Top Dog of Rockport
Chef-owner Scott Lucas says if he listens closely, his clams talk to him, letting him know when they are perfectly cooked. And as any lover of fried clams knows, overcooking is the sworn enemy of these sweet, tender bivalves. “Select” clams, hand-chosen for their belly size, are carefully battered in a secret recipe of corn meal, flour, and herbs to ensure every nook and cranny is well covered. Then into the hot oil—Top Dog changes its oil every other day to keep off-flavors and greasiness away. These sweet, fresh, crispy, and perfectly fresh morsels are served with creamy homemade slaw and tartar sauce—only the best for these delicious tidbits.
2 Doyles Cove Rd., Bearskin Neck, Rockport, 978-546-0006, topdogrockport.com
“Hailing from Connecticut and being inundated with clam shacks on the shoreline, I eagerly sought out the famous Clam Box for comparison but thought, “How much better can this place be?”
But I was already in Boston so I decided to make the 30-minute drive up the North Shore to see what all the hype was about.
So what sets the Clam Box apart from the others besides its takeout box-styled roof?
For one thing, there is a sign that says: Sorry for the inconvenience but we change our oil every day at 2:30 to preserve the freshness and quality of the food. You’re sorry for doing the right thing? No problem at all. So often the flavor of fried seafood is diminished because of dirty oil. The Clam Box is as clean as a whistle and I, for one, am grateful for this attention to detail. You actually can taste the fish.
The famous whole belly clams were, indeed, excellent. Not sandy or briny or mealy in any way. They really stood up well to the dredging and deep-frying process, as did the scallops and shrimp.
Sometimes the reality of the legend equals or exceeds the myth. The Clam Box is Exhibit A.” –Paul