Every Monday night, I like to take my kids to “kids night” at Finn Mc Cools in Westhampton Beach. On “kids night”, they set up a large movie screen in the dining room playing cartoons and animated films and offer the wee-ones all you can chicken fingers, french fries, mozzarella sticks and mac & cheese bites for a mere $5 bucks. While the kids are thoroughly preoccupied with Nemo or Sponge Bob, I get to relax a little and enjoy a cocktail or two.
Finn Mc Cools can best be described as a pub pretending to be a gastropub. A gastropub usually offers a higher quality of food along with the typical pub grub. In addition to the pub grub faves like burgers, shepherds pie and corned beef, Finn Mc Cools also offers seared tuna, steamed mussels and clams on the half shell.
Feeling a little reckless, I ordered a dozen clams on the half shell. Big Mistake.
I am no “expert” on all foods however, I do know a thing or two about the consumption of seafood. It is a disturbing fact (and for those of you have that have weak dispositions, please turn away), but most shell-fish, (clams, oysters, lobster and crab) needs to be “alive” when you prepare it. In order to keep the shell-fish alive, you need to keep them very cold, preferably on ice. If the shellfish is dead, you should not eat it especially if it is raw.
Our lovely and perky waitress served me the clams along with the accoutrements of tabasco, horse radish, lemon and cocktail sauce. Salivating over my plate of mollusks, I slurped up my first clam. Immediately, I knew there was something “rotten in Denmark”. My plate of raw clams were warm.
As gracefully as I could I spit the warm raw slimy glob out in the nearest napkin. I debated about complaining to the waitress as my kids were clearly testing the other patrons nerves with their increasingly loud debates over who is smarter – Sponge Bob or Scooby Doo, however feeling a little empowered from my cocktail, I beckoned the waitress over.
“Listen, I hate to complain”, motioning to my off spring, “however these clams are warm, and I am just a little scared because they are raw and……” I let my voice trail off. She assured me that all of their seafood is the freshest quality but when she looked at my doubtful expression, she assuaged me by taking the offending bivalves back to the kitchen asking if she could replace them with something else.
I did not want to waste the clams so I asked if she would mind having the chef cook them for me. She came back a few minutes later with a big bowl full of steaming clams in a white wine and garlic sauce. I happily accepted and dug in. Unfortunately, I nearly chipped a tooth from chomping on the grit that was embedded in the first clam. The next two were even more sandy than the first one. Before I could say another thing, my lovely waitress plopped down another cocktail in front of me, winking at me and said “its on the house”.
Now that I was in debt to the waitress for my comped cocktail, I felt obligated to suffer through the rest. I bravely slurped those sandy critters down, trying not to chew, lest loosening my very expensive tooth colored filling. There were 1/2 dozen clams that did not open and free cocktail or not, I was not going to risk spending the rest of the night “worshipping the porcelain bowl” just to save face.
When she came by to clear the plates after handing me the bill she asked “Did those clams not open up?” Without waiting for an answer, as they obviously did not open up, she grabbed the check, crossed out the clams and comped me for the dish.
Finn Mc Cools is a great place to bring the kids and have very good pub grub, just don’t order the clams.
Chow for now!