Review: Woodman’s of Essex

Woodman's of Essex ExteriorBefore I went to Woodman’s of Litchfield (New Hampshire) last year, I had no idea, until doing a little followup research for a blog post, that its parent restaurant Woodman’s of Essex (Massachusetts) was the birthplace of the fried clam.

But, back in 1916 this little roadside seafood shack started the craze that goes up and down New England’s shores with a frenzy. Today, the restaurant is run by the third and fourth generations of the Woodman family. The lines are still long, the clams are still hot, juicy and oh-so-good.

So, let’s take a closer look at this Massachusetts mainstay…

Woodman's exterior upper areaHead upstairs to enjoy Woodman’s raw bar and extra seating.

Did you know? Woodman’s of Essex was featured in the 2010 Adam Sandler, Kevin James, et al movie “Grown Ups.” There’s a wall in the restaurant that features photos and highlights from the movie’s production.

Menu at Woodman's of EssexA menu is strategically placed outside since you’ll (most likely) have part of your wait outdoors. Take the time to figure out if you’re going to go for one of Woodman’s famous fried clam plates, a lobster roll, hot boiled lobster, clam chowder or even burgers and chicken sandwiches.

For those with Celiac disease or other gluten sensitivity, the menu indicates (not shown in the photo above) items are gluten-free unless noted otherwise. More places need to take this direction with their menus as roughly 6 percent of the U.S. population is gluten sensitive, according to the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research.

Ordering at Woodman's of EssexI’ll take one of everything please! After waiting in a line outside the building, you finally make it inside the doors to order.

Serving up onion rings at Woodman's of EssexBehind the scenes it’s a well-oiled machine. Here someone is busy just dishing up onion rings for orders.

Finding a seat in the old dining roomThe building has a certain old charm to it with large wooden beams. Inside, the wooden benches are small and awkward. But you could head outside to enjoy your meal by some picnic tables.

Waiting for your order at Woodman's of Essex Everyone hovers right around the pickup counter because the restaurant is a bit noisy so it can be difficult to hear your number called out. The wait can be agonizing but be patient! It’s well worth it!!

Wait, when did I get back to Milwaukee? Food served in Miller boxesWait! When did we get to Milwaukee? The old Miller boxes that meals are served in made me feel like I was back in the Brew City. Hey, anyone got some fried cheese curds?

The famous lobster roll and french fries at Woodman's of EssexThe heaping serving of lobster mixed with mayo (not too much mayo, just enough) on top of a hot-buttered hot dog roll and served with a side of crispy fries.

Fried clam platter with onion rings and fries at Woodman's of EssexIs there anything left in the ocean? The fried whole belly clam plate (served here with a side of onion rings) is massive. Between this and the lobster roll, Brett and I had more than enough to share!

Lobsters taking a swimLook – it’s a lobster spa! The little crustaceans enjoy a purification bath before they head to their demise.

Look who's gonna be lunch in a few minutes?If you’re just looking for lobster (or as we say up in Massachusetts – “lobstah”), you can have your pick.

Wow, after writing this I really want some fried clams now.

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