Remembering The Clam Shop in Detroit.
Looking back to the future … A wonderful little restaurant gem was Dave Goldfine’s Clam Shop in Detroit’s then aging factory and warehouse district.
The building was an ancient structure, originally put up by a well-known brewery way back, even before Prohibition … In those days, the bartenders and breweries all but dragged the customers off the street to drink beer for a nickel and partake of a free lunch.
The interior was plain and clean, and the floor dipped gracefully here and there … The kitchen was very likely not as big as the one in your home or apartment, but the seafood that came out of it was terrific and thought by many to be the best in Detroit … and others said it was the best in the Midwest.
Neither Dave, who originally bought the place, or his partner, Frank Van Brusselin, who joined him 10 years later, had any restaurant experience.
As the name implies, the Clam Shop was devoted to those who believed all that is good came from the sea … The menu featured a high concentration of things like clams, oysters, lobster, king crab legs and fish galore.
Many who dined on lobster in some of the nation’s top seafood restaurants said that the one they had at the Clam Shop was equal or better than the Lobster House or King of the Sea in New York and heads up above any lobster they had ever eaten.
On one particular evening we happened to run into a friend who had eaten lobster at many restaurants in the country and said that the Clam Shop’s was equal or better than any he had anywhere … even tastier than in Chicago, also noted as having the best ones along with those at the Lobster House and King of the Sea.
Lobster was king at the Clam Shop and the piece de resistance was the broiled lobster … This was a 1¼-pound beauty stuffed with what many said was the absolute most delightful they had ever tasted.
Oysters and clams were other highly acclaimed specialties at the Clam Shop … Like the lobster, they were flown in every other day, and either Dave or Frank would whip out their weekly price list to show you that they bought nothing but quality, regardless of price.
Dave and Frank were equally proud of their red snapper, fresh pompano, Finnan haddie, shad roe or king crab.
As a concession to the occasion eccentric folks who came in for steak, the Clam Shop had excellent News York strips and steaks of the highest quality … but make no mistake, it was basically a seafood house.