At Bob’s Clam Hut, the aroma in the parking lot and at the outdoor picnic tables to the side of the sprawling clamatorium is car-culture bliss: hot oil bubbling in fry kettles that yield gorgeous tan whole-belly clams, pillowy scallops, buff 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.
The method of ordering and getting food at Bob’s is the traditional Yankee clam hut ritual. 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. The fried fare is good, but this also is a fine place for a lobster roll, hot or cold. 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.