The Clam Bake in Fort Myers, Florida advertises that they have “Authentic New England Food”, which is what brought my dinning partner and myself to this restaurant. Both of us being from Northeast area of the country know and love the cuisine from the New England area. We both were looking forward to our dining experience.
We arrived around 6:30pm, and noticed the eatery was doing a brisk business, which for this area out of season is a good sign, especially on “hump day”. Eatery’s that do not live up to the quality they advertise are usually empty or nearly empty. So again we were encouraged by this little sign. We were greeted by a very friendly and welcoming staff, making us feel welcomed and at home. A good sign again to us, as we felt appreciated for choosing this establishment. Our waitress was quick to take our drink order and give us the specials for the night. We both ordered an un-sweet tea, which was delivered quickly, no wait time at all. This is my initial test of a restaurant, if they have good un-sweet tea, meaning brewing from the tea bag and not mixed from a powder, I know the establishment takes more time for the little things, realizing that all aspects are important and not just the meals they serve. After the initial taste, my dining partner any myself realized that we were given sweet tea. Once we brought this slight mistake to the attention of our waitress, she immediately corrected the error and I will say the un-sweet tea is divine! I do want to add that I like it when a small error is made in the beginning, as they you get to observe how they handle small missteps so if something major goes wrong you get a feel for how it will be handled. Of course you hope you don’t have to find out the later aspect while out dining. Both I and my dining partner were very impressed with our waitress. She was attentive start to finish and never made either of us feel like we were an imposition with any question we fielded her way. I would like to add that the atmosphere of The Clam Bake truly has a New England feel to it. Nicely decorated, great restaurant layout with an open kitchen, very appealing bar section and the tables were not on top of each other, giving each table enough room to feel comfortable.
The Clam Bake does have a great menu that features all the favorites you would expect at an eatery of this nature. Every dish has a New England flare, and for the individuals that are not big on seafood, The Clam Bake does offer very enticing “land lover” selections. I encourage you to go to their web site, address listed above, and check out their selections, I am sure that will be enough to have you travel to this eatery! They offer daily drink specials with their Happy Hour, offering the diner very reasonably priced drinks, from beer to wine to mixed drinks. And the drink prices out of the Happy Hour time are just as reasonably priced, nothing looked to be excessive in the price. We did notice a lot of the patrons were having wine with their meals, which is something that we don’t always notice on our outings. The meal prices are moderately priced, from $14 to $30 for your typical New England fare, again pleasing to the pocket! The Claim Bake does feature the Clam Bake which is what we called a traditional Boston Boil with all the fixings (Lobster, Muscles, Atlantic Cod, Sausage, Corn On The Cob and Vegetables) and a cup of New England Clam Chowder for $42.95 and add Shrimp for $49.95. While we did not order this tonight, we both commented as we were leaving that we will come back and try that.
We placed our order. I had one of the specials of the night, The Lazy Man Lobster – Lobster out of the shell cooked and then broiled, ($21.99) and my dining partner ordered the Broiled Seafood Combo – Shrimp, Scallops and Haddock stuffed with Crab Meat, ($15.99). My diner came with the addition of one side and I ordered the garlic fried potatoes. My dinning partner’s meal came with the addition of two sides and they ordered the garlic fried potatoes and a cup of New England Clam Chowder. I added a cup of New England Clam Chowder to my order and my dinning partner added Corn on the Cob to their order. Our New England Clam Chowder was on the table within 5 minutes. It was hot, very tasty – if it is not homemade I would be shocked and what impressed us even more was the oyster crackers that they served with it! I brought the package home as I wanted to get it right for this review! They are the New England Original, Westminster Bakers Company Oyster Crackers. Great touch to a deliciously prepared chowder! This was a nice touch that added to the authentic atmosphere of The Clam Bake. We finished with our New England Clam Chowder, the cups were removed and within a small wait time, about 10 minutes if that, our entrees arrived the table. Both were pleasing to the eyes and nose, which truly is the best way to start your meal. Satisfy your eyes and nose and you will most assuredly please your pallet. I began eating my meal and I initially noticed a flavor that to me was not pleasing. The Lobster was fresh, tender and cooked to perfection; however there was a flavor that to me did not belong. I had my dinning partner taste my dish and they too noticed the flavor as well, but was not displeasing to them. While they noticed it, they felt that is was a favorable compliment to the Lobster. I did ask our waitress how it was prepared and was told that in addition to the butter a “splash of Chablis” was added prior to the dish being broiled. As soon as I was told that, I knew that is exactly what I was tasting. So I will put this in the category of difference of pallet likes and dislikes. Just because it was not pleasing to me in no way should have a negative reflection upon the food of The Clam Bake. The Garlic Fried Potatoes again were something of preference. I was hoping for a more robust garlic flavor, while my dinning partner thought they were divine. Again, a matter of personal preference. They were good, I was just hoping for more garlic flavor. Now on to my dinning partner’s entrée. While the meal did not “wow” them, they did like and appreciate the dish. Everything was cooked nicely, tender and juicy and everything was fresh. It just lacked the wow factor for them. We did order dessert, I getting the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and my dinning partner got the Reese’s Peanut Butter Pie. I did ask if the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie was made in house or store bought. Store bought but baked at the restaurant. Our desserts arrived in a timely manner and both my dinning partner and I were looking forward to eating the meal ending stars. I told my dinning partner that my Strawberry Rhubarb Pie reminded me of Thanksgiving as it reminded me of the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie my grandmother would serve. Not homemade either, but the flavor was delightful as it is the perfect balance of strawberry to rhubarb and it gave me a wonderful fond memory, and when food does that, it is good in more ways than one. My dinning partner thoroughly enjoyed there Reese’s Peanut Butter Pie, saying it was rich and creamy and not overly sweet as this dessert sometimes is served. All in all, our meal start to finish was good, enjoyed by both of us and will definitely have us return for another meal.
The service was excellent, our waitress truly enhanced our dining experience, as did the atmosphere. We would give the food a 3.5 star rating out of 5 stars. Does it live up to the billing: The Clam Bake, Authentic New England Seafood, we believed it did. If you are looking for Authentic New England Seafood, be sure and give The Clam Bake a try, we both feel you will be returning to try more of what they have to offer! The Clam Bake is a hidden gem in the Island Park Plaza, a must try for the seafood lover! We’re going back to try the Clam Bake and are sure we will enjoy it start to finish!