I got a bee in my bonnet to try a shad bake, as it seemed to speak to my urges to experience seasonal food in an event sort of way. I heard the rotary club in essex, CT was holding a shad bake fund raiser for $20pp last night. They held it at the elementary school there. They built a big fire in the parking lot, raked out the coals so they had a pile of embers about 12 feet in diameter, then set up the planks with shad fillets nailed to them around the fire. They periodically added thin pieces of wood to the coals to make a lot of smoke and heat. They ran the nails through little strips of salt pork to hold the fish down. Some guy had an interesting device that they used to pull the nails out after it was done. I was told it took about 40 mins to cook the fish.
It was very good! I've had shad roe before, but never shad meat. It was medium flavored fish with a nice smokey flavor. The salt pork bitzles were fab. I hear it's very hard to debone shad, hence its relative unpopularity, but I only had one small bone.
You had a choice of BBQ chicken, if you didn't want fish, and all meals came with potato salad, green salad and very good apple pie w/ cheddar slice. The small town event scene was fun too. It was BYOB, as well. Definitely a good time.
While I was in the area, I also tried out "the place" in Guilford. Those special roast clams are great, and the grilled corn is good too. It must be really good when corn is in season around there.
I also had a 'hot lobster roll' at Abbott's in Noank. The lobster was really flavorless. It was slow there on Friday afternoon. Maybe the lobster was cooked long before it made my sandwich. I wouldn't pay $11+ for another one. Great outdoor sitting area next to the water, though.
We tried out the Griswold Inn on Friday night. The taproom was fun. It's a cool old bar, with a little hokey band that everyone sings along with. But the food in the restaurant is pretty expensive, and not worth it. My husband was marveling that he never knew duck could be so dry and flavorless. I think maybe they tried to remove too much fat before 'spit roasting'. The clams casino were good, but the escargot was pretty boring. Plus we weren't sure how much of a dose of lead we were getting from the pewter escargot dish. My salmon special was just OK.
I'd go there for a drink again, but I'd skip the food.
But I'm still thinking about clams from 'the place'.