There are two things that nearly everyone tastes while visiting Kennebunkport Maine – lobster and clam chowder (my apologies to the folks with shellfish allergies). And while most people agree on what makes a good lobster, there is much dissension when it comes to chowdah. Some like it thick, others prefer thin. Some want lots of potatoes, while
others would rather pass. There are the bacon fans and those who think it belongs on a burger. Even within my own family, we can’t agree. So instead of declaring who’s got the best around, here’s the scoop (or spoonful) on the recent favorites of guests at our Kennebunkport Bed and Breakfast:
- Gran’s Chowder House: This teeny take-out spot is a great spot for lunch, offering quiches, paninis, wraps and ‘wiches, alongside her famous pies and chowder. Though I haven’t tried the corn variety, the New England Clam Chowder is excellent (and earns bonus points for being gluten free). This year Gran’s was voted the best chowder in Kennebunkport, but as it is not thickened with flour, it is on the thin side. As for the potato/clam ratio, there are approximately equal parts, and both are cooked perfectly. The potatoes aren’t mushy and the clams aren’t too chewy (leaving no mouth full of rubber feeling). For me, it’s pretty darn close to perfection, but to each their own!
- Out in Cape Porpoise, Pier 77‘s signature clam chowder has a distinctly potatoey flavor (I assume they puree some to aid in thickness), but despite being thickened with flour, does not cling tightly to your spoon as some do (keep looking if gloppy is your thing). But even if potatoes aren’t your fave, the views of Cape Porpoise Harbor and Goat Island Light are sure to bring you around.
- Thick chowder lovers, don’t despair! Despite the trend of restaurants, including many of those in Kennebunkport Maine, churning out gluten free options, staples like Mabel’s Lobster Claw and Alisson’s Restaurant have kept with tradition. Their thick, ivory versions both offer slightly more potatoes to clams, but the recipe sticks to your spoon, requiring that extra lick to savor the last morsel!
- Federal Jack’s Brew Pub also offers a gluten free clam chowder, which definitely feels and tastes different from their old recipe. Returning patrons might be surprised by the color and consistency, as both have changed. Instead of the previous snowy-white version, their new concoction trends toward the tan, while the famously viscous blend has thinned, but certainly not to a soup. Though Fed’s chowder is saltier than some, it definitely goes heavier on the clams (though small), with slightly more clams than ‘taters.
- Sadly, the chowder at Cape Pier Chowder House isn’t gluten free, but it reportedly features the highest proportion of clams to potatoes around. Just barely off-white, their blend is thick (but not borderline pudding-like) but doesn’t overwhelm you with flour flavor.
Fortunately for my family (and, of course, visitors to Kennebunkport Maine), there are oodles of options when it comes chowdah. So next time it’s your turn to decide – so slurp, slip, or spoon to your heart’s content!