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Lobster Rolls

I had my first lobster roll in Gloucester, Massachusetts sometime in the late 1980s. Since that fateful day, I’ve had many more, but it wasn’t until January, 2000 that I started sharing my opinions on the Web. This page has been growing steadily ever since and now there are pages devoted to lobster rolls from Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and, of course, Maine. Bon appetit!

—Tony Green

Considering the Lobster Roll

I admit it. I’m obsessed with lobster rolls. This simple sandwich—a hot dog bun grilled in butter, bursting with fresh, succulent lobster meat—is the perfect vehicle for the noblest crustacean of all.

Even though these pages are devoted to chronicling my lobster-roll experiences in detail, I’m guessing you’re probably just looking for the “best” one. I do have my favorites (scroll down to “The Best” if you can’t wait to see them), but keep in mind that I’ve rarely had a bad one. When your main ingredient is lobster, it’s hard to go far wrong. Before reading the reviews, please take a moment to read The Disclaimer:

Disclaimer: As you read these reviews, please keep in mind my ideal lobster roll. That may help explain why I don’t like a roll you love and vice versa.

For one thing, I prefer lobster-salad rolls to hot lobster rolls (which are commonly served in Connecticut), so there are almost no reviews of hot rolls. I like a simple roll without much dressing or garnish—nothing but bite-size chunks of cool lobster with maybe a tiny bit of mayo or fresh lemon juice. A single leaf of lettuce is acceptable, but I’d rather not find any celery, crunchy lettuce such as iceberg, or anything else for that matter in the salad. The bun should be top-split and grilled on the sides in butter. I like a fully-packed roll, but not so full that I need to eat it with a fork first. A lobster roll is a sandwich, and I want to pick it up like a sandwich and eat it. I like to get a mix of buttery bread and lobster in every bite.

Most places I have visited only once, so if they were having a bad day (or a good day), the review may not accurately reflect their roll at other times. On the other hand, the places I’ve visited more than once have been remarkably consistent, so it’s probably fair to judge a place based on one visit.

Finally, I haven’t tried every lobster roll there is, not by a long shot. For example, I’ve only had one lobster roll in Manhattan, and yet from all I have heard, some of the best lobster rolls are found there. Likewise, Cape Cod is vastly underrepresented. That situation is not likely to change. I only eat lobster rolls on vacation once a year or so, and after 2006 I came to the conclusion that I was passing up a lot of fine food just to have a lobster roll. My lobster-roll consumption is therefore likely to decline rather than increase in the years ahead. Still, I am sure I will continue to chronicle each and every one. Well, that’s it for the disclaimer. Let’s eat!

The Best

In the past I have chosen a “best lobster roll,” but that’s a hopeless task that diverts attention away from many worthy places. Rather than choosing the one “best” lobster roll, I have decided to list all the places I have visited that serve an outstanding roll. The list is based solely on the roll itself with no consideration given to service, amenities, ambience, or price.

The only lobster roll I have reservations about in this list is the one from Castine Variety. The one I tried in 2006 had too much mayo, but others have reported that is unusual. Besides, some people like a lot of mayo. Here they are, in roughly geographical order from north to south:

Maine
Beal’s Lobster Pier, Southwest Harbor
Castine Variety, Castine
The Lobster Dock, Boothbay Harbor
Boothbay Lobster Wharf, Boothbay Harbor
Maine Diner, Wells
Miss Brunswick Diner, Brunswick
Two Lights Lobster Shack, Cape Elizabeth
Cape Porpoise Lobster Company, Cape Porpoise
Massachusetts
Essex Seafood, Essex
Connecticut
Sea Swirl, Mystic
Bill’s Seafood, Westbrook

Some random notes: I have to mention two other places that make outstanding salad, if not lobster rolls: Bob’s Seafood in Windham and Bayley’s Lobster Pound in Pine Point. It’s interesting that both of these places use non-standard, non-grilled rolls. If they switched rolls they would leap to the top of the list. A sentimental favorite remains Barnacle Billy’s Etc in Perkins Cove (near Ogunquit). For years they made my favorite roll until 2005. I still love the place and continue to go there. The roll is good and the ambience, service, and view of the adjacent garden and picturesque harbor is unsurpassed. It is a crime that I have only had one of the many lobster rolls available in Manhattan. Even though I’ve never been there, I have to mention Pearl Oyster Bar. Finally, I know I said I wouldn’t pick a single best place, but I will say that Bob’s Seafood in Windham serves up the best salad I’ve ever had, and my overall favorite is currently Boothbay Lobster Wharf.

If you think I’m crazy because I didn’t pick Red’s Eats in Wiscasset as the best (as most people do), please check out my opinion of Red’s, and we can just agree to disagree. You’re more than welcome to put up your own tribute to the lobster roll.

Rather than get too hung up on “bests,” I might add that the best roll is the one nearest you. To find the closest one, please visit my map of selected lobster-roll destinations in Maine, Connecticut, and New York City and start plotting your course.

Well, that’s it. If you’re still interested, please read on for comments on all the other lobster rolls I’ve enjoyed. Other than my list of favorites above, I haven’t attempted to rank all the places I’ve been to; you’ll have to plow through the reviews for each state. See if you can do that without getting hungry! This page contains my comments on the lobster rolls I’ve sampled in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine are covered on their own pages.

Lobster Roll Recipe

You don’t have to go all the way to Maine to get an authentic lobster roll. All you really need is some good lobster (and ideally a top-split roll). I made a lobster roll myself using lobsters that were on sale at the local supermarket (Genuardi’s). (They steamed the lobster for me.) I have to admit that these lobster rolls were about as good as I’ve ever had.

  • 4 ounces of steamed lobster meat, thoroughly rinsed in cold water and chilled
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • half a lemon
  • hot dog roll, “top-split” or “New England” style (example: J.J. Nissen)*
  • 1 tablespoon diced celery (optional)
  1. Grill the outsides of the roll in butter. If you have a non top-split roll, simply trim the crust off the sides first and then grill.
  2. Toss the lobster meat gently in a bowl with the mayonnaise. Then, using half a lemon, squeeze lemon juice all over the meat and rinse off most of the mayonnaise. The lobster should be barely coated.
  3. Pick the meat out of the bowl, letting it drain briefly, and load the roll.
  4. Serve with lemonade or iced tea.

*The top-split roll is a rare item outside of New England. This thread at Roadfood offers some regional options, but it looks like the only mail-order option is Maple and More, which will fetch you authentic J.J. Nissen rolls, although at a premium price. For that kind of money, you might as well just order the lobster roll kit from Hancock Gourmet Lobster.

Mail-Order Lobster Rolls

If you can’t get to Maine, or just can’t wait for the treat of an authentic lobster roll, some places will ship them to you. The only place I’ve tried so far is Hancock Gourmet Lobster and frankly, I don’t feel I need to look further. The rolls were perfect and reasonably priced. We tried them in June, 2005. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

Lobster roll kit from Hancock Gourmet Lobster

The lobster roll kit is shipped overnight in an iced styrofoam cooler and includes six rolls and one pound of lobster salad. Price is $58 plus $21.50 shipping, which is exactly what you would pay for six rolls in a restaurant in Maine. Except you don’t have to go to Maine. A steal, I’m tellin’ ya.

Six top-split rolls

So I said to these rolls, “You’re not from around here are you?” I’ve occasionally seen top-split rolls in supermarkets in Philadelphia, but none as nice as these. Note the large uncrusted area on the end just ready for buttering.

Tub of lobster salad

The heart of a lobster roll is the salad. The ingredients list is simple: “lobster meat, mayonnaise, spices.” It looks like it wasn’t dressed with anything at all, which is exactly how I like it. In addition, the lobster itself was sweet and tender.

The finished lobster roll

The top-split rolls grilled to an even, golden brown. The finished product was about as good as any I’ve ever eaten.

