Lil Rhody Clam Cake Crawl Declares 2018 Winner
Find out what it was like to eat clam cakes at eleven clam shacks all in one day.
I had the pleasure of visiting eleven clam shacks in one day thanks to the Lil Rhody Clam Cake Crawl. I’ve written about the event for a few years now from the perspective of the ambitious organizers, but this year, I got to join the clamarati for their fifth annual adventure. The journey began with a trio, including clam cake queen Renee Bessette, and friends Joe Mecca and Carol Caulfield Mecca, who first began their clam-critiquing expedition together back in 2014. They’ve picked up more fritter fans from year to year to join them on their epic Rhody road trip.
I will be writing a more in-depth feature about the Clam Cake Crawl experience for next year’s summer issue of the magazine, but for now, I want to share a little bit about the trial of eating at eleven clam shacks in one day. Hint: I ate clam cakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and for snacks in between meals. I was not deterred by lobster rolls, or fish and chips or french fries. It was clam cakes all day, for ten hours.
Some people might say clam cakes are all the same, so how can you judge the best? I can assure you that after sampling eleven versions across the state, all in one day, that they are all very different. Some are perfectly round scooped balls while others are blobs with little protrusions sticking out, which are lovingly called “nubbins” by the clamarati. Some have clam chunks, clam specks or clam slices, some have no clams at all, and some use fresh quahogs versus canned clams. Some restaurants add bacon or freshly cracked black pepper, and others use housemade recipes or boxed flour mix for the dough. Some are crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Some are greasy and soggy. Some are served piping hot. Some are lukewarm. Take a look at the photos below so you can see how different they look from one another, and they taste different too. I’ll tell you who won at the end.
How did we do it? We had a group of twelve or more that traveled from place to place in a caravan of cars. We’d stop at each clam shack and order a dozen cakes. Each person was in charge of “buying a round,” that way we got to sample each place on the cheap. A dozen clam cakes is a lot for one person to eat, but not when you spread it out over ten hours, And, I didn’t eat a whole clam cake at every single place. If it was a really good one, I’d eat the whole thing, but if it wasn’t absolutely clamtastic, I only took a bite or two. I battled the belly bloat with lots of water and a Del’s lemonade (and maybe a Del’s Shandy, too), provided by a fellow clam cake crawler.
We marked up score cards after sampling each location (judging crispness, tenderosity, flavor, nubbins, clam-to-cake ratio, clambiance and dining experience), and then the scores were added up amongst the group to determine the winner. We kept ourselves going for ten hours of travel by making each other laugh with clam puns all day. I guess you could say it was a day filled with clamaraderie.
Here are the places we visited on this Clam Cake Crawl. The group visits different clam shacks every year to spread the love.
1. Shore Dinner Hall
227 Post Rd., Westerly, 401-315-2701, theshoredinnerhall.com
2. Hitching Post
5402 Post Rd., Charlestown, 401-364-7495, hitchingpostrestaurant.weebly.com
3. Jim’s Dock
1175 Succotash Rd., Wakefield, 401-783-2050, facebook.com
4. Benny’s Clam Shack
58 High St., Wakefield, 401-363-9632, facebook.com
5. Aunt Carrie’s
1240 Ocean Rd., Narragansett, 401-783-7930, auntcarriesri.com
6. Iggy’s Doughboys and Chowder House
1151 Point Judith Rd., Narragansett, 401-783-5608, iggysdoughboys.com
7. Monahan’s Clam Shack
190 Ocean Rd., Narragansett, 401-782-2524, monahansri.com
8. Anthony’s Seafood
963 Aquidneck Ave., Middletown, 401-846-9620, anthonysseafood.net
9. Evelyn’s Drive-In
2335 Main Rd., Tiverton, 401-624-3100, evelynsdrivein.com
411 Thames St., Bristol, 401-253-4500, quitosrestaurant.com
11. Blount Clam Shack at Crescent Park
684 Bullocks Point Ave., Riverside, 401-628-0485, blountretail.com
…And for the Winner!
Watch Renee Bessette, Joe Mecca and Carol Caulfield Mecca (plus Sabina!) announce the winner!