The Clam Shack is a stand-alone street-side shack, in the heart of downtown Kennebunkport, approximately 2 hours north of Boston. The Shack offers only a take-out window, no wait service, no seating: you order, you stand around with your receipt in hand, you hope there is an open bench nearby when your order is up, your mouth waters as you wait for your number to be called….this is old-school, New England eating, at its best, even on a rainy day. The fare is typical of any other clam shack: chowder, steamers, fried clams, rolls of either lobster, shrimp or crab. Add a side of fries or onion rings and close with a slice of blueberry pie and you have a perfect summer meal served by a super friendly staff.
I had heard the hype, I had read the reviews and I celebrated that a New England eatery had scored the “fan favorite” prize at last year’s Rumble and I finally made the trip; with my mother and my children in tow, we hit the road. When I placed my order I was offered two options, butter or mayo, I went with the mayo. For my $16.75 I was served an open-faced round toasted roll with mayonnaise spread on both sides of the bun. The sandwich itself contained lots of lobster meat, nothing but lobster meat and big, generous fresh hunks of mostly tail and some claw meat….the sandwich is hearty and absolutely delicious. This is a traditional lobster roll, no fillers, no seasonings (I do not understand the call for seasoning a perfectly cooked lobster), no odd flavor pairings (I recently read about a lobster roll with barbecue sauce and caramelized onions…really?). The Clam Shack lobster roll is just lobster, just as it should be and I loved it!
We had also ordered the chowder, some fries and my mom had a shrimp roll. We sat, huddled, in the front entry of the next-door but not yet open-for-the-season Clam Shack fish market. The fish market had put out some high-top tables, there were many more customers than available seats; we were lucky to be sitting, lots of others either ate in their car or just stood about with cardboard box in one hand and lobster roll in the other. Everyone seemed happy.
I look forward to this year’s Tasting Table Lobster Roll Rumble. I wish The Clam Shack the very best and certainly hope to return to Kennebunk, real soon. There is nothing, it seems, like a Maine lobster and there are very few lobster rolls, it seems, like that which is served at Kennebunkport’s The Clam Shack.
“The Tasting Table Lobster Roll Rumble is an amazing opportunity to show New Yorkers and trendsetting foodies what we in Maine already know — there is only one Maine lobster and the flavor is impossible to beat,” said Marianne LaCroix, acting director of the Maine Lobster Council, an organization that promotes the state’s signature seafood.
This year four Maine-based operations — Portland’s Eventide Oyster Co., Bite Into Maine in Cape Elizabeth and The Galley Restaurant & Pub in Naples — join reigning champ The Clam Shack in the Big Apple. They are among a field of contestants hand-picked by Tasting Table editors.
Many others, including Luke’s Lobster, the California-based Cousins Maine Lobster and Red Hook Lobster Pound of New York, are run by Maine natives or folks with close family ties to the state.
Even chefs without any direct connection to Maine consider the state’s beloved crustacean their best shot at being crowned the country’s lobster roll king, said Tasting Table spokeswoman Samantha Bernstein.
“A lot of our contestants boast that they fly in fresh Maine lobster, so I think everybody tries to have some kind of tie to the region,” she said.
(The Bangor Daily News, Seth Koenig, May 27, 2013)
The Clam Shack
2 Western Avenue