Tuesday, July 2, 2013

JT Farnhams, Essex MA

I kicked off my personal clam fest with a stop at JT Farnham's.  Opened in 1956, it began as a simple seaside shack with a view of the marsh and outdoor plumbing. Over the years and after a few changes at the helm, JT Farnhams expanded their indoor facilities, but even in doing so they have maintained the feel of their establishment as casual with utmost importance on the ocean.  Every seat in the house has a view of the marsh, and can watch the tides ebb and flow.  Even better?  Farnham's is located so close to the water that they actually encourage arrival by boat, especially as their parking lot can be a bit small as patrons arrive.  

Of course, I was there for the food, and I was excited to jump into their menu. Now, of course,  they serve the fried clams I was there to try, but their menu goes far beyond just the fried bivalves.  Fried scallops, shrimp and oysters populate the menu, along side their grilled seafood counterparts and then a few salads and non seafood items for those so inclined.  Beyond their clams however, Farnhams is also well known for their seafood chowder.  

Created by a happy mistake one evening of a cook mixing together the
remnants of the days fish chowder and the clam chowder, what has been born since is a wonderful mixture of clam, shrimp, lobster meat, haddock and scallops all in a cream base chowder.  I able to try a cup of it and wow, I understood the acclaim immediately.  Made without thickeners, the chowder had wonderful smooth consistency, and taste purely of cream, a touch of salt, pepper and had the sweetness of grated onion.  This simple backdrop allowed the seafood to shine here, and even just viewing the cup I could see that that was the right decision.  Whole, plump shrimp were found immediately and then in digging in my spoon found whole scallops, large pieces of lobster meat, wonderful flakes of haddock and those whole clams.  This is what I'm looking for in a seafood chowder.  It was bold in its use of full sized pieces and fantastic for playing down the flavor of the broth and letting the natural, fresh seafood shine.  This was a great chowder.

It was then time to turn my attention to the main attraction- the clams.  Farnham's works closely with their local suppliers to concentrate on getting smaller bellied clams which give a lighter flavor and a thinner mouth feel.  They do usually have some bigger bellied clams around though- for those who prefer them -just ask!  Farnhams coats their clams in just corn flour, and then deep fries them giving them a wonderfully crisp and chewy texture.  They had a great flavor- a good mix of the sweet clam and the lovely corn flour.  I found these to be a great clam for all.  There are definitely a portion of the public that aren't in love with big bellied clams and find their flavor too strong.  Farnham's concentrate on a subtler, clean flavor.

JT Farnham's is a great spot to get your clam fix.  Its low key decor, concentration on the water, and commitment to quality creates exactly the right type of place to roll into after a great day in the water. 




Delicious Dishings said...

That chowder look so good!

In and Around Town said...

I have never actually been here but hear that it is where the locals go - I will definitely have to try it out instead of Woodman's one of these days :)

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