“The Other White Meat”

I used to use the slogan “Lobster. It’s the other white meat.” as a signature in my email messages. I thought it was a humorous way of saying that lobster should be as ubiquitous as pork in peoples’ diets. Someone told me, however, that a similar slogan was being used by the Maine Lobster Promotion Council: “The Ultimate White Meat.” The Council ran afoul of the National Port Producers Council who alleged that the Lobster Council’s twist on the pork slogan infringed and diluted their trademark. Rather than risking a cease-and-desist letter from the National Pork Producers Council, I’ve abandoned the phrase. (For more information, see these copyrighted stories.)

Let’s Eat: Lobster Rolls Outside Maine

Yes, you can get a lobster roll without going to Maine, but why not go? It’s a great excuse! I’ve used it once or twice myself.

Below are some comments on lobster rolls I’ve tried in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Florida. (Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Maine have their own pages.)

Pennsylvania

Even my hometown (land-locked Philadelphia) has a few places that sell lobster rolls. Probably the best one is at Legal Seafood in King of Prussia. I haven’t been to this location yet, but tried the lobster roll at a Legal Seafood in Baltimore, and it was excellent (see review below under Maryland).

Philadelphia Fish & Company

I had read in the Philadelphia Inquirer that one of Philadelphia’s premiere seafood restaurants, Philadelphia Fish & Company on Chestnut Street (just north of Second Street), had added an authentic Maine lobster roll to their bar menu. I wasn’t able to sample their roll immediately, but in July, 2002, a reliable source informed me that their lobster roll is served on a grilled hot-dog bun (full marks!), but uses rather a lot of mayonnaise and a leaf of lettuce. Too bad. The final verdict was that theirs was an adequate lobster roll, if not a great one. If he hadn’t just eaten a near-perfect lobster roll at the Cove Fish Market, he might have been more merciful, but it was a tough act to follow. On a subsequent visit, however, he told me that the roll had less mayonnaise and was judged near perfect.

The lobster roll at Philadelphia Fish & Company, circa March, 2003

The lobster roll at Philadelphia Fish & Company, circa March, 2003.

It wasn’t until March, 2003 that I had an opportunity to try it for myself. The restaurant was positively upscale with a very nice atmosphere and good service. Unfortunately, the lobster roll was disappointing. The roll itself was indeed the authentic “top-split” style, and it was grilled in butter to perfection. The lobster itself was somewhat chewy, and I missed the al dente bite of the best quality meat. Perhaps it had been mishandled at some point. The dressing was an herbed mayonnaise with a strong flavor of lemon and an herb I couldn’t identify (it’s right on the tip of my tongue...). The problem was it was simply too strong a flavor, not to mention that there was just too much of it. Despite all these criticisms, I enjoyed the sandwich and would probably have another one given the chance. They were so close, too! I was just disappointed that I will have to wait to go to Maine again before I can enjoy the real thing.

Update: Philadelphia Fish & Company closed in April, 2009 and from all reports, the lobster roll had gone way downhill in the last days leading up to the closing.

Bridgewater’s Pub

I was excited to learn that there was a lobster roll at Bridgewater’s Pub, a restaurant in the Amtrak 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. When I finally got around to going there in early 2005, they had removed it from the menu! Then in June, 2005 I read a post on eGullet mentioning the lobster roll. Sure enough, it was back. I didn’t dawdle this time and stopped there on July 7, 2005. There was the lobster roll prominently featured on the chalkboard outside.

The Pub occupies one long, narrow room in the southwest corner of the station. There is bar running the length of it and tall tables along the wall; I sat at the bar. I was impressed with the service; the staff were engaging and friendly. The lobster roll was a disappointment, however. On the plus side, the meat itself was tender (not overcooked and tough) and there was plenty of it, and the bun itself was the genuine top-split style, properly buttered and grilled. So far, perfect. Unfortunately, the lobster was swimming in mayonnaise and celery, which was overpowering. This roll reminded me of the one from The Lobster Roll in Amagansett. If they were trying to copy it, they did a good job. I just didn’t think it was such a good roll.

In 2007, chef Michael Zulli started serving lobster roll “sliders,” which are a vast improvement over the soupy lobster roll they used to offer. They are described as “poached lobster, celery, mayo on a trio of grilled buttered buns,” but there wasn’t a trace of mayo on this lobster, just pure, unadulterated crustacean. The butter from the grilled buns complemented the lobster perfectly for a taste of buttery goodness in every bite. Awesome. Early in June, 2007, I learned that the sliders had been removed from the menu. At $18, they probably weren’t selling regularly enough.

Glenmorgan

I was delighted to find out—quite by accident—that Glenmorgan (in the Radnor Hotel not far from where I work) serves a lobster roll on their lunch menu. It’s an enjoyable sandwich that will scratch your lobster-roll itch if you’re in the neighborhood, but it’s not good enough to warrant a special trip.

The weather was unseasonably warm for October, so we sat at one of the tables outside. Service was prompt and professional. At first I thought the roll they used was a baguette, but I soon discovered that the crust was very soft like a sub or hoagie roll. Instead of grilling or toasting the roll, it looks like they drizzled some melted butter on the inside; this touch didn’t contribute much. The salad sat on a substantial amount of shredded lettuce. The lettuce was so tender, however, that it wasn’t a distraction at all. The lobster itself wasn’t bursting with flavor the way it does in the best rolls, although the meat was reasonably fresh, tender and chunky. A lot of the flavor was due to the pleasant, unobtrusive dressing (it didn’t taste like plain mayonnaise) and a small amount of celery. Overall, this wasn’t bad at all, but considering the price (which is very reasonable for a lobster roll) and the quality, I would be tempted to try something else on the menu next time. ($13.00 with chips in October, 2007.)

Lobster roll at Glenmorgan in Radnor, PA

The lobster roll at Glenmorgan in Radnor, PA. (October, 2007)

Yann at 122 S. 18th Street served a gussied-up lobster roll, but unfortunately they closed before I had a chance to try it, although it sounded delicious.

Other lobster rolls I have yet to sample in Philadelphia include one at The Terrace in the lobby of the Center City Sheraton and one at McCormick & Schmick’s, a chain that reportedly serves a lobster roll.

The Oyster House, 1516 Samson, has a “New England Style Lobster Roll” for $26.

Maryland

There is a Legal Seafood in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor that I visited in 2007. I had eaten at other Legal Seafood locations and always had great meals, so I was looking forward to their lobster roll. The lobster roll was big, built on kind of a large version of a top split roll which they might have carved from a thick slice of white bread, grilled perfectly. The salad had very large chunks of meat with no filler, lightly dressed with mayo and lemon juice, tender and flavorful, although not the ultimate, all on top of one large leaf of Bibb lettuce. Very good fries. ($22.95 in April, 2007.)

Lobster roll at Legal Seafood in Baltimore

The lobster roll at Legal Seafood, Baltimore. (This photo was taken in April, 2007.)

New Hampshire

In August, 2006, I was hoping to get to two places in New Hampshire, Town Docks in Meredith and Kimball Farm in Jaffrey. Unfortunately, I only made it to Town Docks.

Town Docks is one of the most confusing restaurants I’ve ever visited, mainly because it’s like there are two restaurants: “inside” and “outside.” If you elect to stay inside, then you order at a counter and grab a table, or wait for one to open up; you can’t take your order outside. If you elect to go outside on the deck overlooking the water, then there is only waitress service. There’s a bar outside if you want beer or spirits, but if you chose to sit inside, then it’s strictly self-service; you head outside the bar and get your own drinks and bring them in. I’ve never seen anything like it. I would recommend sitting outside. The deck is spacious and overlooks Meredith Bay. Very nice.

Their roll was pretty good, although it was finely minced lobster salad, not the chunky style I prefer. Other Common Man restaurants may serve lobster rolls; I didn’t check.

Town Docks in Meredith

Town Docks in Meredith.

