Adventures of a Gastronome in Training (GIT)

One amateur foodie's quest for culinary enlightenment. Musings on cooking, dining, food products, basically all things edible are fair game.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Clam and Cod Quest

Manhattan is not the place to find a quality fried clam hut. The fried clams in NYC tend to be strips, not bellies, and the freshness is lacking. I also am yet to come across standout fish and chips here, although I think this is an easier quest. Anyhow, we took advantage of our 2nd annual trip to Nantucket to look for these two dishes along the way. We were not looking for a four star experience. We wanted crusty, New England servers working in slightly over-priced tourist friendly restaurants that still managed to turn out fresh, simple, fried coastal favorites.

Mainly because I am not down with those small planes, we drove to Hyannis and took the ferry over. This ended up being a blessing in disguise because the best clam roll and fish and chips of the trip were found a stones throw from the ferry dock at the Black Cat Tavern. However, I am getting ahead of myself…

Arno's in Nantucket

We tried two other restaurants in Nantucket for their versions of the clam roll and fish and chips. The first was at Arno’s on Main Street. Here, we had the most expensive and disappointing renditions of the trip. The clams were clearly tired and not nearly as fresh as the others. The cod was hardly flavorful and even mealy. The batter ended up soggy and very thin. Very disappointing. I felt like a tourist who had been taken.

The Tavern in Nantucket

Our next try on Nantucket was at the Tavern on the Straight Wharf. I feared that I had stepped again into tourist food hell. However, this was an improvement, but still not up to Black Cat standards. Here the clams were fresher and more flavorful. They stopped short of spewing tasty clam juice, but were not a bad dish. The fish and chips were much better seasoned with a thicker batter. The cod was flaky and firm. For Nantucket, this was the nest of our very narrow survey.

Black Cat Tavern

The best and brightest of our samplings was, as I mentioned, at the Black Cat Tavern in Hyannis. This place is decked out in the interior with portraits of cats dressed up as historical figures such as Henry the Eighth and the Earl of Sandwich. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the harbor views. Here the clams were bursting with flavor, juices, slime, and everything else Marty was looking for in a fried clam. We ended up eating here twice both on our trip out and back. I was knocked out by their fish and chips. They gave me a thick hunk of cod that tasted fresh and was wrapped in a crispy well-done batter. I didn’t even need to pick up the salt shaker. The texture was firm and flaky, and there was hardly a hint of grease.

As I said, this was a very narrow survey. I think we’ll try to cover more ground next year in Nantucket, but I think we’ve found our place in Hyannis.


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Jennie/Female. Lives in United States/Jennie Auster/New York, speaks English. Eye color is blue.