Woodman’s of Essex is arguably the most famous seafood shack in the country. Claimed to have the “best seafood in America” this is the place where, back in 1916 the fried clam was born. It’s a no-frills, order-at-the-counter, eat-in-the-rough landmark that people wait in line for, all summer long. Needless to say, I don’t go to Woodman’s much, the food is good but I don’t wait in line to eat on picnic tables unless I’m on vacation.
Woodman’s is open all year and during the off-season us locals can walk right in for their famous clams, chowder or their daily specials. They have a rotating schedule of weekday specials this time of year that range from clam and lobster rolls to all you can eat fried fish. On a cold March day their sign for a fish sandwich special caught my eye on my way to work and so I decided to head over for lunch.
I was greeted by a half full dining area of mostly local people that I recognized. They must have had the same idea as I had. When ordering I asked what fish they were using for the sandwich and the counter person said it was cod. I ordered, then got myself a beverage and a seat at an old school booth.
It was not a huge sandwich, but had a nice white, flaky piece of fish, coated in their signature cornmeal, and fried to perfection. Just as good are the Woodman fries, just like the seafood they are fried in lard. Woodmans has been gluten and trans-fat free since their first fried clam…except for the onion rings.
I slathered some tartar sauce on the bun and went to town. It all looked and tasted so good that I ate it all in minutes “seagull style” meaning that I wolfed it all down without bothering to chew.
I definitely enjoyed my visit to Woodman’s and may make another off-season visit. I better hurry up, once we get some spring weather on Cape Ann the line will stretch down the block.