Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Eating My Neighborhood: Overton's Seafood Shack

A few months ago I posted what was suppose to be the first post of a new series entitled "Eating Our Neighborhood", where I would attempt to eat at and tell you about all the wonderful restaurants and food shops in my Cambridge, MA neighborhood. But, right after that post things got crazy and turned upside down in my life so I never got a chance to tell you all about the food in the Cambridge neighborhood.

Now, I find myself in a new neighborhood and at the beginning of a new phase of my life. Like my Cambridge neighborhood, my new neighborhood is a walking community with most everything I need within a three or four block walk. There is a full service butcher two blocks from my house, a "Packie" (liquor store) one block away and about four Italian eateries so close I can smell the sauce if the wind blows right. Unlike my Cambridge neighborhood, my new neighborhood of East Norwalk, CT is right on the ocean via the Long Island Sound. Which means one thing...fresh seafood.

On Sunday, after two grueling days of moving, I decided to take a break from unpacking and walk down to what appeared to be an old fashioned New England style seafood shack right on the harbor, Overton's. According to their menu board, they've been serving families yummy seafood for three generations and judging by the line of people on the perfectly sunny and warm Labor Day weekend, they must be doing something right!

Overton's specializes in fried seafood and they have all the usual suspects one expects to find at these types of seafood places: clams, both strips and whole belly, shrimp, scallops, and a nod to the Italian influence in the area, calamari. You can get all of these as containers or full meals, which include fries or onion rings and slaw. Besides the seafood, you can get fish and chips, burgers and hot dogs (seems to be quite a few hotdog take out places in this part of Connecticut...wonder why that is?) They even have what looks like a mean BLT and a grilled cheese if that is what you have a hankering for and any place that actually calls out Yoo-Hoo on the menu can't be that bad!!

After standing in line for about 5 minutes, I got up to the window to place an order for a container of whole belly clams, a side of onion rings and a bottle of water. I paid the super friendly girl taking my order, got my number and then stood on the other side of the building where the pick-up window is located. As I stood there, I was wondering if I had made a good decision to order just a container of clams as I was super hungry from all the unpacking but then I saw the whole belly clam dinner. It was HUGE!! There were so many clams on the plate, that they were rolling off the plate onto the tray. Somewhere under that pile was the largest mound of onion rings I had ever seen. All the sudden I was worried about the size of the container of clams being too much to handle.

About 10 minutes after I placed my order, an equally pleasant young lady leaned out the window and yelled "Number 166" and my order was ready. I grabbed a big handful of napkins, took my tray and went up to sit on the deck overlooking the East Norwalk Yacht Club.

The clams were hot and right out of the fryer. It was obvious they were hand breaded and were super fresh. They crunched on the outside but were firm on the inside and so sweet tasting that you could taste the sea; exactly what a good whole belly clam is suppose to be. The onion rings were really good too. Crunchy and not a lot of batter but enough so you know you are having an onion ring. I don't know if they are hand made but if they aren't they are some of the best non-homemade I've ever had. And as for the portion size, it was very big! I couldn't finish my onion rings and probably shouldn't have finished my clams but they were so good I couldn't fathom throwing even a little tiny morsel of them away.

The only thing I wasn't super fond of was the tray my food came on, a Styrofoam tray that you throw away, even as they have a recycling bin for soda cans and water bottles. Now, I know this is a small establishment and the land-rush business they do doesn't allow them to wash trays. But, I wish they would switch to a more environmentally friendly biodegradable tray made from recycled cardboard. I know they exist because a few of my favourite haunts along the Massachusetts and Maine coast use them. Who knows, now that I plan on being a "regular", maybe I can persuade them to switch.

After all, there are clam strips, scallops, and fish and those hot dogs to try before they close for the season!

80 Seaview Ave
East Norwalk, CT

Open: Mid March to November
Hours: Daily 10am - 5pm