In Kennebunkport - one of my favorite towns in Maine, you'll spot this tiny little shack in the middle of the touristy part of the town. You can't miss it - it's right over the bridge, most likely with a line throughout most parts of the day. It has been highly rated by many, even Food Network. It's a tiny, walk-up only service joint that serves up some seriously fresh seafood. But what makes that different than any other clam or lobster shack in Maine? Is it worth the hype? Let's explore.
For about $19, you can eat one of The Clam Shack's famous lobster "rolls". I say roll in quotations, because it's not served on a traditional split top hot dog roll. Instead they serve up their lobster meat on a locally sourced hamburger-style white bun from Reilly's Bakery. Although the bun is fairly basic, it's a few notches better than the standard processed bun. The lobster meat is the true star of the roll here - as it always should be. The Clam Shack steams their lobsters in ocean water with no other seasonings which allows for the lobster to shine. It is picked and shelled completely by hand then evenly distributed into one pound of perfectly balanced tail, claw and knuckle. The meat was perfectly cooked and not too chewy, as I sometimes find if their is too much tail.
Upon ordering, you have two choices for condiments - mayonnaise or butter, or you can go bold and do both. I chose the butter, but I did see many come up with the mayonnaise. I like how the mayonnaise was spread on the bun instead of mixed in with the lobster meat as many places do. As for the butter, they use a locally made butter (Kate's) which completes this 100% made-in-Maine roll. A smear of the butter on the bun, followed by a quick face down on the grill and you've got it. No frills here, served up on traditional picnic style take out containers.
We also ordered some fried clam strips. For an establishment that is supposedly known for cranking out high quality seafood, I expected a homemade tartar sauce that would pair nicely... serving Ken's was a bit off-putting. Although they were perfectly crispy and definitely tasty, they weren't the best I've ever had. I still think that The Ramp in Kennebunkport takes the cake for their fried clams.
Overall, I liked The Clam Shack. Would I go back? Maybe. But I'm in no hurry. There are so many other places in Maine to explore. I did enjoy their lobster roll but felt it was lacking a tiiiny bit in portion size for the price. It did not come with any sides, and it wasn't enough meat for me to be completely full. I am a huge supporter of them using locally sourced products right down to the butter - so they definitely get some props there. (Still bummed about Ken's tartar though...WHY?) That being said, if you're looking for some ridiculously fresh lobster, I would recommend trying this place out. Just be warned that it might be a bit expensive. It's definitely a bit of a tourist trap but it's worth a visit to see for yourself.
On that lobster roll hunt again...