Thursday, March 01, 2012
She had told me that apart from the obvious - that they were on the coast of Maine, where lobster is world-famous - they also had a unique way of cooking the lobster, which she had found superior to any other method: boiled in fresh, clean seawater over a wood fire. They also avoided fried foods, a tasty, albeit unhealthy, way that most roadside shacks cook their seafood. I never did taste that lobster or clams...
I, like so many, do love coastal and island destinations. One of my favorite destinations out of New York City is Cape Cod and the neighboring islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. With seagulls cawing and flying overhead, a maritime air and distinctive grasses and trees along with the telltale sandy soil, the presence of the ocean makes itself known everywhere you go.
And as with most oceanside locales, with the beach comes seafood, often fresh, local seafood. For those who eat fish, informal roadside clam shacks are one of the great joys of vacationing near the ocean.
At the Cape, there are large visitor, local, and year-round communities, so clam shacks and seafood restaurants are ubiquitous. One of my strongest memories is Menemsha, a fishing village at the southwestern tip of Martha's Vineyard. Fishing boats moor just steps from seafood eateries for the freshest seafood imaginable, eaten on the spot, sitting wherever one can, even atop lobster traps.
In New York City, one will certainly need to set the bar lower and travel some to recreate the clam shack experience. A flavor of this kind of place can be found in places such as the beach communities of Brooklyn, Queens, and City Island, many with local fishermen. In 2009, I located the Stella Maris fishing tackle shop in Sheepshead Bay.
I had traveled by Joe's Lobster House in today's photo a number of times while touring Staten Island. A bit put off by its location on Hylan Boulevard, a busy thoroughfare, I waited until recently before stepping in. It has the plain, down-to-basics, no frills decor of the classic clam shack. Fish is sold, along with sit-down restaurant service. Reviews are generally quite favorable, and I'll have to go back a few times and try a variety of dishes to judge it fairly. It's not the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound on the Maine coast, a shack in Cape Cod, or Menemsha Harbor in Martha's Vineyard. It's New York City, and it is a Lobster House :)