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New England Shore Dinner

Along the Northeast's Atlantic coast, the term "shore dinner" doesn't just mean some seafood on a plate. Descendant of Algonquin clambakes in which clams and corn were layered in seaweed over hot stones, it is a mighty feast, traditionally built around lobster and clams, but also including red potatoes and corn on the cob boiled in the same salty water as the lobster. Fried fish, grilled sausage, deep-fried clam cakes, and baked Indian pudding or strawberry shortcake complete the picture. Maine is where shore dinner is best, but this route starts with a couple of favorite shore dinner destinations in Southern New England.

Abbott's Lobster in the Rough
Champlin's Seafood Deck
Woodman's of Essex
Mabel's Lobster Claw
Clam Shack
Lobster Shack
Harraseeket Lobster
Five Islands Lobster Company
Young's Lobster Pound
Beal's Lobster Pier
Abbott's Lobster in the Rough - Noank , CT
Abbott’s is a long-running lobster picnic. Hugely crowded on nice summer evenings, it specializes in warm-weather shore dinners. Start with bracing, steel-gray chowder, then littlenecks on the half shell and/or steamers or mussels by the bucket with broth and butter for dipping. The centerpiece of the feast is a big, steamed lobster in whatever size you think you can handle (and afford).
Champlin's Seafood Deck - Narragansett , RI
While the fried clams are good, we were far more impressed by the fried flounder, a broad filet of sweet, moist meat encased in an elegant crust. The flounder is available by the piece or as half of a fish and chips plate. While the French fries on that plate are fine, we highly recommend substituting boiled red potatoes, which are cream-textured with an earthy spud flavor.
Woodman's of Essex - Essex , MA
Woodman's says it invented fried clams. They are lush and crunchy, the crust playing harmony to the sweet, soft lode of bivalvular goodness it contains. Although Woodman’s clams are available by the pint, or on a bun (known as a clam roll), the preferred way to enjoy them is as a platter, which means accompanied by both French fries and onion rings. It’s a deep-fried pig-out beyond any nutritional law or reason!
Mabel's Lobster Claw - Kennebunkport , ME
Start by spooning into creamy chowder crowded with pieces of clam and potato, then tackle a good-size lobster perched atop a pile of steamers and accompanied by broth and butter. Corn, potatoes, and beets are available on the side. If fudge cake is available, it must not be ignored; but the essential dessert is peanut butter ice cream pie. The lobster roll is top-of-the-line, served with fries and slaw on an actual, non-disposable plate.
Clam Shack - Kennebunkport , ME
Lobster rolls at the Clam Shack are abundant. Meat from an entire one-pound lobster is picked from the shell in immense pieces (no shreds here), loaded into a delicious locally baked roll, then drizzled with melted butter (or, if you wish, dolloped with mayonnaise). Al fresco dining only.
Lobster Shack - Cape Elizabeth , ME
Here is the most dramatic possible setting for lobster-eating – the water's edge, framed by a pair of lighthouses at the entrance to Casco Bay. A restaurant has perched here since the 1920s, and while you might find better fried clams and lobster rolls along the coast, you will find no more inspired place to eat them than at one of the picnic tables marshaled on a flat patch of sandy land between the take-out counter and huge rocks where the ocean splashes in.
Harraseeket Lobster - Freeport , ME
Dine at a picnic table overlooking the Freeport town harbor, the meal perfumed by the salt smell of the ocean and serenaded by the sound of an American flag flapping overhead. This is one of the nicest places west of Bath to plow into a shoreline meal with a glorious view. The specialty is boiled-to-order lobsters (also available live, to go), but don’t ignore the seafood baskets and don't forget to have a Whoopie Pie for dessert.
Five Islands Lobster Company - Georgetown , ME
Firm, resilient lobsters fairly burst out of their shell when squeezed with a nutcracker; juices dripping onto corn and potatoes add saltwater radiance to the whole meal.
Young's Lobster Pound - Belfast , ME
Young's Lobster Pound is a bustling harborside building with tanks that can hold 30,000 lobsters, sold live and to go or steamed to order for eating here at picnic tables with a view of Penobscot Bay.
Beal's Lobster Pier - Southwest Harbor , ME
Beal's is a no-frills lobster pound on a working Southwest Harbor pier. Place your lobster order inside, then head outside to find a table and wait for your number to be called. There are outdoor stands to buy things like chowder and ice cream. The lobsters are unimpeachable. After lunch, go through the back doors and take a stroll on the pier.

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