Locals have been coming to Bob & Ron's for generations. Transplants, not so much.
I am continually amazed at how many people I encounter who are unfamiliar with the concept of fish fry. Not simply fried fish, but the very special local incarnation that starts with a hot dog bun and ends with chili sauce. Nestled in the middle is a very narrow foot-long piece of crispy deep-fried fish.
At Bob & Ron's the fish fry gets top billing. However it's their clams, that seem to be no more than an also-ran on Bob & Ron's iconic neon sign, which steal the show.
Clam strips get a bum rap. They are far too often stringy, chewy bits of rubber under a thin, crisp breading. It's their full-bellied cousins that get all the glory, and deservedly so. Full-bellied clams are magnificent.
But just as one can appreciate a dry-aged well-marbled steak and still enjoy a magnificent hamburger, there is a place in my heart for fantastic clam strips.
What sets the specimens at Bob & Ron's apart from the pack is the batter.
The batter here is thick, and it produces clam strips of substance. Biting into these brawny strips is a delight. The delicate clam meat is protected from the searing heat of the oil with a significant coating of batter, which keeps the muscle tender and preserves its subtle sweetness.
Regardless if you get them on a roll, as a half-order, or a full-order, get just enough to eat them while they're hot. It kills me to see how many people are getting their fried foods to go. Even if they could be packed in such a way as to prevent them from steaming, fried foods degrade as they cool.
As a bonus, you can feel good about eating clams. Traditionally, Bob & Ron's fish fry has been made from cusk, but given that this species has been almost over-fished to oblivion, I have also observed them making it from cod and haddock. Whereas a tasty cusk sandwich may find you enjoying the last 5 percent of a species, clams are so abundant and plentiful that regardless of their source or how they were caught, seafoodwatch.org gives the "thumbs up" to their consumption.
Delicious, sustainable and deep-fried aren't three words that typically go together. But Bob & Ron's isn't your typical restaurant. It is a local institution that has withstood the test of time. And although the sign has seen better days, they still have it where it counts.
Daniel B. is the proprietor of the Fussy Little Blog.
Earlier on AOA: A bunch of retro signs from around the Capital Region (including Bob & Ron's, of course)
Bob & Ron's Fish Fry
1007 Central Ave
Albany, NY 12206
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