Kimball Farm’s lobster roll is highly regarded and was rated Best of New Hampshire 2003 by New Hampshire Magazine. Tamarac Restaurant in Laconia (near Lake Winnipesaukee) was picked Best Lobster Roll by the magazine in 2006. Ocean Boulevard offers Lupo’s Seafood & Grille and La Bec Rouge in Hampton Beach, and Petey’s Summertime Seafood in Rye. Brown’s Seabrook Lobster Pound in Seabrook Beach. Crustaceans Seafood Eatery & Tavern (in Thayers Inn in Littleton) serves a lobster roll, but they were closed when we were there.

South Carolina

We were on vacation in Charleston in April, 2007 and not even thinking about lobster rolls (much), when I happened to notice an “oyster bar.” It was called Pearlz Oyster Bar. Hmm. I wonder where they got that great name? Pearl. Oyster. Get it? :-)

Pearlz Oyster Bar in Charleston

Sure enough they serve a lobster roll, and it was just fine if a little bland. What an unexpected treat that was.

Lobster roll at Pearlz Oyster Bar in Charleston

The lobster roll at Pearlz Oyster Bar. (This photo was taken in April, 2007.)

Florida

I found a lobster roll in Florida at the Celebration Town Tavern in Celebration, a small town not far from Disney World. Billed as an “authentic New England tavern,” they seem to come by this claim honestly, as there is some kind of connection with a place called Kelly’s Landing with a location in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Their roll was $13.95 including fries. The lobster was tender and dressed with virtually no mayo, nestled inside a leaf of lettuce on a top-split bun. The roll displayed grill marks, but almost no trace of butter. The salad was so good, I’ll let them slide on the lettuce and the roll. Overall, a terrific roll. I may never find myself in Florida again, but the experience made me want to try Kelly’s Landing in Weymouth.

The lobster roll at Celebration Town Tavern, circa January, 2005

The lobster roll at Celebration Town Tavern. ($13.95 with fries in January, 2005.)

Shore Restaurant & Beach Bar, 6 South Ocean Drive, Delray Beach opened in May, 2005.

A La Carte, 331 First Avenue North in Jacksonville Beach serves a lobster roll at lunch.

The Clam Bake, 16520 South Tamiami Trail (Island Park Shopping Center), Fort Myers opened in March, 2005.

Nemo’s New England Seafood, 8573 S. U.S. 1, Port Saint Lucie.

New Jersey

In September, 2007, I had my first lobster roll in New Jersey at Jackson Mountain Cafe (where Jackson Street intersects the pedestrian mall in Cape May). Instead of using a frankfurter or hamburger bun, the sandwich was built on a large and very fresh croissant that was neither grilled nor toasted. It also included lettuce and tomato. I tried a bite, but found the tomato overpowered the lobster, so I removed both the lettuce and tomato to enjoy the rest of the sandwich. The salad was pretty good; it was fairly chunky, tender and flavorful and lightly dressed with mayo. There wasn’t a lot of salad, especially considering how big the croissant was, but overall it’s a decent sandwich. I would order it again.

Lobster roll at Jackson Mountain Cafe in Cape May

The lobster roll at Jackson Mountain Cafe. (This photo was taken in September, 2007.)

On a visit to Stone Harbor in March, 2008, my brother-in-law’s eagle eye spotted a sign advertising “Fresh Lobster on a Roll.” A lobster roll in Stone Harbor??? We swerved into the parking lot of Pat’s Lunch at around 5:00 PM.

Pat's Lunch, Stone Harbor

Pat’s Lunch on Stone Harbor Boulevard.

The restaurant was empty at the time (this was the off season), and the ebullient owner, Pat Tirotta, had a captive audience, so he began by fanning out press clippings about himself and his restaurant on the counter. It’s no wonder that the New York Times wrote a story about him back in 2001. Originally from South Philly, he has had this place since 1966 and is now 88 years old, obviously still going strong. Pat made us taste all his homemade soups, which we ordered. I sampled the lobster roll, of course, and regretted not bringing a camera.

Pat Tirotta

88-year-old Pat Tirotta telling us youngsters a thing or two.

I finally got back to Pat’s on a dreary, rainy day in late May with a camera to get some pictures. Now that I have had Pat’s roll on two different occasions, I can say that his lobster roll is pretty decent, but inconsistent. The first time the salad was so cold, it didn’t have much flavor. The second time I tried it, the main thing I noticed was that it was quite salty. The other problem is that Pat doesn’t grill or toast the hot dog bun. Still, the fact that he even serves a lobster roll endeared him to me, despite the roll’s shortcomings. While Pat’s roll might not be worth a pilgrimage, all of Pat’s soups certainly are, especially the she-crab. I bought a quart of it to go on my last trip.

Lobster roll at Pat's Lunch

The lobster roll at Pat’s Lunch. (May, 2008)

Very shortly after I had my first lobster roll at Pat’s Lunch, I learned that there was another lobster roll right in Stone Harbor at Quahog’s Seafood Shack. This place just opened in 2008 and is owned by Lucas Manteca, who also owns Sea Salt in Stone Harbor. We tried going there for lunch on a Saturday, but a sign indicated that the dining room would not open until 5:00. (I’m not sure, but I believe they have a takeout window that is open for lunch.)

The exterior is quite faux New England seafood shack, and I imagined the interior would be cramped. Quite the opposite, in fact. There is a large bar in the first room, then a large dining room (seating about 40), and then an even larger covered outdoor seating area in back. We sat in the dining room.

The interior repeated the seafood shack theme of the exterior; for example, there was a display of vintage oyster tins next to our table. Our waitress was more marine biologist than server; she was extremly knowedgeable about the fish on the menu, which were represented as being from sustainable species, as well as its preparation. While everyone else had fish (catfish, dorado and silver salmon), I was there for the lobster roll, of course.

Lobster roll at Quahog's Seafood Shack

The lobster roll at Quahog Seafood Shack. (This photo was taken in July, 2008.)

Lobster roll at Quahog's Seafood Shack

Here’s the roll with a few bites taken out of it. I think this shows just how much roll there was in proportion to the salad.

The roll came with a radish and celery-leaf garnish. The dressing was not just plain mayo, but had a little “heat” to it. Overall, there was a little too much dressing for my taste. While the lobster and dressing were good, it was the bun itself that sabotaged the sandwich. The roll was thick and dense and neither grilled nor toasted. The salad was mounded on top in a narrow wedge that made it hard to eat without spilling, and the bun was so stiff that I wasn’t able to spread it open to tuck the salad down.

Everyone else in our party really enjoyed their meal, so I would definitely return here, but I sure wouldn’t order this lobster roll again.

 

These are the only rolls I’ve had in New Jersey so far, but here are some other places to try:

Rhode Island

Over Labor Day weekend in 2007, I finally had a lobster roll in Rhode Island, and it was a great one. I had always heard good things about St. Clair Annex in tiny Watch Hill and now I know why. First, I liked the informal atmosphere of this place and the bustling yet relaxed pace that perfectly suits its location among a row of shops nestled near the beach. Inside you order at a counter in back and when your number is called, take your bounty to one of the tables for four. They seem to have just the right number of tables—the whole time we were there, the place was just short of full, and there was always a table available.

Their roll features the standard split-top frankfurter bun, but this one was grilled to perfection and still warm from the grill. As common as this style of grilled roll is, it’s rare that you can really taste the butter, which adds an essential dimension to the lobster-roll experience. There was a small base of shredded lettuce under the lobster that I could have done without, but there was so little that it didn’t detract. The lobster itself consisted of bite-size, tender chunks with lots of flavor, dressed with a very small amount of mayo. Some might call the Annex roll small, but I think it was just the right size. I think it was priced just right for its size, and considering its quality, is actually a bargain. I liked it so much, I had two! ($11.75 including crinkle-cut fries in September, 2007.)

