Serious travelers to Boston in search of authentic New England fare perfectly rendered should make straight for Jasper White's Summer Shack in Cambridge. Now in its second year, this rambling, convivially noisy, 300-seat supershack is a Cape Cod set piece with painted tin walls, tables covered with kraft paper, and sparkly lights—and it feels as though it were outdoors.
The skillful, Falstaffian Jasper oversees the cooking of local classics such as clams steamed in a heady broth; immaculately fried, puffy and meaty salt codfish cakes; Boston scrod with lobster sauce; whole, broiled, or sautéed fluke; and, of course, lobster many ways, including in a succulent salad on a thin, butter-toasted roll. Giant baskets holding authentic clam bakes are lowered into monster vats and soups such as creamy (but not pasty) clam chowder and a dark-rum-spiked Bermuda fish chowder are as delectable as one might expect from the author of the cookbook 50 Chowders (Scribners). Delicious sides include baked yellow-eye beans, toasted brown bread, potato salad.
Plenty of fairly priced wines are listed, although beer, offered in great variety, seems better suited to the lusty fare. No reservations for groups smaller than eight (so expect long waits at weekend dinners, but never at lunches). Dinner daily; lunch Monday through Friday. $40-$80. 49 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge, MA 02140; 617-520-9500.