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Bob's Clam Hut

315 US Route 1, Kittery, ME - (207) 439-4233
Posted By Michael Stern on November 17, 2004 4:35 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.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Tartar Sauce
Fried Clam Basket
Lobster Roll
Clam Chowder

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Posted By Kenneth Louie on September 6, 2012 12:28 PM
I’ve made a few bad decisions in life and eating at Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery, Maine was one of them. I’m from northern New Jersey and planned my family’s trip to Boothbay Harbor, Maine on August 29, 2012 for a wedding via Kittery because I had watched Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives segment about Bob’s Clam Hut and wanted to stop there for lunch before heading to Boothbay.

I guess I would consider this place under the category of “Dive”; it was pretty bad as far as my family was concerned. My wife and I were looking forward to eating the fried whole belly clams, which we’ve had before in Connecticut and other places in Bar Harbor, Maine. This is not the place to go for that. They weren’t the least bit crispy or good-tasting, and almost looked as though they were clam strips because they were so small.

My wife ordered the whole clam basket and I got the medium whole clam side order, which was definitely the wrong choice at $27.95, while my daughter ordered the calamari basket. Nothing was crispy or crunchy at all. Sorry, there was one thing that was crunchy: the oyster crackers before we put them into the medium clam chowder and medium lobster stew that we also ordered.

Again, they were the wrong things to get. Both were terrible, especially the lobster stew, which tasted like the lobster had been cooked to death and sitting there for a while. My daughter loves clam chowder and said this was the worst she’s ever had (she said canned chowder tasted better). She always finishes her chowder wherever she orders it but this time left about 90%. The same was true for my wife’s lobster stew.

We ordered everything that Guy Fieri had on his program. They must have made his order special for TV or his taste buds weren’t working that day. I guess the real food critic can only be yourself. You can’t rely on Internet reviews and you certainly can’t rely on what you see and hear on TV. This place really sucked, to put it mildly, and I now regret wasting our time going there.

And did I tell you that this experience cost me around $90.00? That’s without any drinks (we had our own in a cooler) or tip (wasn’t required). Absolutely not a place for any budget-minded family looking for good food at a reasonable price. I should have driven directly to Boothbay Harbor, where you can get pretty much the same selections, only a whole lot better, and definitely a whole lot cheaper.

I found a place called Kaler’s in Boothbay Harbor where we had dinner, which we thought was excellent. We had a twin one-and-a-quarter-pound lobster dinner, an enormous fisherman’s platter that was fried to perfection (came with whole belly clams, haddock, Maine shrimp, calamari, and scallops), a pound-and-a-half of native steamed clams, onion rings, a Buffalo chicken dinner, a bowl of New England clam chowder, and sodas, all at a cost of only $78.00 including tip.

We went back the next day for lunch with six other people and they all loved it. We all pretty much ordered the same things again with the addition of two lobster rolls, which were overflowing with tender morsels of lobster and mayo on a lettuce leaf on a toasted roll, and it was excellent again.

If not for Guy Fieri’s review, I could have had lunch at Kaler’s that day also instead of the over-priced, terrible meal at Bob’s Clam Hut. And don’t let the crowd at Bob’s fool you. Most people who were there probably got suckered into going because of Guy Fieri’s review on this “Dive” of a joint. If you have the time, go to Kaler’s in Boothbay Harbor, which is about two hours northeast of Bob’s Clam Hut. I guarantee you won’t regret the trip. The cost savings will probably even pay for your fuel cost. If Kaler’s was closer to northern New Jersey, I’d probably be there weekly, this place is that great.
1 star rating
Overall Rating
Clam Chowder
Fried Whole Belly Clam Basket
Lobster Stew
Fried Calamari Basket
Fried Whole Belly Clams

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Posted By Marty Lager on June 28, 2012 2:01 PM
I have always enjoyed visiting Bob's over the past 25 years. The fried claims are always the best. This is a nice place to rest after the outlet shopping in Kittery.
0 star rating
Overall Rating
Fried Clam Basket
Onion Rings
Fried Whole Belly Clam Basket

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Posted By Ross Warren on March 27, 2012 1:22 PM
I've heard about this place for years and finally had the opportunity dine here last weekend. It was fantastic! We went for clams, clams and more clams and were not disappointed! I see why thy are so popular. Mounds and mounds of the best fried clams I have ever had. I had the fried whole belly clams and my wife had the fried clam strips. Absolutely the best i have ever tasted!
4 star rating
Overall Rating
Fried Clam Basket
Fried Whole Belly Clam Basket

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