Lobster roll at St. Clair Annex in Watch Hill

The lobster roll at St. Clair Annex in Watch Hill. (September, 2007)

Here are some other lobster rolls in Rhode Island I’ve read about, but haven’t visited:

Washington, DC

Hank's Oyster Bar

Hank’s Oyster Bar on Q Street near 17th in Washington.

I have eaten at only a handful of restaurants in Washington, so I confess I have no idea where Hank’s Oyster Bar fits in the restaurant ecosystem. One thing’s for sure: it’s not a “seafood shack.” It strikes a nice balance between informality and luxuriousness with its casual sidewalk seating area that flows organically into the more-formal high-ceilinged dining room.

Our party of four arrived at 7:00 PM on a Friday evening and were prepared for a wait. There were a couple of empty tables available, so while I wasn’t shocked that we were seated immediately, I was still surprised. The menu featured a lot of tempting items, so although we all ordered the lobster roll, everyone chose an appetizer as well. My friend’s lobster bisque was the best he ever had and even included several substantial chunks of lobster. I had a superb Caesar salad with the best anchovies I ever had. You get the idea; I thought the food was great.

The lobster roll itself was a minor disappointment. The bread was more of an artisanal homage to the archetypal top-split frankfurter bun; more substantial and—strangely enough—grilled on only one side without much noticeable buttery flavor. The salad included a fair amount of celery and a mix of nice chunks and stringier lobster. I didn’t notice any mayo at all. My only real complaint was that the flavor was bland, despite the fact that the meat was tender and fresh. The weak flavor certainly couldn’t stand up to the awesome Old Bay fries or the buttermilk onion rings I snitched from a friend’s plate. It was a good roll, but considering its price and the high quality of everything else at Hank’s, I would definitely order something else next time. ($23.00 with fries in September, 2007.)

Lobster roll at Hank's Oyster Bar in Washington, DC

The lobster roll at Hank’s Oyster Bar in Washington, DC. (September, 2007)

I haven’t been to any of these other places yet.

Kinkead’s, 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

Central Michel Richard, 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, has been serving a “lobster burger” apparently since 2002 that sounds intriguing.

Occidental, 1475 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

 

The rest of these places are in far-flung states that I am unlikely to visit.

Ohio

Allure in Cincinnati supposedly serves a lobster roll at lunch.

North Carolina

Village Bistro, Ballantyne (Charlotte).

Illinois

This Metromix article lists a number of places in Chicago.

Wisconsin

Mason Street Grill, 425 East Mason Street, Milwaukee opened in November, 2006.

Texas

Sea Breeze Fish Market & Grill LakeSide Market Center, 4017 Preston Road, Suite 530, Plano, Texas.

Colorado

Steuben’s, 523 East 17th Avenue, Denver.

California

Organized roughly from north to south. I haven’t been to any of these places, although I did add them to my lobster roll map...

Napa Valley Lobster Shack, 806 4th Street, Napa. [CLOSED]

Yankee Pier, 286 Magnolia Avenue in Larkspur.

Woodhouse Fish Company, 2073 Market Street in San Francisco.

The Lobster Shack, 532 Green Street in San Francisco.

Yankee Pier in San Francisco Airport.

Tanglewood in San Jose.

Yankee Pier, 378 Santana Row in San Jose.

Old Port Lobster Shack, 851 Veterans Blvd., at Jefferson, Redwood City.

Sam’s Chowder House on Highway 1 (4210 North Cabrillo Highway) north of Half Moon Bay. MSNBC considered theirs among the “best sandwiches in America.”

The Hungry Cat, 1535 North Vine Hollywood.

The Future

I keep a list of places to try the next time I head north to New England. The list never gets shorter, though. For each place I visit, I find a new one to try. If you’re traveling to New England, definitely consider getting a copy of New England’s Favorite Seafood Shacks (more info below under Books). You’re encouraged and welcome to recommend your favorite place to me (Tony Green). Send an email to the address at the bottom of this page.

Here’s a selection of sites to search for lobster roll recommendations:

Books

The best guide I have found to finding new lobster roll places is New England’s Favorite Seafood Shacks: Eating Up the Coast from Connecticut to Maine by Elizabeth Bougerol. Published in 2006, I got my copy in early 2007. The book is by far the most comprehensive guide to seafood shacks (virtually all of which serve lobster rolls) I have seen either in print or online. The only omission are the restaurants that serve lobster rolls in New York (around 30 in Manhattan and Brooklyn and probably 20 on Long Island), but that’s only because New York is not part of New England, of course. Point being it’s a fantastic guide to eating seafood in New England. There is even a list of “Ten Lobster Rolls You Won’t Want to Miss.” There’s a lifetime’s worth of delicious destinations in this book. For more information, read more about the book here and pay a visit to her Flickr gallery.

Jane and Michael Stern have crisscrossed America in search of great restaurants, the farther off the beaten path the better. I bought the first edition of their book, Roadfood, and visited a number of recommended restaurants (mostly barbecue places), but was disappointed by every one. I gave up on Roadfood, but that’s not to say I think their advice is worthless. I still enjoyed the book very much. The Splendid Table web site features many of their picks on the “Where We Eat” page. Most interesting to me is their list of best lobster rolls on the eastern seaboard. It’s suspicious that only one restaurant is in Maine, and it’s difficult to believe that three of the four “best lobster rolls” are found in Connecticut. True to form, the two places I’ve visited from their list were below average. Some things never change, I guess. Still, the book is a valuable resource and worth checking out. Another book is their Roadfood Sandwiches: Recipes and Lore from Our Favorite Shops Coast to Coast that I haven’t seen yet.

There are two other books I’m aware of that feature lobster rolls prominently. I confess I haven’t read either one of them.

Lobster Rolls and Blueberry Pie: Three Generations of Recipes and Stories from Summers on the Coast of Maine by Rebecca Charles (who owns the Pearl Oyster Bar in Manhattan) and Deborah Di Clementi. I found out about this book when Rebecca Charles was interviewed on our local NPR station, WHYY, by Jim Coleman on his show A Chef’s Table.

Another book is The Lobster Roll {and other pleasures of summer by the beach} by Andrea Terry and Jodi della Femina. Andrea Terry is owner of The Lobster Roll restaurant in Amagansett.

Posts in “Lobster Rolls”

August 28, 2009

Bethenny Frankel’s New York Lobster-Roll Crawl [nanoblog]

Really swell review of five of the principal lobster rolls in Manhattan—Lure Fish Bar, Ed's Fish Bar, Mermaid Inn, Pearl Oyster Bar, and Mary's Fish Camp—by Bethenny Frankel and friends. Bravo!

June 18, 2009

World’s Longest Lobster Roll

I don’t know what possessed me to drive all the way to Maine just to witness the creation of the World’s Longest Lobster Roll. Sure, I love lobster rolls, but I prefer rolls you can pick up and eat (unlike the giants from Red’s Eats, Pearl Oyster Bar, or Mary’s Fish Camp, for example). In the end, I decided it was worth making an exception to be in on this history-making event. Besides, it was great fun.

When we arrived at the site on Commercial Street in front of Portland Lobster Company around 11:00, a long string of tables was already set up on the sidewalk. We paid our $20, which entitled us to a certificate of participation, a T-shirt, and, of course, a piece of the Longest Lobster Roll. All we had to do now was stand around in the beautiful sunshine and wait. And take lots of pictures!

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The giant bun showed up near 11:30, but the truck didn’t stop and continued down Commercial Street toward the ferry terminal. By the way, this video includes a description of how Amato’s Bakery made the roll with an oven they mounted on wheels.

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The bun was unloaded from the truck and brought back to the assembly area by a large group of volunteer bun bearers that included members of the Maine Roller Derby team.

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The sixty-foot tray was conveyed gently...

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...and set down on the tables.

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Margaret Salt McLellan, Linda Bean’s executive chef, got to work slitting the roll.

