Whole Belly Clam Roll ($16)
Gigantic whole belly clams are fried as expertly as at any New England clam shack—that is, greaseless, tender, crisp, and hot—then stuffed into a buttered toasted New England-style top-split hot dog bun. Even my mom, a self-proclaimed fried clam perfectionist gave the roll here her stamp of approval.
French Fries ($5)
Light, fluffy, and cooked dark, these are fries for the hardcore potato lover.
Clam Chowder ($7)
Harding ladles up an extraordinary version of my favorite soup featuring diminutive chunks of two types of potato, plenty of tender chopped clams and white pepper, a handful of dill and pork belly, and thankfully just a touch of flour to bind the briny, creamy broth. You won't find a better clam chowder anywhere.
Glazed Polish Bacon ($7)
It's not clear what this dish was doing on the menu and co-owner Aaron Lefkove (who was busy working the floor that night) didn't seem to know either, offering only that, "it comes from around here and it's delicious."
Those are good enough reasons for me, and he's right. The pork is fatty and salty with a sweet, umami-rich tomato reduction and a heavy sprinkling of a coriander-rich whole spice blend. It's reminiscent of pastrami in its charred spiciness, but with a distinct, porky finish.
As a New Englander, I'm content to eat my steamers—otherwise known as siphon or soft-shell clams—on a paper plate with nothing but a cup of briny juices for rinsing off the sand and a tub of drawn butter to drown them in. Indeed, I'd never even considered that they could be prepared any other way. That said, beer, garlic, chile, and parsley might actually improve what I always thought was a near-perfect food. (Don't worry, there's still brine and butter served on the side).