Oh, tartar sauce!
It’s the season for fried clams
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
With the arrival of summer often comes an urge to consume fried clams, a food that fits right in with the season. Served at roadside shacks, drive-ins and restaurants, clams are a truly New England treat, and because of our proximity to the ocean, even the smallest, simplest shack often serves the freshest clams.
Fried clams come in two forms — whole clams (also known as clams with bellies) and clam strips. The whole clam is exactly that, the entire shucked soft-shelled clam complete with its gastrointestinal tract. Fried clam connoisseurs feel these have more flavor. They were created at Woodman’s in Essex, Mass., in 1916.
While many people think clam strips are just the clam with the belly cut away, they are actually strips cut from the digging foot of larger hard-shelled clams. First created by clam digger Thomas Soffron of Ipswich, Mass., in 1932 and made popular by the Howard Johnson’s chain, these clams have a texture very much like that of fried calamari rings or shrimp, with a mild, sweet flavor.
Both whole clams and clam strips are commonly eaten with tartar sauce and lemon. The restaurants listed here all hand-bread their clams, so the flavor will vary with their recipes. Most also serve clam rolls, which are hot dog buns filled with either whole clams or clam strips — perfect for smaller appetites.
To satisfy a fried clam urge, check out:
Brick House Drive-in, 1391 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 622-8091. Whole clams: plate (with fries and cole slaw) $15.95; roll $5.95; side orders — small $9.75, medium $17.60, large $29.75. Clamettes (what they call their clam strips): plate, $9.65; roll, $4.50; side orders — small $6.10, medium $9.95, large $17.80.
Cremeland Drive-in, 250 Valley St., Manchester, 669-4430. Whole clams only: plate $15.95; roll $8.95; side orders — small $9.25, medium $14.95, large $29.50.
High Tide Takeout Seafood Restaurant, 239 Henniker St., Hillsboro, 464-4202, www.hightidetakeout.net. Dinners and plates both come with fries, cole slaw, and a roll, but the dinner portions are larger. Whole clams: dinner, plate, and roll priced daily. Clam strips: dinner $9.29; plate $6.79; roll $7.29.
Hart’s Turkey Farm, 21 Front St., Manchester, 669-3333; 233 DW Highway, Meredith, 279-6212, www.hartsturkeyfarm.com. Whole clams only: dinner (with vegetable, rice pilaf or choice of potato, and roll) $17.99; mini-dinner $14.99; roll (served with cole slaw) $9.59.
Clam Haven, junction of Route 28 and Route 28 Bypass, Derry, 434-4679, www.clamhaven.com. Whole clams: plate (with fries, onion rings, and cole slaw) $14.95; basket (with fries, onion rings, and cole slaw) $9.95; roll $7.75, with fries and onion rings, $8.75; side orders — small $9.95, medium $17.25, large $24.95. Clam strips: plate $9.25; basket $7.50; roll $5.25, with fries and onion rings, $6.25; side orders — small $6.25, medium $9.25, large $14.95.
Lobster Claw II, 4 S. Main St., Derry, 437-2720. Whole clams: regular dinner (with fries, and cole slaw) $14.99; economy dinner (same, but smaller) $10.99; roll (with fries) $10.99; side orders — small $10.25, medium $13.99, large $22.99. Clam strips: regular dinner $11.50, roll $8.75, side orders — small $8.25, medium $10.95, large $17.50.
Tinker’s Seafood, 545 DW Highway, Manchester, 622-4272. Whole clams: large plate (with choice of fries, baked or mashed potato) $17.99; small plate $14.69; side orders — small $9.29, medium $16.99, large $20.99. Clam strips: plate (one size) $8.99, side orders — small $7.99, medium $11.99, large $17.97. Roll, whole or strip (with choice of fries, baked or mashed) $7.50.
Commercial Street Fishery, 33 S. Commercial St., Manchester, 296-0706, www.csfishery.com. Fried Maine whole clams with fries and slaw, priced daily.
Lobster Tail Restaurant and Fish Market, 4 Cobbetts Pond Road, Windham, 434-8245, www.lobstertail.net. Whole clams: dinner (with fries and cole slaw) $16.95; large box $19.95; roll (with choice of fries or cole slaw) $9.95. Clam strips: dinner $9.95; large box $13.95; roll $7.95.