The Oxford Creamery is a vintage blue-awning cafe by the side of the road. Its sign features the image of a big ice cream cone. Pay attention to the words above that cone: “Lobster Rolls.” An Oxford Creamery lobster roll is one of the great bargains in the Roadfood universe. While you can easily pay twice as much for a lobster roll elsewhere in the region, you will seldom come across one half as good. The amount of meat and its quality are astonishing: large, resilient segments of claw, tail, and knuckle seem to be everything good in a pound-plus sea critter. The magnificent parts are just barely cool – not cold or icy – and veiled in a thin film of mayonnaise that provides a gauzy halo for a tidal wave of oceanic sweetness. Mounted on fresh leaves of lettuce in a split-top bun and sided by French fries and cole slaw, this sandwich is a Yankee shore archetype.
Not to slight the clams – whole belly clams, of course (although strips are available). These, too, are jumbos, cased in crisp, brightly-seasoned crust and oozing flavor. The bill of seafare also includes scallops, fish & chips, shrimp and a crab roll. Fish frowners (why are you here?) can have a hot dog, a hamburger, a linguica (sausage) roll, or any number of familiar sandwiches.
As for ice cream, a couple dozen flavors are available, but what mesmerizes me is all the various ways to have ice cream made into something special: a reflection of the unique South Coast way of creating and naming such concoctions to the beat of a different drum. For example, a milk shake is simply milk and flavoring. Add ice cream and it becomes a frappe (what is known as a milk shake in the rest of the world, except in Rhode Island, where it is called a cabinet). A milk float is a frappe that is not blended. A freeze is like a frappe, but made with soda rather than milk. And a soda float is an unblended freeze. Got that? I had a coffee frappe, and it was thick and creamy and delicious.
Long-time locals will tell you that hardly anything has changed since this little charmer opened as Gulf Hill Ice Cream in 1931. In the hands of Ken and Liz Ackerman since 2003, staffed by a team of happy high school and college kids, offering seats at picnic tables in a nearby shaded grove, Oxford Creamery is a sublime summer eat-shack experience.