Restaurants & Bars

Gawd Awful Whole Clams: Clam Bar in Hamptons/Napeague

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Gawd Awful Whole Clams: Clam Bar in Hamptons/Napeague

Bill Strzempek | Aug 29, 2005 11:37 PM

Outside of a rec for a place in Montauk I couldn't find whole bellied clams in Hamptons on this board. So I turned to the internet. This place comes highly recommended by Long Island press & media, so I drove out to try the whole bellied clams one night after the beach. I loved the ambiance: GREAT blues music pouring out over the salty night air and the outdoor tables, what's not to like? I opted to eat at the counter, which I enjoy, getting to watch the cooks, etc. I was there for one thing -- the whole bellied clams -- but decided to start with a "special" that nite: something called "Tuna Bits".

It arrived about 10 minutes later, a plate of six golf ball sized hunks of heavily battered, mahogany brown tuna. I was a little taken aback at the color. When's the last time they changed their oil? But I bit into it, it was piping hot and the tuna was absolutely succulent. The coating was greasy as hell, so I guess it served its purpose of soaking up the oil and protecting the tuna, which again, was delicious. There was only a soso tartar sauce with it, if they had chopped some herbs up in it that would have been terrific but this is a shack after all...

The whole fried clams were an insult. They were also that deep dark brown color having been fried to a fare-the-well. I've never seen a fried clam that dark a color before. What ever used to be bellies were dried up crunchy chewy clumps of tasteless, well, not clam, more like gristle, and I know clams don't have gristle. I'm from Massachusetts and I'm picky about my clams but I am graciously willing to cut some slack when I'm craving them, but these were an embarrassment to bivalvedom. And the fries that came along with it were no saving grace, they were soggy, and to make matters worse the cole slaw was the generic from-the-jug stuff served at every fast food joint in the country in a little paper cocktail sauce cuppette. Why's it so hard to shred cabbage and carrots to make fresh slaw? Great clams and slaw, that's summer.

So why was the parking lot full and the tables packed with customers? The only game in town? The lobster rolls (which I noticed were served on the wrong type of roll)?

In any event, I'm still on the lookout for GREAT whole bellied clams in the Hamptons if anyone knows of some.

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