There are few pleasures more reliable than fried seafood. Like pizza, even the low-quality stuff is satisfying, while the truly great versions can be transcendent.
In Georgia, we are lucky to see lots of fried shrimp and oysters sourced from nearby. It’s rarer that we see cold-climate clams on menus around town, especially really good ones. But, they can be found — specifically, at Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar in east Cobb.
The Ipswich clam roll at Drift is a delicacy, and it’s priced like one. At $17, it’s an expensive sandwich. In this case, you get what you pay for: an expertly made clam roll that uses true-blue Ipswich clams — and the clams are the most important part of the equation.
Ipswich clams are soft-shelled clams that live in either sandy or muddy tidal flats in New England, not necessarily in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Though the same species lives up and down the Northeastern coast, the ones from Ipswich are prized for growing in the area’s wide mud flats that appear at low tide. Clams living in muddy habitats are thought to be more flavorful and less likely to be gritty than the ones that live in sand.
The clams at Drift perfectly match the Ipswich profile — large, tender, juicy and flavorful. Compared with many of the fried oysters around town that tend to be more popular, the Ipswich clams have much stronger “le goût de la mer” — or taste of the sea. That briny, vegetal flavor marries perfectly with the crunchy, salty, fried exterior of the clams. A touch of tartar sauce and a nicely grilled, slightly sweet brioche bun complete a clam roll that is worth a splurge.
Yes, we’re lucky in Georgia to have fried shrimp and oysters galore. But, Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar reminds us that there are plenty more fish in the sea — or clams in the mud.
Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar. 4475 Roswell Road, Marietta. 770-635-7641, driftoysterbar.com.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.