Posts Tagged ‘fried clams’

From the comments on my photo of Bubbling Brook in Westwood MA I know I’m not the only one with fond memories of this seasonal restaurant and ice cream stand nestled in the suburban greenery southwest of Boston. Open since 1951 from mid-May to Mid-September a visit to The Brook is a sign summer has begun!

Bubbling Brook Restaurant(The 1897 on the chimney refers to the year that Westwood became a town,
separating from Dedham. Now you knows!)


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If you worship at the altar of the fried clam, Woodman’s in Essex MA is the place to pay homage to this summer treat. I imagine the faithful genuflect or bow down at the sight of this mighty mollusk.

The Fried Clam Mecca

Woodman’s  has been in business since 1914 and its claim to fame is that its owner “Chubby” Woodman invented  the fried clam in 1916 – and I can’t thank him enough! If you want to get that authentic “in the rough” seafood dining experience Woodman’s is your place.

An American Tradition

Ordering can be a bit confusing for first timers as the place is entirely self serve. Get in one line for food, another line for drinks. Claim your table and wait for your number to be called and then pick up your food at the window.

Sizes at Woodman's

Happiness at Woodman's

You can sit inside at one of the wooden booths or head outside under the tent that is set up alongside the Essex river. Just note that while you can purchase and drink beer and wine inside, alcohol isn’t allowed outside the building.

Here’s my idea of pure summer heaven:

Happy Birthday to Me!(Lest you think I managed to fit 2 fried clam meals into one visit to Massachusetts, never fear, dear reader.  This time I was lucky enough to be accompanied on my trip home by my Retro RoadHusband, who loves to eat Retro Roadfood as much as I do!)

RRH is into the sides, so he opted for fries, onion rings and slaw with his clams. I stayed true to the course with fried clams and lobster (a birthday indulgence) as I always fill up faster than I think I will. And in the words of my late father-in-law Bob, “Don’t fill up on the cheap stuff!”

Our food was incredibly tasty, and it was fun to look around as we were eating, at the local folks in business suits having lunch, the families on vacation, and overhear foodies from NYC dissect their meals. And to realize that all of us were becoming a part of the history of Woodman’s, like photos that cover the walls.

Woodman's History

The lines can be long in the summer weekends so there are some benches set up for the pilgrims. We were there on a Monday so it was much more manageable.


To me this place is as summertime as it gets, and even though I was stuffed and shiny with fried, I was – HA! Happy as a clam at Woodman’s.

121 Main St
Essex, MA 01929-1305
(978) 768-6057

Nicks Nest on Urbanspoon

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During my entire week in Massachusetts there was one food that remained on the top of my list, fried clams with bellies. I had to schedule this treat so I could properly appreciate their goodness and not be overstuffed from other meals, so I made the Clam Box in Ipswich the last stop of my Mass Retro Roadmap tour.

The Clam Box Ipswich MA

Buily in 1938, the Clam Box is a mecca for roadside enthusiasts, with it’s vintage “programmatic architecture” – aka built to resemble something – like a duck, or a barrel or a basket. I don’t think anyone would be surprised to know that the Clam Box was built to look like a clam box!

The Clam Box Memories

The clam box is the holy grail of foodies and regular folks alike, who drive for miles for a taste of  the delicious seafood and clams of Ipswich.  On my own personal pyramid of favorite foods, fried clams with bellies are up there at the very top- as you can see from this sign I have hanging in our kitchen:

Fried Clams

The Retro Roadmap gods were on my side during my visit to the Clam Box, that is for sure:

  • Rain Rain Go Away! As I pulled into the gravel parking lot of the Clam Box the  pouring rain suddenly let up. The Clam Box is small and infamous for long slow lines that snake  around the building, so the fact that it wasn’t raining made my wait in line much more tolerable.
  • Change Yer Oil, ma’am? The other thing that the Clam Box is infamous for is that they change the oil in the fryers every day “around 2:30”.  I was in fact the last person to get an order in before the oil change, saving me another 20+ minutes of waiting in line- thanks Retro Roadgods!
    Some folks like to be the first in line to get the freshest fried, but I’m no purist in that respect, and knowing I was on the North Shore at 2:25 and wanted to get to Rehoboth Beach Delaware for last call, I needed to save all the time I could.

So yes,  you wait in long slow moving line,  you order at the window and wait for them to call your number. There is a small dining room just past the windows, and the friendly hostess enforces the “please don’t claim a table ’til you’ve placed your order” rule while pleasantly assisting folks who have ordered find  a seat.

As you wait on the bench inside you can reviewat the positive press tacked up on the walls, conveying the history of the place and it’s local and international fame. Jane and Michael Stern, authors and stars of the  Roadfood website, have given the Clam Box their blessing calling them  the “best fried clams in the universe” and I am not one to argue with that.


My order arrived quickly compared to the wait in line and my luck held out as the rain started to pour down AFTER  I  got into my car.  What did I care what was going on outside?  I was about to partake of a  meal meant for the gods- the Retro Roadgods that is!

As I ripped open my brown paper bag of hot fried goodness  I saw that my wait was worth it.  My fried clams with bellies were hot, crunchy, briney and delicate all at the same time. I delighted in devouring each one.

Clam Box Bounty

As a nod to the research portion of the trip, I opted for the combo plate that had onion rings. While they were good, I think everything pales in comparison to the glorious fried clam. It was probably a good thing I didn’t get an entire order of just clams (though I might in the future), as I didn’t need to get a case of fried clam belly on 8 hour drive to Delaware.

As I got out of the car to get rid of my trash I noticed that they had picnic tables under the trees for days that weren’t so dreary, but use at your own risk!

Clam Box Picnic Tables

Doing one more loop around the building for photos I commented to the folks in line that they must be regulars, as everyone had their giant golf umbrellas open.  Despite the rain they were patiently waiting in line for the glorious fried clams from the Clam Box. I don’t blame ’em.

Clam Box In The Rain

The rain started coming down harder then, and as I pulled out of the parking lot, snapping one last photo from my car, I knew that was the Retro Roadmap gods letting me know that the fun was over, and it was time head south.

Clam Box
246 High St
Ipswich, MA 01938
(978) 356-9707

Oh and P.S. – cash only!

Clam Box of Ipswich on Urbanspoon

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Evelyn's Drive In

Evelyn’s Drive In in tiny Tiverton Rhode Island is a perfect  “Rhode”-trip destination for casual waterfront dining.  Dining sounds a bit formal though, as it is more of a cozy clam shack. A fave of locals and out-of-towners for the past 40 years, Evelyn’s has been family owned and operated for the past 19 years by Domenic and Jane Bitto.


Order your food at the window in the  classic roadside eats way and then settle yourself down at a covered picnic table. Or you can sit outside on the patio for waitress service – which includes cocktails, if you’re so inclined.


Evelyn’s has my personal fave in the New England region, fried clams with bellies- these were just perfection, not too much crust, small and briney. And yep, that’s a New England Style Hot Dog Roll. Mmmm mmmm. They also have a wide selection of other offerings, not all fried and not all seafood, not to worry!

Don’t forget to stop and admire the neon lobster- not sure how long he’ll be there (photo snapped 4.24.09)


Evelyn’s Drive-In

2335 Main Rd (Rt 77)
Tiverton, RI 02878
(401) 624-3100

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