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Bob's Clam Hut

315 US Route 1, Kittery, ME - (207) 439-4233
Posted By Michael Stern on 11/17/2004 4:35:00 AM
If you are heading into Maine in search of summertime shoreline seafood, the first important stop is just over the New Hampshire border on the West side of Route 1: Bob's Clam Hut, where deep-fried seafood, arrayed in toasted rolls or in cornucopic seafood baskets is the specialty of the house. The aroma in the parking lot and at the outdoor picnic tables to the side of this sprawling clamatorium is car-culture bliss: hot oil bubbling in fry kettles that yield gorgeous tan gnarled whole-belly clams, pillowy scallops, crisp shrimp, snowy-fleshed fish and chips, and some of the crustiest onion rings anywhere along the shore.

Ambience at Bob's isn't what you'd call idyllic. The road is noisy, and directly across it is a cluster of factory outlet stores. One might argue that this is a truly authentic Maine setting, considering that outlet stores are as typical of the state's lower coast as lobster piers. (Still, no one has yet argued that the license plate's Vacationland should be changed to Outletland.)

The method of ordering and getting food at Bob’s is the immemorial Yankee clam hut ritual. You read the posted menu then place your order and pay in advance. If it is summer and you are outside in the bright sun, you will not see anything in the darkened interior, including the person taking your order, and it is all done so fast your eyes don't adjust. No matter. The order-taker hands you a number, then you dawdle outside around the pick-up window (different from the order window) until your number is called over a loud speaker. Dine either from the dashboard of your car, indoors at utilitarian tables and counter, or at one of Bob's blue-checked picnic tables.

Seafood rolls are showpieces at Bob's, most of them featuring one of the hot fried foods heaped into a top-sliced bun and served with pale twiggy French fries, secret recipe tartar sauce, and a couple of pickle slices on a porous paperboard plate. Good as these fried sandwiches may be, the lobster roll is in a class by itself, whether your like yours hot or cold. It costs about two dollars more than a clam roll, and if you like lobster, it is worth it. The bun is nice and warm -- buttered and grilled until toasty golden brown on both sides; the lobster meat inside is either faintly warm or faintly chilled, depending on how you order it. There is plenty of meat, the cold lobster roll bound with just enough mayonnaise, the hot one gilded with melted butter.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Tartar Sauce
Lobster Roll
Fried Clam Basket
Clam Chowder
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Here's a triple platter of fried clams, scallops, and haddock. Buried underneath them is a mound of French fries.
"Here's a triple platter of fried clams, scallops, and haddock. Buried underneath them is a mound of French fries."
Michael Stern





A close view of Bob's hot lobster roll shows just how fresh and moist the meat is.
"A close view of Bob's hot lobster roll shows just how fresh and moist the meat is."
Michael Stern


A full shot of the hot lobster roll shows just how much meat is piled into the bun. For those who like lobster without the fuss of cracking shells and sucking meat, this is the ideal food.
"A full shot of the hot lobster roll shows just how much meat is piled into the bun. For those who like lobster without the fuss of cracking shells and sucking meat, this is the ideal food."
Michael Stern


The lobster stew is buttery-rich and full of fresh lobster.
"The lobster stew is buttery-rich and full of fresh lobster."
Cliff Strutz


Bob's onion rings are elegant, a worthwhile extra-cost option to any platter of fried seafood.
"Bob's onion rings are elegant, a worthwhile extra-cost option to any platter of fried seafood."
Michael Stern


Bob's tartar sauce is excellent, but when we spotted tartar sauce ice cream listed on the blackboard, we were skeptical. It's only a joke. The little green nuggets in sweet cream may look like pickle bits, but they taste just like pistachio nuts.
"Bob's tartar sauce is excellent, but when we spotted tartar sauce ice cream listed on the blackboard, we were skeptical. It's only a joke. The little green nuggets in sweet cream may look like pickle bits, but they taste just like pistachio nuts."
Michael Stern


The cool Maine lobster roll:  lots of meat, and just enough mayo to bind it.
"The cool Maine lobster roll: lots of meat, and just enough mayo to bind it."
Michael Stern


To go with that clam platter, you need Bob's tartar sauce, some of the best on the shoreline.
"To go with that clam platter, you need Bob's tartar sauce, some of the best on the shoreline."
Michael Stern


There is no table service at Bob's. You place your order at the order window, then stand around on this well-worn floor waiting for your number to be called.
"There is no table service at Bob's. You place your order at the order window, then stand around on this well-worn floor waiting for your number to be called."
Michael Stern


Apparently, after being rescued, Gilligan, Ginger, and the Skipper made Bob's Clam Hut their first stop.
"Apparently, after being rescued, Gilligan, Ginger, and the Skipper made Bob's Clam Hut their first stop."
Cliff Strutz


We are partial to any restaurant with a motto. You can buy T-shirts emblazoned with this one.
"We are partial to any restaurant with a motto. You can buy T-shirts emblazoned with this one."
Michael Stern


Downeast, this system is formally called
"Downeast, this system is formally called "Eat in the Rough."
Michael Stern


According to the menu,
"According to the menu, "Bob's Clam Hut's mission is to satisfy our customers with great food and fast service in a clean casual Maine setting." Mission accomplished!"
Michael Stern



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