Many have commented on this unique seafood restaurant on other sites and it gets uniformly high ratings for what it is -- top notch seafood and no frills ambiance. We visited the Clam Bar on the last night of the season, which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. We didn't go for the fine china and crystal -- it doesn't exist. We didn't go for the view -- there is none. We didn't go for the wine list -- the list consists of what you bring with you. What we went for was the best, freshest seafood, and that's what we found. We sat on stools around a U-shaped counter with about 20 others who were there for the same purpose.
I am not a lover of raw seafood and to that end I am not the one to describe the clams and oysters that Nel Lally ("the Clam Diva") prepares right in front of you, but my friends did have them and they loved them. So did the other folks who were feasting on them that night. I can say that the chowder and fish are exquisite. You won't find anything fresher or more tasty in the area.
So when you arrive, put your name on the white board inside the door, then wait patiently with the beverage that you brought along on the benches outside. It won't be long before your name is called. Gear up for your experience by watching the smiling faces of those satiated folks who have just completed their meals and are now rejoining the outside world. When invited in, be sure to silence your cell phone. Nel does not take kindly to those who believe they can focus on both her food and their social media connections. The brief hiatus from the outside world is well worth it. Also, bring cash (although you won't need a lot), since Nel does not take credit cards.
Would I go again? In a heartbeat. Would I enjoy it? Absolutely. Approach dinner at the Clam Bar with an adventurous spirit and appreciate Nel and her crew for what they do best, preparing and serving seafood that rivals the best you will find anywhere. You won't be able to experience what we did until after Memorial Day, but if you are anywhere near Long Beach Island in the summer, don't miss this.
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