Day: November 10th, 2007

Clams on the Cape

Saturday, November 10th, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Family, Travel

This weekend, we revived the Cape Cod tradition for what may be the last time for a long while.

J and J drove in to pick me up just as the sun was rising over Central Park this dreary, chilly morning. As we made our way north, we stopped just once, somewhere in Connecticut — all the excuse I needed to pick up an Egg McMuffin on the road. No matter how I feel about the rest of McDonald’s menu, the McMuffin retains a soft spot in my heart. Something about the synergy of warm, chewy English muffin, salty Canadian bacon, day-glo melted cheese and unnaturally round griddled egg.  It’s a classic breakfast combination I’ve come to associate with traveling, since I rarely indulge in these mini-sandwiches outside of rest stops and airports.  Now if the fast food chain would just bring back the deep-fried apple pie

Over the Sagamore Bridge and onto the cloudy Cape:

Cape Cod

At the Cove, we attended to the business of our weekend. Strange to think with how little fanfare two decades of tradition is dispatched.  (Hawaii, here we come!)

I was struck by how different Cape Cod is in the quiet season. The usually bustling Route 28 was half deserted. The seafood shacks, ice cream parlors, salt water taffy stands and mini-golf courses regularly teeming with families in the summer, were all closed for the season, leaving behind an eerie landscape of empty parking lots. Happily, our old standby Seafood Sam’s was still open for business.

We couldn’t bid adieu to the Cape without at least one more visit. Locals and visitors have been flocking to this place for some of the best fried seafood in the area since 1974, when the first Seafood Sam’s opened in a tiny, former laundromat with just six employees. Three decades later, three of those original six now own and operate the mini-chain of Sam’s restaurants. In the years since we’ve been going, we’ve seen the Yarmouth location evolve from a glorified shack with several open-air benches to a full casual-dining restaurant. There’s still no table service, but the airy main seating area is now enclosed within solid walls (vs. the former combination of sturdy canvas and clear plastic) and the bathroom was moved from outside and around the corner, to just down the hall from the dining room.  What hasn’t changed: food orders are still placed with the cashier, and arrive piping hot on disposable plates; the faux-wooden trays are scattered with clear plastic cups of tartar sauce and wedges of lemon.

Seafood Sam’s

Another advantage of visiting off-peak: no lines, no waiting.  Well, no waiting to place your order, anyway; the seafood is still fried fresh — sure they have broiled items on the menu, but why? — but now instead of hovering by the formica-topped counter as you wait for your food, the cashier hands you a red plastic lobster that flashes when the order is ready for pick-up.  Like this:

Seafood Sam’s lobsters

No lobsters were harmed in the making of these lollipops:

Seafood Sam’s chocolate lobsters

Fried clam strips. These decidedly aren’t the fancy, succulent whole bellies version, but more the shack-on-the-beach variety, best suited for serving in a paper boat (or here, on a paper plate, over fries).  I still love them.  J conjectured that it may be that perfect proportion of hot, crispy fried batter to chewy clam center that I find so appealing.  She may be right.

Seafood Sam’s clam strips

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