Ah, summer! A time when we lucky Bay Staters can visit a clam shack and partake of the ocean’s bounty, a time to eat in a restaurant where shorts and T-shirts are the required dress, and flip-flops and sneakers are A-OK.
With an eye toward summer, my guests and I paid several visits to the Lobster Pot in Wareham. (If “Wareham” doesn’t say “beach” to you, it helps to know that little Wareham has 54 miles of coastline.)
The Lobster Pot’s interior is one big, nautically decorated, spic-and-span room with spacious booths and long tables that easily accommodated 10 of us. It has two ordering counters, one for fried/baked seafood and one for steamed/boiled seafood, complete with a lobster tank.
While the menu offers the standard lobster shack fare, it also stretches the boundaries.
On one visit, I ordered steamed mussels ($10), a dish that more New Englanders should try. What arrived was a huge mound of mussels, 43 of them (I counted). Sweet and tasty, they reminded me of my visit to a Paris café, where I ate them with pommes frites. Heavenly.
My companion had the fried scallop plate ($19). The lovely breaded scallop chunks were hot and delectable. Fries and coleslaw rounded out our meals. Clam shacks are usually stingy with tartar sauce, but the Lobster Pot served enough to cover the seafood.
On the visit with my nine guests, we ordered across the menu. One guest gave a hearty thumbs-up to the Barnstable Bay oysters on the half-shell (three for $6). I decided on a cup of clam chowder ($4.29) and the fried clam plate ($19). The chowder was lovely, just thick and creamy enough, with small cubes of tender potatoes and bits of clams that were not chewy. It’s not made with bacon or pork, so it’s fine for pescatarians.
As for the fried clams, they were tender, without their necks, and not rubbery or sandy. In short, the best I’ve ever had.
Several guests ordered the lobster roll ($16) and loved it. The filling is a generous amount of tasty lobster meat, moistened with just a bit of mayonnaise and nestled in a roll. The roll doesn’t come with a side, so you may want to order one if you’re extra hungry.
Fish and chips ($13) is a good choice here. Ours came with one huge piece of breaded haddock and four smaller pieces. It was absolutely delicious and a good value.
We also ordered the baked scallops ($25). Although a little more expensive, it was worth the money. Topped with bread crumbs and a wedge of lemon and drizzled with butter, the scallops were hot and tasty, and the bread crumbs and butter combination had the consistency of shortbread, a wonderful surprise.
I’m a North Shore puffy-batter onion ring fan. I ordered the rings ($2.25 for a small) here, but they followed the Cape and South Coast model of a thin, crispy exterior surrounding thin-sliced rings.
We ordered soft drinks, beer, and wine. Bottled wine is available, including Krug Champagne for that extra-special lobster dinner.
Our party had few complaints. One guest thought the ice cream ($3.75) was delicious but pricey. Another wished the meal had been served on china.
Everyone loved the food and the atmosphere. The background music included songs by Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin, favorites of the owners.
One drawback to visiting with a large party is that the meals don’t come all at once if the guests pay separately, so you may find some of your party eating before you.
Owners and brothers Guy and Joe Marino are connected to the sea by their grandfather, an Italian immigrant whose boat still fishes out of New Bedford. They started this restaurant 37 years ago and have been part of their family’s restaurant business since they were wee ones.
The focus is on quality, Joe told me. They said they purchase only the flavorful, hard-shelled lobsters from deep in the Atlantic Ocean, not the cheaper, less flavorful soft-shelled ones. By using top-quality seafood, they said, the food can be prepared simply to bring out its natural flavor.
They said they patronize local businesses for their seafood and ingredients, such as cream, milk, and butter from a local dairy. They cook everything from scratch, from the clam chowder to the coleslaw.
Over the years, they’ve seen their customers’ children grow up and return with their own families. Recently, four generations of one family dined at the restaurant.
When you visit, look for the two Godzilla-sized lobsters on the walls. They look like plastic, but they’re real, caught in the waters of Cape Cod Bay.
This summer, Wareham is celebrating its 275th anniversary, and the nearby Cape Cod Canal its 100th. If you’re in the area for these events, check out the Lobster Pot. Its food has made several “Best of” lists. It might make yours.