The words “World’s Greatest” is often a lofty distinction that comes up short. Nevertheless, it usually gets me to investigate at the very least. An ad in a local Cape Cod magazine said Food & Wine Magazine had declared Arnold’s the makers of the best fried clams in the world. To quote Friday After Next, “The world, Craig. The world.”
To say the least, this is a lofty claim. Granted it comes from a high source, but I was naturally skeptical. Here I am in Cape Cod, the New England getaway region, a place rife with deep fried seafood… could I possibly have found the best fried clams, my favorite of the deep fried sea creatures? With a half-pint, small order of clam strips ($10.99) sitting in front of me, I was about to find out.
The batter on the strips was perfect. It did not taste of too much flour or cornmeal. There was a near perfect balance between clam and crust. Unlike many other strips, this was not a shell of break covering the essence of clam, this was a proper clam strip, done right. But was it the best in the world? I’m not really sure. It was fresh, the clam wasn’t rubbery, and it is most definitely the least greasy bit of fried food I’ve ever eaten, but was it the best in the world? Maybe. It didn’t taste like anything transcendent, but I really cannot think of a time I’ve had a better fried clam.
The onion rings were equally mind boggling. I wish they were thicker, but they were near perfect, with almost no oily residue. This might be the lightest fried food ever. A large order ($5.29) completely overflows the container. Do not order with only one person.
The 50’s Burger ($4.99) is grilled, rather than fried, so there is no outer char and crunch that many aficionados enjoy. They did not ask how the burger should be cooked, but it came out a nice medium (just a bit of pink inside). It was exceptionally tasty, especially with well-cooked bacon and cheese adding to the flavor. It comes on a nice white bun instead of a potato roll.
The Maine Lobster Bisque (cup $4.99) is creamy and has plenty of lobster meat inside, but it a little on the oily side with little spots flecked throughout the soup.
The Texas Chili (cup $3.99) is completely forgettable. There is no real heat and only a limp tomato taste. Even the bacon cannot help this bland stew.
Arnold’s isn’t really near anything. It’s just a restaurant on the side of a highway. I would not recommend it for dinner, but for lunch, it’s excellent. They have a bar, a covered outdoor seating area, and what appeared to be a laid-back clientele. If you want a lazy afternoon, noshing on New England staples and sipping drinks, I would definitely recommend Arnold’s.
3580 State Highway
Eastham, MA 02642