Bob’s Clam Hut first opened in Kittery somewhere around the time man discovered fire (okay, it was really 1956). They have since become famous and been heavily lauded for their food, and most of the accolades revolve around their fried clams and lobster roll. Last month, they opened a second location on Cumberland Ave. in Portland, bringing their goods a little further north for people who don’t venture to or stop by the southern tip of Maine very often.
The smallish restaurant is only counter service. Inside, there is a large, easy to read menu on the wall to the left, and to its right – a quarter of a head-swivel away and directly behind the counter – are specials on chalkboards. There is a nice seating area both inside and out and a convenient window to the outside to pick up food. We pulled up to order, giving eyes to the menu for a couple minutes before we were ready.
I liked the size of the menu. There were rolls, sandwiches, burgers, tacos, chowders, baskets, salads, combination plates, and sides. There was something for everyone. I eyed the combination plates thinking big…a Seafood Basket with clams, scallops, and fish might work or maybe just a combo plate with the first two. I also considered the Oyster Basket or even some Fish Tacos.
With Mrs. Portlandeater prodding me to finally make a decision, I settled on the Whole Clam Basket (who eats clam strips?) served with French fries and coleslaw. She ordered the Lobster Roll served with French fries, grilled roll, and pickle – and also a hard cider. Then we found a beautiful spot to sit outside that wasn’t covered but also wasn’t too sunny.
Just about everything we needed was located conveniently outside – napkins, water, ketchup, mustard, vinegar, hot sauce, and salt and pepper. We gathered the necessities and our food was served up through the window in a short time. I was offered a couple tarter sauces which I gladly accepted and accepted again when offered a third because I realized the containers were only half full.
My clams mostly hid the slaw and fries underneath. Her lobster roll was quite full. With my fork, I stabbed a clam and ate it with some tartar sauce. It was wonderfully crispy, perfectly tender inside, and preposterously fresh. The crunchy, fried outside was seasoned to add some flavor but not enough to divert from the natural deliciousness of the clam. I could have eaten the clams plain, but the house tartar sauce was also superb, so I used plenty of that.
Once I got to where I could see the fries and slaw, I tried both. I wouldn’t say I was blown away by either, but I was certainly satisfied. They were more than just an afterthought and I felt each was a truly suitable companion to my clams. I thoroughly enjoyed the combination. My wife felt good about the lobster roll and loved the outdoor seating area. I didn’t try the roll, but I’ve had it before and I can confirm that they are of a quality appropriate for Maine.
We finished our food, leaving nothing behind. When we went to dispose of our garbage, we saw a sign on the compost barrel that stated everything used at Bob’s Clam Hut is compostable. We threw everything in there and happily, but not hungrily, made our way out. Our two meals were about $43 plus tax (not including the cider). I really loved the food and I think you will too. Go now and love the lobster roll, savor some scallops, and claim your clams. It’s the right thing to do.
111 Cumberland Avenue
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