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Then a team of volunteers laid down a bed of Miracle Whip. (Kraft was a generous sponsor of this charitable event.)

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The next step was stuffing the roll with about 48 pounds of lobster meat donated by Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine Lobster Roll.

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Almost finished.

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Done! Sixty-one feet, nine and a half inches.

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The last step was cutting that roll into almost 200 pieces.

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Show us the money. The event helped the West End Neighborhood Association provide swimming lessons for needy children.

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Here’s our portion, complete with chips and lemonade. The meat was superb, very fresh with a hint of the flavor of the sea and absolutely no filler. It’s a shame they couldn’t grill the roll, but that would be completely impractical. Honestly, the Miracle Whip didn’t bother me.

It’s a shame I didn’t get decent pictures of the awesome people who made this all happen, including Linda Bean, the mayor of Portland, and people from the West End Neighborhood Association. It’s also a shame that this would be our only trip to Maine this year, but we had a wonderful time during our one-day stay.

I never thought I would see a lobster roll bigger than Red’s, but this one definitely was. I wonder if Rockland, home of the Maine Lobster Festival, is going to let Portland steal the lobster limelight? The emphasis at the Rockland festival is on whole lobster, not lobster rolls, but the Festival would be a perfect setting to mount a challenge to the record.

Comments

We congratulate our fellow Mainers, the West End Neighborhood Association of Portland. We know first hand how much work goes into a world record attempt.
Please visit coastalcrittersclambakes.com/lobster_roll.html
to read about the trials and triumphs we went through in making our Guinness longest lobster roll record in 1997.

That was some roll, it looks like it was optimized.

Steve, LOL! Speaking of SEO, this post ranks in top 5 on Google or Bing even with no (as far as I know) inbound links. I think maybe because the title contains the keywords? I don't know much about SEO...

December 15, 2008

Hard Core Lobster Roll Junkie [nanoblog]

While doing some lobster roll “research,” I ran across this rather elaborate video produced in early 2008 for Sam’s Chowder House documenting a lobster-roll addict as he hits rock bottom. This guy’s got it way worse than I do, and unlike him, I don’t need no steenkin’ intervention—I can quit any time I want.

Comments

Great page-- the lobster roll deserves this much detailed and loving attention.

Please consider trying some lobster rolls from your neighbour just to the north! They're just a popular in Nova Scotia and the other Maritime provinces.

My own favourite is at the Wreck Cove General Store , on the Cabot trail, Cape Breton island.

Sadly, I have never been farther north than Bar Harbor. My loss, I admit. Someday, I hope. Thanks for the recommendation!

September 8, 2008

Dinner at Mary’s Fish Camp

Although I haven’t written much about lobster rolls this year, a lot has been happening—and we haven’t even been to Maine yet. Most recently, Gothamist linked to my lobster-roll map of New York. Then New York Magazine’s Grub Street picked up the story and listed all the places I had overlooked. Since I hadn’t updated my map in almost two years, I was grateful for the information (the map has since been updated). The purpose of the map was to help me decide which of the many places I would be nearest to when I occasionally visit New York.

I knew I would need to go to Pearl Oyster Bar and Mary’s Fish Camp before all the others, because they have had shell in the game the longest (over ten years for Pearl and eight for Mary’s), and both still produce critically-acclaimed lobster rolls. But which one first? Ultimately, I chose Mary’s, because I couldn’t find any discouraging words about Mary’s (giving me confidence that the other three people in our party would be satisfied), and descriptions of the roll led me to suspect that I just might prefer Mary’s to Pearl’s.

We assumed there would be a wait, so we planned to get there early. We queued up at the end of the line about 20 minutes before opening (there were already about 15 people ahead of us). Around 6:00, the host walked the line and took each party’s name and a few minutes later, the first wave was admitted. I think we were the last party to be seated, because we took the last four seats at the counter. If we had missed that first seating, we would have had another hour’s wait.

Mary's Fish Camp

Mary’s Fish Camp is on the corner of 4th and Charles in a quiet residential neighborhood.

I loved sitting at the counter where I could see the entire kitchen and watch everyone bustling about, especially the two cooks, who worked with dazzling speed. They reminded me why I’ll never be a chef—it looks like hard work. Stationed as I was closest to the “entrance” to the kitchen (the break at the end of the counter), I also overheard some interesting conversations (there is really no place for the staff to have a private conversation). At one point there was a conference between two of the servers about the status of a table. One asked the other, “Did you bread them?” Naturally I had visions of a giant tank of egg mixture next to a mountain of crumbs. The other thing I picked up was a vibe of positive energy from the staff—they really seem to like working there.

I ordered the lobster roll and a Brooklyn Lager (other draft-beer choices were Guinness Stout and Anchor Steam), toyed with the packet of Westminster oyster crackers and nibbled on Anne’s salad. The roll arrived festooned with a giant rooster tail of lettuce:

Mary's Fish Camp roll as served

I was relieved to find that the lettuce was merely garnish; there was no lettuce in the roll itself. Once I set the lettuce aside, I was dismayed by the enormous amount of mayo. That didn’t turn out to be as much of a problem as I anticipated, however.

Mary's Fish Camp roll with lettuce removed

The lobster roll at Mary’s Fish Camp. Probably enough lobster to fill two rolls.

As you can see, the roll was overstuffed, so I chose to work at it with a fork (I would have preferred less lobster, but this quantity seems typical of sandwiches served as entrées, especially an entrée that I believe is the most expensive dish on the menu). After a couple of bites, I realized that the copious quantity of mayonnaise wasn’t the end of the world.

Normally, I like lobster that has been barely kissed with mayo (a tablespoon per roll is about right), so you would think I would hate this roll. But I didn’t, because for one thing, you could still actually taste the lobster, unusual in rolls with this much dressing. And the mayo itself was slightly warmed and quite luscious. Still, I would have preferred far less mayo, especially since the lobster itself was so good. But if you like mayo, this is the roll for you! One thing that was perfect was the bun itself, crisply grilled and buttered sufficiently so you could really taste the butter with each bite.

I mentioned earlier that Mary’s only seats about 35 people, yet even with the legions of hungry New Yorkers outside with their noses pressed against the glass, there was never any pressure on us to leave. We didn’t dawdle, however, and even with dessert we were finished in an hour. It will be interesting to try some of the other lobster rolls in New York, but they could hardly be much better than Mary’s. ($33.00 with fries in August, 2008. | map and directions)

Comments

Completely agree with your assessment of Mary's - surprisingly ok despite the mayo, made tastier by the buttered roll. Are you considering trying Ed's (another spinoff of the original Pearl)? Compared to Mary's and Pearls, it can be a little fresher. A short review on our lunch there.

Mary's is the one that had a lot of heat after a Pearl chef left and started it up and it looked a lot like Pearl?

Albert, Mary Redding and Rebecca Charles opened Pearl together until Mary struck out on her own, but I think you're thinking of Ed McFarland, who left POB to open Ed's Lobster Bar. Rebecca Charles sued him for "cloning" her restaurant; they settled out of court in April.

I've never had a lobster roll. There, I said it. But I plan on using your map!

Yen, I really need to get to Pearl next for the same reason I wanted to go to Red's Eats. Not because I’m going to have a great roll (I sure didn’t like Red’s Eats), but simply because Pearl is the oldest and most well-known. After that pilgrimage is fulfilled, I am certainly curious about Ed’s, and it’s high on the list. Thanks for the link to lunchstudio... wow, awesome!

July 21, 2008

Al Gagnon, Owner of Red’s Eats, Dies

Red’s Eats is a seafood shack in Wiscasset, Maine and the home of what is indisputably the most celebrated lobster roll in the world. I’ve certainly had my differences with Red’s Eats and their version of the lobster roll, but clearly Al Gagnon cared deeply about his lobster roll, and that’s all that matters. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Comments

I was saddened to hear of Al Gagnon's death this summer when I went to visit my brother. I truely hope his daughter's continue his legacy because Wiscasset will not be Wiscasset without "RED'S EATS"!

