That is not really damning the place with faint praise. We’re talking frozen clams here. At least Al’s has clams under the breading. I have yet to find a clam piece in the other two joints.
There are some good points and if you are having clam withdrawal and can’t get to Woodhouse, Old Port Lobster Shack, Yankee Pier or Sam’s Chowder House ... these aren’t bad.
The breading is good and greaseless and there is a good clam flavor. With the tartar sauce ... satisfying even. For $4.99 the plastic basket is half clams and half crinkle-cut fries which are nicely fried too.
They might not be as good as the clam strips were at Howard Johnson because they really can’t be classified as strips. There are a few strips but maybe 1/3 little clam-pieces.
However, they were a worthy homage to the HoJo clam strip.
They gave me cocktail sauce at first. I thought it was catsup and initially was impressed that Al’s was upscaling the catsup with bits of pepper ... or maybe relish ... then realized it was supposed to be cocktail sauce. I had to ask for tartar sauce and they will give you as many little plastic cups as you like.
The tartar sauce is nothing fancy but good. I didn’t realize how critical the tartar sauce was to the clam piece until the first tartar sauce/clam bit bite. It upgraded the clams from acceptable to good.
However no amount of tartar sauce can save the Red Lobster or Long John Silver fried clam piece because they lack the critical clam ... or perhaps those clams were so embarrassed to be served that way that they escaped the breading. The LJS clams are particulary crummy with a vegetal tasting coating.
Tempted again by either the banana or peanut butter shake ... but fried clams ... tartar sauce ... fries ... there is only so much abuse the arteries can take at one sitting.
Buried in some recent post, someone recommended the clams at Big Al’s. Thanks. Not bad for frozen clam pieces.
Anyplace else serve a servicable clam strip?
Al's Big Burger
437 San Pablo Avenue
Hours: Monday - Saturday - 11 am - 8 pm
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