner in "downtown" Newburyport at Aquatini, where we had a surprisingly good meal, studiously avoiding the eponymous martini list. I said to Significant Eater on our walk back to the inn: "I could live here." She scoffed and said, "for about 10 minutes." Okay, I'll grant her that...
The next day we headed to Cape Ann and Gloucester, stopping for a few lunches along the way, first at:
Farnham's fried clams may have been our favorite ones of the trip, but we also loved the scallop chowder...check out the huge scallops in there:
And then the bellies...
Next up, after a couple of Tums, was Essex Seafood, a nondescript place with a view of the parking lot, but with some pretty darn good bellies as well...
Proceeding on, to the lovely town of Gloucester, made famous in that Storm movie, and quite photographic - it's amazing as well as sad to think about, but over 10,000 fisherman have lost their lives in the 400 years that Gloucester has been a fishing village. The birds seem not to care.
These can be seen all around the harbor:
After they're hauled in by:
We stayed at the lovely Ocean View Inn, in East Gloucester, right on the water. Our room had a great view, along with a nice terrace outside, from where I took this shot:
We had dinner that night in the restaurant in the hotel, and the view is really the only reason why you would want to eat there, though it has a nice little bar.
Were we done? No way, as lunch the next day was at The Lobster Pool, overlooking Ipswich Bay in Rockport. Once again, we ordered and ate. Rolls, bellies, chowder...
I was surprised at how greaseless all of the fried clams were.
And Lobster Pool's lobster roll doesn't even bother with the celery, which is okay with me.
Dinner on our last night was at Duckworth's Bistrot, a quite fine place in East Gloucester. Everything on the menu can be ordered in full or half portions, and the food was well prepared and a nice break from all that fried goodness. As a matter of fact, we even got to eat a green vegetable other than diced celery or cole slaw!