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Clam Castle

1324 Boston Post Rd., Madison, CT - (203) 245-4911
Posted By Michael Stern on 10/5/2015 4:18:00 AM
This clam castle is in fact a clam shack, and we mean that in the nicest possible way. A breezy roadside eatery with a pleasant dining room adjacent to the order windows and picnic tables set back from Route One, it has been a significant shoreline source of fried clams and clam chowder for more than half a century.

The whole-belly fried clams are plump, juicy and sweet with vividly seasoned crust that is brittle but virtually melts on the tongue when you crunch into it. For those who like only a hint of clam flavor as part of the fried-food package, the Castle also offers clam strips. While not the bivalve connoisseur’s choice, these strips are in fact quite tasty … reminding us of the fried clams that originally helped make Howard Johnson’s famous.

There’s a full array of other fried seafood, as well as seafood salads, burgers and hot dogs for the fry-basket-frowner; but in our book there are two non-fried things that must be eaten. First, chowder: a brisk, oceany brew typical of the southern New England shoreline, bright with clam flavor and ballasted by the starchy goodness of potatoes. Second, the lobster roll! A striking Connecticut beauty, it is loaded with immense, butter-glistening pieces of meat, many of them two- or three-bite size (no shreds or stringy stuff here!) Barely holding them all is a split-top Yankee bun, so fresh and soft inside that it absorbs massive amounts of butter-lobster flavor and is impossible to stop eating even after the big hunks of lobster are gone. Its outside has been brushed with butter and grilled to a golden crisp.

The food is better than ever, and service has gone a bit upscale since the Clam Castle formally became Donahue's Clam Castle a few years back. You still place your order and pay at the counter, but now a member of the waitstaff will bring it to you at the table. Everything is still presented on or in disposable dishware.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
fried clams
Onion Rings
Lobster Roll
clam chowder
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Clam Castle's big, succulent, whole-belly fried clams are clad in crust that is brilliantly seasoned. These are among Connecticut's best. They come with tartar sauce that is very pickly and not the least bit sweet.
"Clam Castle's big, succulent, whole-belly fried clams are clad in crust that is brilliantly seasoned. These are among Connecticut's best. They come with tartar sauce that is very pickly and not the least bit sweet."
Michael Stern





We don't know of another lobster roll with hunks of meat so large. It is fresh, sweet, and buttery.
"We don't know of another lobster roll with hunks of meat so large. It is fresh, sweet, and buttery."
Michael Stern


While the inside of the bun is soft and absorbent, the exterior, having been buttered and grilled, provides delicious crunch.
"While the inside of the bun is soft and absorbent, the exterior, having been buttered and grilled, provides delicious crunch."
Michael Stern


A lobster roll with irresistible, abundant thin-sliced onion rings, lobster bisque, and red birch beer.  The slaw is great and not too creamy.  The taste of Connecticut on a tray.
"A lobster roll with irresistible, abundant thin-sliced onion rings, lobster bisque, and red birch beer. The slaw is great and not too creamy. The taste of Connecticut on a tray."
Mark Kaupe


The clam is an animal that usually doesn't have much personality; but at Clam Castle, the bivalves on the sign seem to be happy critters. There always have been flags on the castle's parapets, but now they fly the letter 'D,' standing for the Mr. Dononhue who owns the place.
"The clam is an animal that usually doesn't have much personality; but at Clam Castle, the bivalves on the sign seem to be happy critters. There always have been flags on the castle's parapets, but now they fly the letter 'D,' standing for the Mr. Dononhue who owns the place."
Michael Stern


On a nice summer day, many customers eat outdoors at picnic tables, or in their cars; but Clam Castle also has a dining room inside. And believe that sign when it says fresh. When you dip a spoon into Clam Castle chowder, you taste the marine sweetness of the ocean.
"On a nice summer day, many customers eat outdoors at picnic tables, or in their cars; but Clam Castle also has a dining room inside. And believe that sign when it says fresh. When you dip a spoon into Clam Castle chowder, you taste the marine sweetness of the ocean."
Michael Stern


Good ol' stop from camping
"Good ol' stop from camping"
Marc



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