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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
BETTY'S A1A CAFE
I can't even count how many times we had passed by this restaurant always meaning to stop in but never having the time. Well one Saturday afternoon around 2, we finally sampled this place and it was a home run.
The sign always bragged about "whole belly clams" and that always caused me to salivate as we passed by. To the uninitiated, whole belly clams are fresh New England steamer, or as they are known locally "pisser" clams that are deep fried whole. Normally when you order fried clams, you get the familiar strips and the clams probably hitchhiked here from some Asian country where they are dirt cheap to produce. The whole belly clams at Betty's A1A Cafe come fresh from New England.
As we were seated I warned the server that we had lived in Boston in the past and know our fresh clams well! His response? He said these would be as good as if not better we had ever had in New England, even the famous town of Ipswich! I had to doubt him but you know what? He was right!
The meals came with two sides, as just about every seafood platter does in this part of Florida. You can choose from the usual suspects like fries, cole slaw, a house or Caesar salad, fresh veggies, etc. My wife ordered broiled scallops with the fresh veggie of the day, which was broccoli. I, of course, ordered the fried whole belly clams. For my sides I got a Caesar salad and opted to spend an extra buck to get a cup of clam chowder.
My wife's scallops were excellent. Broiled in a little lemon, garlic butter sauce and just a few breadcrumbs on top. The broccoli was fresh and coated with just the right amount of butter. My Caesar salad looked pretty lame when it arrived. In fact, I thought they had forgotten to put the dressing or croutons on it. But the dressing was just right and the croutons were hiding at the bottom. The clam chowder was passable but not outstanding. The star of the show, however -- those fresh whole belly clams from New England and they were absolutely outstanding. Fried to golden brown perfection, tasty, juicy and no sand! My wife's scallops were about $10 (she got a half order) and my delectable clams set us back $15. Well worth it.
The restaurant offers a great view of the Atlantic Ocean just across the street and on a sunny day like we had, you'll enjoy the gulls and pelicans diving for their lunch. They make quite a splash. And on a good day, you'll even see some dolphins patrolling up and down.
I don't think the restaurant has a web site but you'll find Betty's A1A Cafe at 1900 Ocean Shore Blvd. (A1A) in Ormond-By-The-Sea, which is located just north of Ormond Beach which is just north of Daytona Beach. Their phone number is (386) 441-8131. Even if you have to drive a little out of your way, this one is worth the extra effort!