Monday, June 1, 2009

The Hunt for Damned Clams

After a day at Long Beach, my fellow New Englanders who had washed up on Long Island's shores suggested we go for shellfish.  We were thinking fried clams and steamers and lobster rolls and cheap wine and a quick internet search pointed to a place in neighboring Island Park.

First things first.  We went to a place called Tiki Bar, where I indulged in a pina colada that arrived in a hollowed-out pineapple.  I don't know why, but I love to drink things in empty fruits.  
And then it was off to Peter's Clam Bar.  We ordered steamers and fried clams.  According to the website, they had a lobster roll.  In real life, that wasn't the case. 

A glass of wine in and our server returned to tell us that they were out of steamers.  This didn't go over well, but the bottle was open so we decided on soft shell crabs instead to accompany our fried clams. 

The clams came out.  We nearly lost it right then and there.  Clam strips?  How could anyone, in good conscience, charge $16.00 for a plate of fried clam strips that were not identified as such on the menu?  

I called the manager over and did something that I never do: I sent the food back and asked for the check.  A clam without a belly is like a dry old crusty piece of bread with nary a butter pat in sight. 

We blackberried more options.  We made a lot of phone calls to a lot of places, all of whom informed us that they didn't have steamers at the moment, or they didn't serve whole-bellied clams, or whatever.  What was this, Mars?  Finally, some elaborate search pointed us to Bigelow's, where they did, in fact, serve whole fried clams.

For $22.50.  From Ipswich, Massachusetts.  Which, if you're keeping track, is a lowly ten miles from my hometown and where I could get the same stupid clams at the Clam Box for about $20 less.  

We did order the clams; divided by three, it wasn't too pricey.  We had a crab cake, too, and a soft-shell crab that had been fried beyond recognition.  The clams themselves were tasty enough, the portion anemic at best.  The meal's only resounding success were light-battered onion rings, hardly a regional specialty.  

I should have thought better when the cocktail waitress at the Tiki Bar offered a plate of wings.  I should have taken her up on the offer, because hot wings would have outdone the fried mess New Yorkers call seafood. 

Tiki Bar
832 W Beech Street
Long Beach, NY 11561

Peter's Clam Bar
600 Long Beach Road
Island Park, NY 11558

Bigelow's New England Fried Clams
79 N. Long Beach Road
Rockville Center, NY 11570

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