When it gets hot like it has been this week, we often look for a lunch-oriented excuse to head north to towns with water breezes. Today Choate Bridge Pub and fried clams were calling, but I recently ran across a post by Infomaniac, needling me to visit Park Lunch . Well, long story short, a major thank you to Infoman. After years of hearing positive comparisons between the fried clams at Choate Bridge Pub and the Clam Box (both in Ipswich), and Park Lunch in Newburyport, we finally understand what all the fuss is about!
PL is a funky townie sports bar, surrounded by a spacious parking lot across from a big park along the river, on the westerly outskirts of town.Complete with knotty pine and pennants from
the big ones along with 'more colleges that i never heard of in my life.' Big clean bathrooms, comfy booths and tables, tv's over the bar on one side of the dining room.
Our waitress was professional, pleasant and efficient ; food came quickly, and we were absolutely delighted by the fried clams and the seafood chowder.
The latter was light cream based, with various seafood broths,and a good balance of shrimp, fish, potatoes +.... No herbs, just a simple, clean, traditional style chowder with quality ingredients (and not goopy or weak flavored.) The Park Lunch fried clams were pristinely fresh, sweet, medium size,lightly coated with a thin crust,expertly fried in clean canola oil (none of the sticky mouth feel of beef tallow and no hint of oil that should have been changed hours ago) and justly portioned. While this was only our first visit there, it's easy to say that, for us, the Park Lunch clams were the equal or better than Choate Bridge Pub.(Clam Box moves to 3rd place.) Cole slaw was much better than most; fresh and crisp, not cloyingly sweet or swimming in mayo. Sour cream and Chive fries were a tasty change from regular fries; didn't need ketchup, and were perfectly cooked. So, judging strictly on : fried clams, seafood chowder, fries and cole slaw, Park Lunch has moved into our top spot. Wow, what a treat!
After our super lunch, we explored around town, admiring the downtown architecture and beautifully restored houses, and water gazing by the river. Newburyport is one of my 2 favorite Massachusetts towns (along with Marblehead) for scenery, water proximity and well-preserved historic character, and now we have a new 'fried clams and chowder' place for lunch- another reason to escape the heat of Boston for the river breezes of this wonderful respite. It just keeps getting better and better in this town!
Now, when we next return, where should we have dinner (for excellent higher end food and dependable service)?: Ceia or Brine in Newbport; or Number 8 Kitchen or Phat Cats in Amesbury?
Plse advise, and thank you!