100 Clams for 100 Clams

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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.

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on August 24, 2008 10:29 AM.

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