Marcy,
From what I have read, Al’s daughters will continue operating Red’s Eats and plan to keep things just as they are.

June 6, 2008

Pat’s Lunch in Stone Harbor

On a visit to Stone Harbor earlier this year in March, my brother-in-law’s eagle eye spotted a sign advertising “Fresh Lobster on a Roll.” A lobster roll in Stone Harbor??? We swerved into the parking lot of Pat’s Lunch at around 5:00 PM. The restaurant was empty at the time, and the ebullient owner, Pat Tirotta, had a captive audience, so he began by fanning out press clippings about himself and his restaurant on the counter. It’s no wonder that the New York Times wrote a story about him back in 2001. Originally from South Philly, he has had this place since 1966 and is now 88 years old, obviously still going strong. Pat made us taste all his homemade soups, which we ordered. I sampled the lobster roll, of course, and regretted not bringing a camera.

Pat Tirotta

88-year-old Pat Tirotta telling us youngsters a thing or two.

I finally got back to Pat’s last Saturday (a dreary, rainy day) with a camera to get some pictures. The lobster roll is pretty good, but it was quite salty and Pat doesn't grill the hot dog bun. Still, the fact that he even serves a lobster roll endeared him to me. Pat’s roll might not be worth a pilgrimage, but all of Pat’s soups certainly are, especially the she-crab. I bought a quart of it to go. The stories are pretty tasty, too.

Lobster roll at Pat's Lunch

The lobster roll at Pat’s Lunch.

I assumed Pat’s served the only lobster roll for miles around until I learned the next day that there’s another lobster roll in Stone Harbor at a new place called Quahog’s Seafood Shack. I’m sure I’ll be trying it sometime this summer. With two places, it looks like Stone Harbor is the lobster-roll capital of New Jersey.

Pat's Lunch, Stone Harbor

Pat’s Lunch on Stone Harbor Boulevard.

Comments

went up to Maine last weekend for a wedding. i had 2 lobsters at the reception ;)

but no lobster rolls.

Ah, Maine! At least you got some lobstah.

What kind of self respecting lobster joint prepares a lobster roll on a bun that doesnt have the white part of the roll all exposed so you can slather it with butter and grill it?

Blasphemy I tell you!

Please read for the proper techinque, OY!

How to F^@K Up a Lobster Roll

Ingredients For The Worlds Greatest Lobster Roll

Grill The Buttered Buns To Golden Brown

Joey, you're right; Pat’s bun was a disappointment. When I’m stuck with that kind of bun, I trim off the side crusts to make flat surfaces for grilling. Really enjoyed reading your posts, by the way! I had my first lobster roll ever in Gloucester in the late 1980s. (Sorry your comment got trapped in my spam filter temporarily. I don’t get many comments and hadn’t looked at the queue for a few days.)

We look forward to going to Pat's every day for 5 days each year in June!!! We LOVE his homemade soups (my favorite Lobster, shrimp, crab bisque, while my husband's favorit is She Crab) and adore the lobster roll!!! Listening to him is a real experience. he is such an inspiration. We hope he will be around for many, many more years..satisfying our palates and telling us stories.
PS I am glad he doesn't grill the hot dog buns for the lobster roll, personally I like it with the fresh soft bun!!

If you're ever in Brooklyn try the lobster roll at the cafe in Fairway in Red Hook. It's piled high big hunks of mayonnaisey lobster meat on a toasted bun and served with a slightly sweet creamy fresh cabbage slaw. And it's only $8.95! Plus you get to sit out back at the river with a clear view of the statue of liberty. I think I'll go back right now.

What an effort. Of necessity, your list will be incomplete. You can't possibly visit them all.

My favorite is Thurston's Lobster Pound in Bernard (Mount Desert Island), Maine.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/545925

photos in the first post in that thread

Kit, thanks for the recommendation. This place was news to me; sounds great and so cheap, too! (I see that the New York Times singled out the lobster roll.) I added it to the map.

Mark,
Visit them all I will! Strong with the Force am I!
No, you’re absolutely right, my list isn’t remotely comprehensive, and at the rate of only 10 or so a year, it never will be. But I am having a lot of fun. It’s good that I’m not a completist.
Thanks for the Thurston’s recommendation. I haven’t been there yet, but I asked around last time I was on Mount Desert (2004), and Thurston’s seems to be the favorite of the locals, so it’s at the top of my list. I enjoyed the photos, especially the roll closeups. Well done!

PAT STORMED THE FREAKIN' BEACH ON D-DAY....

THE MAN DESERVES ALL OF OUR RESPECT, ADMIRATION AND GRATITUDE.

GOD BLESS PAT AND PAT'S LUNCH.

Tim, Amen to that. Pat is awesome, and I am so glad to hear he is still going strong. I hope to get down to Stone Harbor soon.

I've had Pat's for my first lobster roll ever. I don't like salty foods and I did not find his lobster roll salty. I loved it! In fact, it's one of the things I'm looking forward to when I head back to the shore this summer. Pat's is on my list all week, as often as I can afford to go.

Bob, I am glad you enjoyed Pat's lobster roll and glad to hear that Pat is still going strong!

Oh man, I just ran into this article by coincidence, nice! I used to go Pat's when I was a kid in the 80's, no less. Best hoagies, best cheesesteak, best everything, and Pat was always great company (his hair was still black back then). I miss that place, glad to hear he continued long after I left.

December 27, 2007

Bridgewater’s Pub Hot Lobster Roll

Stop the presses—hot lobster roll action in Philly. Tonight I was planning to check out Sláinte Pub (I know, I know, yet another Irish pub. I’m Irish, OK?), New Deck Tavern’s little sister. I had to walk right past Bridgewater’s Pub, however, which has a long history of offering lobster-inspired sandwiches from time to time. Naturally I scanned the menu (which changes often), and my eyes bugged out when I spotted the hot lobster roll. Lobster rolls trump Irish pubs every time.

I sat at one of the high-top tables instead of the bar for once and perused the short but thoughtful, eclectic, and ever-changing beer list. During the course of my meal I tried the two seasonals, Spaten’s Holiday Bock and Corsendonk’s Christmas Ale. I preferred the Spaten; the Corsendonk was really doing that Belgian thing which I’m not sure about yet. Maybe when I get a little older...

The hot lobster roll was described thus: "butter, garlic, celery, vanilla." Vanilla? Anyway, what arrived were two tiny hamburger rolls (echoing the late, lamented lobster roll sliders of yore). The inside of the rolls were grilled, and the lobster was indeed hot and generously covered in butter. I immediately noticed alarmingly large chunks of celery, but it was sauteed and tender and blended perfectly. The rolls tasted mostly of butter then lobster; the garlic was a nice seasoning, and I could not detect the vanilla’s contribution. Overall, a success, although not as sublime as the sliders. The rolls are really appetizer-sized (although the French fries helped fill me up), but don’t order this if you’re really hungry. Instead you might consider choosing one of the tempting dishes I passed up: “Three Little Blue Pigs” (wild boar meatballs, rosemary Gorgonzola sauce); “Silver Dollar” burgers (boursin cheese and smoked bacon); Blackened Redfish sandwich; Caribbean Fish & Chips. I mean, really. I love lobster, but it was a tough decision.

December 9, 2007

Another Lobster Roll

Last year we went to Shiroi Hana for my birthday dinner. This year, I was hankering for a lobster roll (regular readers may recall we didn’t make it to Maine this year), so we headed to Legal Sea Foods (in the King of Prussia Mall on the upper level of the Court near Macy’s). I had had a good one at a Legal in Baltimore earlier this year and figured the one in King of Prussia would be just as good. And it was—it’s the best one I’ve had in the tri-state area. I was told that the lobster roll is so popular that they have added it to the dinner menu. I had the blackened tuna sashimi appetizer to warm up my palate for the lobster roll, but even with that I still had room to split a second roll with a friend. The lobster roll at Legal Sea Foods in King of Prussia

The lobster roll at Legal Sea Foods in King of Prussia.

