August's Can't-Miss Dish

Credit: Brian Samuels Photography
By Ellen Bhang · 07/31/2023

Looking for a no-fail, mouthwatering, gonna-tell-your-friends-about-it plate? Each month, Boston Globe columnist Ellen Bhang highlights the dish you need to try right now—and something to sip alongside it. 


August’s Can’t-Miss Dish


Driveway Clams at the Winsor House at Island Creek Oyster Farm


On the plate: Driveway Clams at the Winsor House

Where to find it: At the Winsor House in Duxbury, you can find your bliss in a variety of spaces. You could cozy up with your sweetie in a pub-like nook, watching aproned staff shuck oysters behind the bar. Or, gather with a group in the airy main room, tucking into tempura-battered branzino and surf-and-turf tartare while gazing at a mural of a ship riding the waves. If you arrive in the late afternoon, definitely ask to be seated outside. Summer is fleeting, and you deserve to feel a warm breeze as you sip something refreshing on the garden-adjacent patio.

The Winsor House, situated in a Federal-style home built in 1803, has changed hands several times over the years. Today, the South Shore destination—thoroughly renovated from top to bottom—is owned and operated by Island Creek Oysters, the Duxbury shellfish farm founded by Skip Bennett. The Raw Bar at Island Creek Oyster Farm, the company’s outdoor venue with a view of the harbor, is located just down the street. Start there, make quick work of a tray of crudo, then saunter over to the Winsor House for a main course that’s not to be missed.

Notes on the nosh: Driveway Clams features surf clams, a hard-shell variety grown on the farm by Bennett himself, harvested while the bivalves are still baby-sized and tender. Executive chef Ben Fisher steams them in a hearty broth with ancho chili-seasoned chorizo and shelled cranberry beans, then finishes the bowl with a generous dollop of garlicky aioli. Accompanying the dish are grilled triangles of ciabatta, poised to sop up every last bit of the sofrito-infused steaming liquid.

Christine Gibson, the Winsor House’s general manager, explains how Island Creek’s Duxbury retail store figures into the name of a dish. Years ago, at the end of the week, oyster farmers would gather outside the shop, chuck a cooler full of clams and a little lager into a stock pot, and set everything to simmer on a propane-fueled burner—right there in the driveway. “Even when they had visiting chefs, they would still take this idea of clams, beer, and other ingredients and just have fun with it,” Gibson says. “Eventually it has become this beautiful, complex, flavorful dish that is the epitome of what Island Creek is.” 

Sip alongside: With the Driveway Clams, Gibson recommends a chilled red from Les Lunes Wine, crafted by California Bay Area winegrowers Diego Roig and Shaunt Oungoulian. (You may know them for Populis, the duo’s outstanding line of minimal-intervention wines. The Les Lunes brand is made from vines they tend themselves.) Called “Astral Blend,” this by-the-glass pour features a kitchen sink’s worth of regeneratively farmed grapes—Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel among other varieties—to craft a lively, low-tannin red that loves to take a dip in an ice bucket. The wine’s cranberry and dark cherry flavors accentuate the red pepper notes in the dish, but you could certainly crush a glass on its own. It’s perfect to sip in the great outdoors—whether you’re seated on a garden patio, or hanging out in the driveway with friends.

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