Back at Gene’s Lobster Shack

Being part of a Catholic family when I was a girl meant we ate fish on Fridays. That’s not so bad when you live, as we did, near the ocean and the fishing port of New Bedford.

Some time in my childhood eating fish and chips at Gene’s Lobster Shack became part of this Friday ritual. The restaurant, on Route 6 in Fairhaven, Mass., was a humble place. The no-frills dining area was located in what used to be a garage. It even had a door that swung up. Diners ate on picnic tables.

Then, the Alphonse family owned the restaurant. My father says the owner used to drive taxi before he opened the place in 1955. My sister went to school with his daughter, who often worked there. So did her brother.

On Fridays we got to eat deep-fried, battered fish plus chips, with vinegar and salt. A generous plate cost 60 cents. I acquired a taste for stuffed quahogs, which are hard-shelled clams and a savory bread stuffing baked inside the shell. I recall each stuffed quahog —stuffies they are sometimes called — came with a pat of butter to melt over the crispy top. I usually ate two stuffed quahogs.

It’d been years since I ate at the restaurant, now called Gene’s Famous Seafood and under new ownership for years. I went with my parents last November just before Thanksgiving. The place has been spruced up. The garage door is gone. You still order your food at the counter and pick it up when its ready. Diners eat off picnic tables but they are covered with nautical maps sealed by a thick coat of polyurethane. 

I bought a seafood platter to share with my parents. Crispy batter. Seafood that was off-the-boat fresh. It was enough for three. 

I went again when we visited my folks in July. This time Hank came. We shared a platter of deep-fried scallops, shrimp, clams, and cod. It came with french fries and paper cups filled with tartar sauce, which I didn’t eat, and cole slaw. Next time I’ll get the fish and chips, and maybe after, the stuffed quahogs for old time’s sake. 


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