Comments

Mmmm... looks good. Interestingly enough, I've also had good experiences with Legal in Baltimore but have yet to visit the PA version.

I must add that the fried onions (in place of fries) were exceptionally good!

December 3, 2007

Clearwater Lobster Roll

While shopping at Whole Foods yesterday, I spied a small container (7 ounces) of frozen lobster meat (right next to the corn dogs). On impulse I threw it in the cart, even though there was no price on it, along with a package of hot dog buns. The last time I made a lobster roll at home I used actual lobsters, but I thought if I could make a decent lobster roll from this frozen stuff, it would help get me through the winter. The lobster is from Nova Scotia, packed by Clearwater. The package was really too small to make two rolls, but we stretched it to make two. I surgically altered the hot dog buns so we could grill them.

Frankfurter bun with trimmed crust

Trimming the crusts off these ordinary hot dog buns transforms them into New England top-split style. Sort of.

Clearwater’s lobster meat was good quality, tender, and flavorful, but the texture wasn’t as perfect as lobster that has never been frozen (we thawed the meat in cold water per the package directions). I used a little too much lemon juice as well. The buns were a little denser and less tender than the cottony stuff you get in Maine and didn’t grill as well. The finished rolls were satisfying, but nothing amazing. Considering the price of the lobster—a staggering $23—I doubt I will be doing this again soon. I justified the extravagance by reminding myself that that’s about what two rolls would cost in Maine. I conveniently chose to ignore that these were meager rolls of only middling quality.

Lobster roll made with Clearwater lobster

The finished roll was decent, but no more than a faint echo of the best in Maine. It’s going to be a long winter.

Comments

When am I coming over!

Not until I source some better ingredients. I would never serve a lobster roll of such mediocre quality to guests. But thanks for your interest! That might make an interesting MealToday.

September 28, 2007

Lobster Roll Updates [nanoblog]

Even though we didn’t get to Maine this year (*sob*), I did manage to hit a few places closer to home in September. Had my first lobster rolls in two new states (New Jersey and Rhode Island) and added three new places in Connecticut (Sea View Snack Bar in Mystic, and Sono Seaport Seafood and Sono Brewhouse, both in Norwalk) as well as a quality-control visit to Bill’s Seafood in Westbrook (they passed with flying colors). Rhode Island has a lot of places, but I just don’t get there much.

Comments

I'll be going to Rhode Island in a few months. I'll see if I can try out a couple of places.

Brick Alley is where I had mine-- overfilled with lobster to the point where I did need a fork initially, and slightly more mayo than I like, but the buttered bun was delicious!
http://www.brickalley.com/

Yoko, thanks for reporting back after your trip to Rhode Island! I have added Brick Alley to my list. Despite your reservations (which I share), it sounds like one I would like to try.

This is an update to the Philadelphia report on the lobster roll at the Philadelphia Fish & Co. You, and local food writers, and I (a local resident, lobster-roll afficianado living several blocks from Phila. Fish & Co.) had all agreed that the "Fish Co. served a good lobster roll. I would go there every couple months for my lobster roll fix. Well, when I went there about a month ago, what a horrible surprise. What I got was a gooey mess of mayonnaise-infused lobster (probably it was actually lobster SALAD) in the same good, grilled and buttered hot dog bun, and with the same wonderful fries. But the lobster roll was just totally AWFUL. The manager denied any change in the recipe, but it sure was NOT a lobster roll in the proper sense of the name.

Dwight, Thanks for the report. I am really sorry to hear that the lobster roll has gone downhill. I wish I could suggest an alternative place.

Curious...where was the place in NJ? I'd like to try it tks

Don, That was referring to Jackson Mountain Cafe in Cape May, my first roll in New Jersey. It was decent, although served on a croissant. I believe they still have it on the menu. Since then, I’ve been to Pat’s Lunch and Quahog’s Seafood Shack, both in Stone Harbor. The best overall/most authentic was Pat’s Lunch (1105 Stone Harbor Boulevard). Reviews of these places (and some other places to try in New Jersey) on this page: http://merecat.org/food/dining/lobster-rolls/

June 28, 2007

Pearl Oyster Bar Lawsuit

Albert pointed me to a story in The New York Times about a lawsuit filed by Rebecca Charles, owner of Pearl Oyster Bar in Manhattan, against her former sous-chef Ed McFarland for ripping off not only her recipes and menu but even her decor.

I had already heard about the striking similarities between McFarland’s restaurant and POB via a discussion on Serious Eats, but this was the first I had heard of the suit. The piece by Ed Levine provides some background on copycats of all stripes and demonstrates that this clone of POB is only just the latest in a long line of imitators.

I encountered a more modest example of the temptation to trade on Pearl Oyster Bar’s fame when I happened upon a restaurant in Charleston called *cough* Pearlz Oyster Bar. Admittedly, “pearl” is an appropriate name for an oyster bar, and if we’re feeling charitable, that’s all there is to it, but I doubt it. (The Pearl in Pearl Oyster Bar is actually an homage to Rebecca Charles’ grandmother, nothing to do with the product of oysters.)

Pearlz Oyster Bar, Charleston

Pearlz Oyster Bar in Charleston. Wow, what an original name! They do make a decent lobster roll, I have to admit.

June 9, 2007

Connecticut Lobster-Roll Page Updated [nanoblog]

I finished updating the Connecticut lobster-roll page with reviews of places I visited on a road trip in May: Sea Swirl and Ten Clams in Mystic, Abbott’s in Noank, Johnny Ad’s in Old Saybrook, Hank’s Diary Bar in Plainfield, and a quality-control visit to an old favorite, the Cove Fish Market in Mystic. I added a few more places in New York City to the Lobster Roll Finder as well. Of local interest is the news from one of my spies who reports that Bridgewater’s Pub has already cut the lobster roll sliders from the menu. It’s a shame; I’m glad I had a chance to try them.

Comments

It's a minor thing, but Chick's in West Haven, Conn., is on Beach Street, not Captain Thomas Boulevard. Jimmies is on Captain Thomas which is almost an extension of Beach Street, but not quite. When you're in West Haven, also try Turk's (Captain Thomas) and Stowe's (corner of Beach and Washington Avenue, which is where Beach ends and Captain Thomas, after a half-block jog, begins).

Try the Lobster Rolls at Denmo's in Southbury CT and Frankies in Waterbury. You only are listing coastal places, but we inlanders have them too!

Corky, You are right, I do favor the coastline, but I pass near Southbury/Waterbury on my way to Maine, so I will definitely check them out. Thanks for the recommendations!

Without a doubt the best lobster roll (wait till you try the bread) of yeah and BBQ Ribs in the state is at The Lazy Lobster in Milford... You can eat on the pation or right on the he sand. Abbots may have a view but Lazy Lobster has the food.
http://www.thelazylobsterrestaurant.com

Smithy, Sounds awesome. I added them to my list. Thanks!

May 16, 2007

My Evening with Helvetica

I got to the polls first thing yesterday morning and was voter number 12; seemed like a decent turnout.

After work I zoomed into town (OK, SEPTA doesn’t zoom anywhere) for Helvetica, the movie at Drexel. I met up with Scott and stellargirl, and we got in the line which snaked around the perimeter of the atrium. Once we were seated, they kept trying to pack more and more people into the theater. If only they could have adjusted the kerning on the seats, they could have fit another 50 people easily—monospaced seating is such a drag.

If you enjoy watching smart, passionate, creative, talented people talking about what they love to do, you would love this movie. I like that sort of thing myself and enjoyed every minute of it. It was over all too soon, although the DVD promises to have lots of bonus material. The director, Gary Hustwit, answered questions from the audience (how cool is that?). Gary was just as engaging as the subjects of the movie. Clearly, he loves what he does, too.

