August 24, 2008

100 Clams for 100 Clams

University Village ain't no real village, and it's tempting to assume that its various eateries ain't no real restaurants, either. After all, who goes to a mall for the food, other than overstuffed flatland touristers? But while the overall level of U Village gastronomy offers no particular challenge, it does at least provide familiarity and comfort, exactly the right niche for Atlas Foods, part of the Chow Foods mini-chain of six neighborhood restaurants (5-Spot, Coastal Kitchen, etc.).

Some time back, Atlas repositioned itself as a seafood house. Sure, the menu still has plenty of faux-southern Billy-Bob platters to satisfy the mall-cruising mastodons, but there's a commitment on the fresh sheet to food that swims to the plate.
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The current promotion involves clams: clam hash at breakfast, a clamwich at lunch, a redundant "clams vongole" at dinner. All in good fun, Atlas even staged a clam-eating contest (100 manilas steamed with jalapeno, cilantro and garlic) this weekend. Four heats of four eaters, followed by an eat-off of another 100 clams.

Now, competitive eating can be a dangerous sport, but the 16 contestants all signed waivers acknowledging the risks. An Atlas spokesman said that volunteers from the kitchen staff had downed 100 clams in about three and a half minutes, but the fastest time in the prelims was 2:56. A woman from France was edged out in the first heat; so was a sixty-ish, white-haired dude; they both entered, they said, because they loved clams.

In the finals, it was all 20-something males [YouTube video except of prelims here, full final heat here]. The winner, just barely: Ryan Foss, a junior majoring in environmental studies at Western. His prize: a $100 bill.

Atlas Foods, 2675 NE Village Lane, 206-522-6025 Atlas Foods on Urbanspoon.

Posted by Ronald Holden at August 24, 2008 10:29 AM | TrackBack

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