Clam Box (Ipswich) - Dissent

I adore whole belly fried clams. Surprisingly, after more than 20 years living in the Boston area, I still had never been to the Clam Box in Ipswich. I just could never muster the strength to deal with long lines. But when my sister (also a clam freak) came for a weekday visit, she declared it criminal that I hadn’t been…and so off we went. They were fresh, tender, nicely coated and the fry job was top notch. However, they had an off-putting aftertaste. I am a fish-eating vegetarian and haven’t eaten meat for over 10 years…the flavor to me was reminiscent of beef…sort of brisket-y. Onion rings had a similar flavor. Do they use lard? Anyway, I won’t return. There are plenty of other places to get excellent clams that use vegetable oil. I know I’m breaking with a traditional CH darling of the boards…but they just weren’t my cup of tea.

I’ve got to agree. The Clam Box isn’t bad per se, but for me absolutely not worth the wait. I have had good and bad fry jobs there. I don’t think they’re that consistent with changing their oil.

We had some fried clam bellies at Sesuit Harbor Cafe on the Cape last week that were perfectly and cleanly fried.

what time of day did you go? I remember reading that they supposedly change the frying oil at the same time every day, but can’t remember what it was…maybe 2 pm after the lunch rush? Does anybody remember, and does the animal fat taste diminish soon after the oil is changed?

I don’t love it either. Mainly because the clams that I’ve had there always have had the tiniest of bellies. I know that you can ask for large bellies but unfortunately they have not been available in the 4 or 5 times that I’ve been. The clams at JT Farnhams that I had yesterday also had almost nonexistent bellies. Maybe this is how they are typically served? The clam places that i’m used to such as Oxford Creamery or Kool Kone on the South Coast always serve the large belly type.

We were there right at noon. The color on the clams and onion rings was light…didn’t seem like old oil. If you eat meat all the time, you probably wouldn’t notice or be bothered I imagine. But if you never eat meat, the taste was palpable.

I eat pork and beef several times a year but no more. so I am quite sure the beef taste would not work for me. thanks.

Yeah…frankly, I don’t know how anyone, carnivore or pescatarian, would enjoy the beef flavor melded with the sweetness of the clams. Really detracts, IMHO. And I don’t find the smell of meat off-putting at all…still jones for a burger or ribs when I smell them!

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I do like the pork and clam combination in the Portuguese braised dish, but the clams are not fried. Thanks again for alerting those of us who don’t like clams fried in animal fat.

Sure, I can see in a dish where flavors are married in that way. But not for singular fried clams…agreed.

Had some good ones a couple of weeks ago at the Hingham Lobster Pound- nice large bellies.
I don’t find the Clam Box any better than Woodman’s or Farnham’s. I haven’t noted the tallowy flavor, but thanks for the heads up.

I find the Hingham Lobster Pound’s fried clams as good as anyones and better than most. The Satuit Tavern in Scituate has excellent fried clams as well. Good for us South Shore people. A bit of a ride from anywhere else.
I Do Enjoy,
CocoDan

It seems your taste buds are spot on. According to this old Globe article:
http://archive.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2008/08/27/seeking_the_best_box_of_bivalves/
the Clam Box uses a combination of beef tallow and vegetable oil for frying.

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