Freddy's Lobster + Clams
4867 Cordell Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20814
Neighborhood: Bethesda/Glen Echo
Cuisines: Seafood, American
Open Monday through Thursday 11:30 to 10, Friday through Saturday 11:30 to midnight, Sunday 11:30 to 9.
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Nearby Metro Stops: Medical Center, Bethesda
Price Range: Inexpensive
Reservations: Not Needed
Cold lobster roll; lobster bisque; fried clams; creamy clam chowder.
Starters $6 to $12, mains $12 to $18.
Special Features: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly, Party Space, Outdoor Seating
Happy Hour Details:
Monday through Friday 4 PM to 7 PM, Friday through Saturday 10 PM to midnight. Draft and bottle-of-the-day for $3.50, basic domestic beers for $2.50, wine-of-the-day $5, and bucket of five beers and one appetizer for $20.
Happy Hour Days: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays
Lobster used to be relegated to the $30-plus-entrée category, but the poor man’s version—the lobster roll—now can be found all over town. The best examples claim allegiance to Connecticut (warm, butter-bound) or Maine (cold, mayo-tossed); use hunks of knuckle, tail, and claw meat; and feature New England–made top-split buns.
The cool, lemony sandwich at Freddy’s Lobster & Clams is certainly in the top tier (the buttery one isn’t as good). But the rolls are just one part of the seaside-shack menu from chef/owner Jeff Heineman, who’s also behind the wine bar Grapeseed next door. The food gleans favorites from the culinary traditions of several Northeastern states. Rhode Island–style dishes include a broth-based clam chowder—there’s also a good creamy chowder—and fried calamari with hot pickled cherry peppers. Maine gets a nod with whoopie pies and a bisque-like lobster stew served with a blueberry muffin. The second half of the restaurant’s name relies on the fryer, which produces crisp whole-belly clams and clam strips; order them with the matchstick-thin fries.
Although the decor feels generic—fishing nets, old buoys, weathered signs—the place is a near dead ringer for a dirt-cheap New England seafood joint: There’s a 450-gallon tank of live lobsters, and food is served in red-and-white-checked paper carriers.
Pinned to the wall are colorful T-shirts for sale—a common sight in scruffy Rhode Island restaurants with devoted followings. Judging by Heineman’s initial efforts, it won’t be long before Freddy’s has its own set of loyal fans.
This article appears in the August 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.