Ken’s Place

Drive-In | Seafood
excellent
Worth a detour
Michael Stern | July 10, 2017
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Don’t get me wrong when I say that I like Ken’s Place better than Ken’s food. Some of the food is very good indeed. Crumb-crusted, whole-belly clams are classics, served in abundance, and the house-made tartar sauce available with them is a revelatory seafood companion. Its pickle bits are tart and crisp, making it so good that I was dipping French fries in it before the meal was done.

Haddock also is commendable — big slabs of it, either baked or fried. The latter version is a nice balance of crunchy crust and slick, flaky meat inside. Continue reading

Don’t get me wrong when I say that I like Ken’s Place better than Ken’s food. Some of the food is very good indeed. Crumb-crusted, whole-belly clams are classics, served in abundance, and the house-made tartar sauce available with them is a revelatory seafood companion. Its pickle bits are tart and crisp, making it so good that I was dipping French fries in it before the meal was done.

Haddock also is commendable — big slabs of it, either baked or fried. The latter version is a nice balance of crunchy crust and slick, flaky meat inside. The twin lobster plate is a righteous indulgence, even if the lobsters can be watery. At the raw bar, you can stand and knock back fine, freshly opened oysters by the dozen.

Some items I’ve sampled are less felicitous. Batter-dipped fried clams are for batter lovers only; the clams themselves are smothered by their coat. Ken’s lobster roll contains plenty of meat in a nicely toasted bun. It’s a decent roll, but in this region of lobster-roll excellence, decent doesn’t cut the mustard.

Having said all that, and re-emphasizing that a devotee of traditional Yankee drive-in fare will find plenty of yummy things to eat, I must admit that what delights me more about Ken’s is the place itself. It is a vintage roadside enterprise (dating back to 1927), the sort of breezy summertime restaurant to which generations of locals and regular visitors have come to eat, drink, and be merry.

Service is in-the-rough with a curious twist. Once you step up to the order window, place your order and pay, you are given a number, then you are told at which of four different windows your meal will be presented. It is your job to take it to a picnic table (indoors or out), and it is expected that customers will take their own postprandial debris to one of the large trash containers provided. All food is served on disposable dishware.

Dishes to try
Ken’s Place, Fried Clams in Crumbs
Fried Clams in Crumbs
Must-Try
Big, sweet, whole-belly clams encased in crisp crumb coats
Ken’s Place, Tartar Sauce
Tartar Sauce
Must-Try
Crisp, tart pickles give Ken's tarter sauce brilliant smack. Or you can get a pack of Kraft's.
Ken’s Place, Fried Haddock
Fried Haddock
Must-Try
Inside a crisp crumb coat is a slab of flaky sweet haddock.
Ken’s Place, Twin Lobster Platter
Twin Lobster Platter
Twin lobster plate, featuring juicy soft-shells
Ken’s Place, Lobster Roll
Lobster Roll
A perfectly fine Maine lobster salad roll, but not a highlight of Ken's menu
Ken’s Place, Lobster Salad
Lobster Salad
"I don't want to fight a lobster," said friend Becky, who chose the easy-to-eat lobster salad.
Ken’s Place, Fried Clams in Batter
Fried Clams in Batter
Battered clams are for batter fans. Clam flavor and texture are overwhelmed.
Directions and Hours
Information and Policies
Seasons
Summer
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
Yes
Outdoor Seating
Yes
Reservations Accepted
No
Delivery Available
No
Takeout Counter
Yes