I have new respect for Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster in South Freeport.  The change in heart is that  we enjoyed some terrific fried clams and a very good and well-priced ($15.95 including fries) lobster roll at our lunch over Labor Day.  I stopped going there for the usual meal of fried clams or steamed lobster because the clams just weren’t up to snuff.  This otherwise popular lobster pound served only strips rather than full belly whole clams.

The menu at the ordering window and on their online menu lists jumbo clam strips.  What are those exactly?  In the past, they’ve never offered whole clams in their fried clam offering.

Pretty working waterfront setting; the covered dining porch

We arrived at noontime on Labor Day.  The parking lot—usually jammed—was only half full and just a few people on line at the ordering window.  It was a beautiful day: perfect mid 70s temperature presiding over the pristine South Freeport harbor.  It’s a real working waterfront filled with lobster boats and a few anchored pleasure boats as large as yachts.

I wanted a lobster roll and I urged my friend to have the fried clams so I could taste them, too.  Since the menu listed “strips only” for the clams I asked anyway if they had whole belly clams.

Classic no-frills lobster roll with fires; batter dipped onion rings

In fact, they no longer offer strips, since their supplier changed, but rather big fat whole clams instead.  We ordered a pint of batter dipped clams (I would have preferred the crumb coating), a side of onion rings also coated in batter and the lobster roll with fries.

Normally Harraseeket’s kitchen is very slow.  But since it wasn’t yet crowded our order was ready in about 10 minutes.  We sat at the dining bar overlooking the water, a perfect spot to enjoy the view, the balmy temperatures and what turned out to be a great lunch.

The clams were some of the biggest and best I’ve had in a long time.  And the lobster roll was very fresh, briny, with the big chunks of lobster meat lightly dressed in mayonnaise and set nicely on a toasted bun.  Even the fries were good.  They should, however, do away with the packaged tartar sauce, a commercially produced sauce set in the usual foil package.

A pint of batter-dipped clams

By the time we finished, about 45 minutes later, the place was packed: a line of 30 deep at the ordering window and nary a place to park in the lot. In fact, one brazen customer, a rather large woman, stood in an empty space, arms folded like a sentry and legs spread apart like a drill sergeant laying claim to this parking spot waiting for whomever to arrive.  At that hour, there’s a parking attendant supervising the scene and she looked at the women in the empty space and rolled her eyes. “It’s Labor Day,” she said.  “Things will change soon enough.”

But I’ll be back a few more times until they close after Columbus Day to enjoy those fried clams again and what is virtually one of the finest lobster rolls in the state.

Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster, 36 Main St., South Freeport, ME 207-865-4888, www.harraseeketlunchandlobster.com

Rating: Basic lobster pound fare very well done

Ambiance: Not a dramatic waterfront setting but rather a typical Maine harbor scene with great views

Service: professional and well paced if the restaurant isn’t overly crowded

Parking: on-site lot

$$$: lunch for two was $50 including beverages (but it’s also byob)