Thanks to an invitation from the friendly folks at the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, I was lucky enough to enjoy a visit to The Clam Shack last week, on a picture-perfect late-summer day, complete with a behind-the-scenes tour and (what else?) lobster roll lunch.
Located on the bridge over the Kennebunk River that connects Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, the Clam Shack’s address is almost always listed as Kennebunkport, but if you take a close look at a map, you’ll see their location in Lower Village on the west side of the bridge technically puts them in Kennebunk.
Regardless of the town (we’re fans of both), the service and offerings at the Clam Shack and its next-door Seafood Market are terrific. The winner of numerous accolades and awards (including more than a few from Yankee), the Clam Shack is also a popular regular at Tasting Table’s Lobster Roll Rumble, a NYC-based competition featuring 25 of the nation’s best lobster rolls. In fact, they’ve won three of the last four.
The story goes that the Shack first opened in 1968, rented on a handshake, but current owner Steve Kingston has been manning both the shack and the market since 2000, and it’s immediately clear that he loves his job.
After a few deep breaths of coastal Maine air, we skipped the line at the shack and headed straight into the market. Open since 1938, it’s one of the oldest continuously operated seafood markets in Maine.
Inside is all warm wood, fresh seafood, and an assortment of Clam Shack and lobster-branded souvenirs. The colorful stools pictured below were recently painted to match the buoys of some of the local fishermen. How cool is that?
Walk up to the counter, look down, and you’re immediately face to shell with a tank of Maine lobsters.
And, if you’re lucky, you’ll look up to meet owner Steve Kingston himself. We were fortunate enough to get a personal welcome from Steve, and a brief overview of how the Shack makes its lobster roll magic.
All of their lobsters are brought in from nearby Cape Porpoise Harbor, steamed in local seawater, hand-picked, and kept chilled on ice until it’s time to roll.