So it's near the end of July and I haven't had any fried clams since last summer. I'm thinking of a weekend trip north to Essex or Ipswich, but, geez, there got to be good clams closer. Maybe it's time to try Dairy Joy in Weston. Or give Summer Shack another chance. And then I realized I could just take a walk from work over to Legal Sea in Park Square (i.e. the one across from the Transportation Bldg) and satisfy my craving.
No fried clams on the lunch menu, but what the heck: I spring for the $18.95 dinner plate, substituting a salad for fr. fries (normally I'd sub with onion strings, but having had fries at lunch yesterday, I thought I'd be virtuous).
The salad was a bit disappointing: a mix of lettuces only; I liked the old Legal salad with a few tomatoes, cukes and some onion better.
The clams arrived soon after. Not nearly as big a plate as I'd imagined for the price, even though I know they're expensive these days. But more disappointing than the portion were the clams themselves. Though they were fresh and tasty, there wasn't a single fat belly in the batch, just a few far-from-plump ones.
I ate every morsel, but when a matitre d' came by to ask how my meal was, I told him in that I was a bit bummed not to have received any of the fat bellies I was expecting. He asked if I'd like another serving and I said sure (I can eat a lot of fried clams and, as I said, the original portion was on the modest side).
After he left my waitress came by to remove my plates and silverware. I told her about the skinny clam situation and she wondered if maybe I didn't get as many as I wanted because she'd brought me the lunch, not dinner portion. To which I explained that it wasn't the portion size but the bellies I was bellyaching about.
Maitre d' returns soon after with a half-dozen or so clams and some more rolls (I like piling the clams on 'em for a clam roll effect). The new clams are the same as the previous ones: little bellies. He tells me that's all they've got -- and he wonders why but doesn't know the answer. And, he agrees, they're not the lucious fat ones. But I'm happy enough to have a few more clams to chomp down.
When my waitress brings the bill, I note that I've been charged $18.95, the full dinner price. I ask her if this is a mistake, since she'd said she'd gottem me a lunch clam plate. She doesn't know the answer and goes off to check. She returns and tells me that there is no lunch clam plate. No big deal, I say, but I wanted to know for future reference how big a portion to expect with the dinner, since the serving wasn't huge. She agrees that it wasn't a whomping big serving -- and then observes that maybe the portion looked smallish because it came naked, that is, not placed as usual on top of a big pile of fries. Brilliant! The secret of creating the illusion of a bountiful portion of fried seafood revealed.
Which leaves me wondering: Are there fat juicy clam bellies out there to be had? Or is this some temporary, seasonal clam thing? I thought I was treated pretty well at Legal, all in all, but I'm still craving a great summer fried clam meal.