From the lobster nets hanging over the bar to the picnic tables and open-topped lobster tank in the main dining room, Freddy’s Lobster + Clams brings a little bit of the beach vibe to downtown Bethesda. The menu is packed with the titular crustaceans -- in butter rolls, stew, mashed potatoes or just steamed fiery red -- but you might not expect it to also have one of Bethesda’s most interested happy hour combo deals.
The daily happy hour, which runs from 4 to 7, is $1 off the dozens of bottled and canned beers, which puts most in the $4-$5 range. You’ll pay more for fancier microbrews (Flying Fish’s Exit Four Tripel becomes $6) or fancier European imports ($7 for a half-liter bottle of Moorehouse’s Black Cat Dark Mild still feels like a steal).
But look beyond that to the Cans and Clams deal: $10 for any can of beer on the menu and a cardboard box of fried whole-belly clams. They arrive in a light, crunchy breading, piled so high that they’re spilling out of the grease-spotted box. Chewy, sweet and mixing meat and a bit of brine, they’re just what I was looking for. (As my bartender said, “Sometimes people expect to get clam strips, so I have to warn people that these have a different flavor.”)
Wash them down with some some great American brews, including the robust, hoppy G’Knight from Oskar Blues, Anderson Valley’s easy-drinking Summer Solstice seasonal, or the ridiculously rich and delicious Hop Crisis IPA from San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery. One box of clams can feed two people, so bring a friend to make the most of the deal.
-- Fritz Hahn (July 6, 2011)