On the occasion of any trip to Connecticut the restaurant options are, to put it gently, sorely lacking. But being that Mr. Juice hales from the Nutmeg State, we sometimes find ourselves scouring the Happy Days suburban landscape for some nosh-tastic foodstuffs. A few weeks ago, the Team Juice found itself en route to the Mohegan Sun Casino/Resort/Retirement Community, and found a place that’s way better than the blackjack table.
As an aside: I find it interesting there are more people wearing Depends Adult Undergarments on the casino floor than there are retirees in Palm Springs. It’s unreal. Fanny packs, sweat pants, canes, walkers, little wires that attach their pants to their credit cards—presumably to ensure the old folks don’t forget them or collapse and die while leaving the card in the machine, which by the way if you need one of those you might want to consult a 12-step program—and t-shirts that would be ironic if they weren’t worn by people who are at a point in their lives when clothing has become purely utilitarian. But they sure can stuff those pennies down the slots. I digress…
After a couple hours’ losing down at the high roller (read: $5) blackjack tables, we were famished. Enter Jasper White’s Summer Shack. Now, I was at the Summer Shack in Boston about ten years ago and remembered loving it. It’s a casual place, picnic instead of individual dining tables. Big chalk board showing the day’s fresh catch. Juice and I took a spot at the bar before some paper place mats craving fried clams and who knew what else.
What else? Corn fritters with clam and Alaskan king crab legs. Yep, that’s it. If we’d had more time I promise you the entire menu would have bee down
But oh how awesome! The whole belly fried clams were incredibly fresh—this will be a theme at the Summer Shack. Everything is brought in that day. Absolutely delicious. Fried lightly so the flavor of the clam comes through, sweet and meaty and with a spritz of lemon perfect. Or almost. Because the tartar sauce is unreal. I don’t know how they do it. I looked online to see if they gave a clue as to why it was so good, but nope. I guess it’s a Jasper White secret. Whatever it was, we ate all of it.
Next, the corn clam fritters. They were a little heavy, according to Juice, but I liked them. Almost like hush puppies, but with awesome inside. If there is such a thing as the best savory hush puppy of all time—complete, again, with that tartar sauce—this is it. The clam balances the sweetness of the corn and breading. They’re cooked to perfection, soft and moist with a nice sweet shell to bite through. Forget the butter and eat the tartar sauce. Honestly. Just thinking about it I’m salivating.
Finally, and insanely decadently, the Alaskan king crab legs. Now, the thing about crab as a opposed to lobster is that with all the rich flavor there’s a lightness to the meat. When you eat a pile of fresh legs—like we did—the balance in the flavor doesn’t make you feel like you’re going to have a coronary, as is sometimes the case with lobster. The king crab legs at the Summer Shack are great. Sweet and rich and exceptionally fresh, especially considering they’re, you know, from Alaska. The staff is nice enough to crack the shells for you, so the bib they provide is mostly decorative, unless of course you’re one of those retirees whose motor skills have been reduced to pulling the lever on slot machines and you found this website on “the google.” Juice liked them so much she was digging her little paws into the nether regions of every shell like a starved primate. She left teeth marks on my pinky when my hand got too close. Yes, they’re that good. So good you don’t need butter or tartar sauce or anything except maybe some Hannibal Lecter restraints for your significant other—if you’re sharing. But take my advice: don’t share. Get your own. Love them.
The only downer to all this gastric lovin’, and I’ll admit it’s a quibble given our current address: the price. A little ‘spensive for what you get. Don’t get me wrong, we were full and we were happy, but they’re charging New York prices. Hopefully we’ll find our way up the New England coast again this summer and offer up some options that aren’t so hard on the wallet.
8 out of 10