At 30th Street Station, I noticed that Bridgewater’s Pub has added the lobster roll back to their menu, and since I had some time before my train, I indulged. Chef Michael Zulli is now serving lobster roll sliders, which are a vast improvement over the soupy lobster roll they used to offer. They are described as “poached lobster, celery, mayo on a trio of grilled buttered buns,” but there wasn’t a trace of mayo on this lobster, just pure, unadulterated crustacean. The butter from the grilled buns complemented the lobster perfectly for a taste of buttery goodness in every bite. Awesome.

Comments

"adjusted the kerning on the seats"-- tee hee. I'll see if I can view this movie sometime.

I may have to find some excuse to go to 30th St. Station....

February 1, 2007

Book: “New England’s Favorite Seafood Shacks”

As promised yesterday, a return to normalcy with a post about lobster rolls. With some snow headed our way here in the depths of winter, my mind has been spinning fanciful images of warm breezes and good food. Since those images won’t be fulfilled for many months, how about curling up with a good book in the meantime?

I knew of only two books with any kind of focus on lobster rolls: Lobster Rolls and Blueberry Pie: Three Generations of Recipes and Stories from Summers on the Coast of Maine by Rebecca Charles (who owns the Pearl Oyster Bar in Manhattan) and Deborah Di Clementi, and The Lobster Roll {and other pleasures of summer by the beach} by Andrea Terry and Jodi della Femina. (Andrea Terry is owner of The Lobster Roll restaurant in Amagansett.) Surprisingly, I don’t own either book, but yesterday I discovered a book that was published last year that I will have to buy: New England's Favorite Seafood Shacks: Eating Up the Coast from Connecticut to Maine by Elizabeth Bougerol.

I thought I had eaten at a lot of places over the years, but wow, this book is amazing. It’s not devoted exclusively to lobster rolls, but virtually every seafood shack serves them, and Ms. Bougerol claims to have eaten 156, so there’s lots of lobster love and plenty of new places to visit. Read more about the book and pay a visit to her Flickr gallery. It’s guaranteed to chase those winter blues away.

Comments

Oh! It's cheesy, to be sure, but I love the falling snow effect you put on your page at the moment. :)

Cheesy for sure! I was hoping to have it coincide with the actual snowfall, but it stopped snowing not long after I activated it and then I forgot about it. I'll probably leave it on until Saturday when the weather is supposed to clear up.

November 18, 2006

BLT Fish Lobster Roll

When I learned I would be working in Gramercy Park, I knew I would be within striking distance of some of the best lobster rolls in Manhattan. I consulted my handy-dandy lobster-roll finder and noted that Pearl Oyster Bar, widely considered to serve the best roll in town, was only about 12 blocks away. The only problem was that they don’t open until 6:00. Based on Pearl’s tiny size and anticipated long lines I didn't think I could get in and out in time to be at work by 7:00.

With these time and distance constraints, I really only had one choice: BLT Fish, one of four BLT (Bistro Laurent Tourondel) restaurants in Manhattan. Not only was BLT Fish only two blocks away, it also opened at 5:30. (City Crab was closer still, but they only serve a lobster roll at lunch.)

So I was all set to have my first lobster roll in New York! I wasn’t expecting this roll to be particularly authentic. After all, this is the Big Apple where simplicity just won’t cut it, but I was intrigued to find out how the classic lobster roll would be reinterpreted. I wasn’t too concerned; while the risk of fooling with perfection looms large, any sandwich based on lobster wouldn’t have to work very hard to be great.

The three of us arrived a little after 5:30 and were almost the first customers there. Laurent Tourondel’s cookbook is displayed prominently at the door. The downstairs dining room seats about 50 at banquettes along the walls and at tables with Windsor chairs, and there is a bar in back with room for 12. We all ordered the lobster roll, which came out really fast. In a New York minute, I believe.

The roll itself was far from a cottony top-split frankfurter bun, but instead was a wonderful brioche roll of similar shape. They claimed it was grilled and it probably was, but think toasted instead; the roll showed no traces of butter or grill marks, just crispness. The lobster meat was cooked properly and had just the right tenderness and texture. Unfortunately, the dressing was a failure. I don’t know exactly what comprised this dressing, but what I tasted was mayonnaise with rather a lot of lemon juice, so much so that it was easy to identify the source of the tart flavor. Between the large quantity of dressing and the strong tang, I really couldn't taste the lobster at all; claw, tail, whatever, it was all buried in the soup. On the other hand, I had no problem with the vestigial amount of finely-diced celery. Great fries and cole slaw, though.

If the flavors in the dressing were in better balance, it would have been better, although I think there was still way too much of it. Since I didn't expect this roll to be authentic or even great, it wasn't a huge disappointment, but it hurt a little bit spending $24 for this thing. Sorry there’s no picture; my wife was using the camera that day.

September 17, 2006

Lobster Roll Mashup

I have always been fascinated by maps and overcompensated for my lack of a sense of direction by buying a lot of them. I never thought I would be able to customize my own maps until Google Maps came along. I think it all started when I saw Andrea’s SEPTA Google map. I thought Wow I would like to do that, followed immediately by Wow, I don’t know how to do that. Besides I didn’t have anything I wanted to map.

When I started browsing Safari Books Online, I noticed an O’Reilly book called Google Map Hacks. That didn’t explain everything, but it was inspiring, and it introduced me to the Google Maps API. After reading the documentation, a terrific tutorial by Mike Williams, and browsing the Google group Google Maps API, I was on my way. I got lost in a few places (could have really used a map) , but finally found my way. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, at least to stick pins on a map.

So here we are. Introducing the Lobster Roll Finder (I had to map something I love, right?). I started with Maine and added about 10 points so far, but I’ll keep adding places as time goes on. If you don’t find that a compelling use of Google Maps (and I’m sure you won’t), pay a visit to Beer Mapping. Now that’s useful. Also check out Google Maps Mania, a blog devoted to Google Maps mashups. If even that bores you, there’s always Google Earth.

Comments

I have a funny and thoughtful Phillies blog that I think you'll enjoy. Come check it out at http://pabaseball.blogspot.com

Hope to see you there, and keep spreading the Philly love!

boo comment spamming. yay google api-ing! good stuff. now, i have to organize a road trip. sometime down the line, i'm gonna get up there to try me some lobster rolls.

Albert, Now you have directions. :-) While a New England road trip is a great idea, don't forget some of the best lobster rolls are found in Manhattan. It's a pity I've never had one there.

August 13, 2006

More Lobster Rolls Reviewed

I finally finished reviewing all the places we went to last year. Three in Massachusetts, Essex Seafood, Charlie's Place, and Kelly’s Roast Beef; and eight in Maine, Two Lights Lobster Shack, DeMillo’s, Susan’s Fish and Chips, Bayley’s Lobster Pound, Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster, Rapid Ray’s, Rose Cove Cafe, and Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier. That is all.

August 5, 2006

Lobster Rolls in the News [nanoblog]

Nice article in the New York Times about lobster rolls. “In a superheated summer, a search for the best lobster rolls is as good an excuse as any to take a road trip on the sea-cooled coast of Maine.” Amen to that. I learned of a few new places to check out in Maine, and the article mentioned some places that were already on my list. Of course, no article would be complete without including Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, “famed among road-food fanatics for its lobster roll.” It’s certainly the most-famous place and widely regarded as serving the best lobster roll. After several visits in the last ten years, I’m on record with a differing opinion of this place, although I’m headed back there to collect another sample. Via Albert via email.

April 6, 2006

Tony and Me

Who knew I had anything in common with Tony Soprano? I just learned that once out of his coma, he said to Carmella: “The lobster roll... Pearl Oyster Bar.” (via The Amateur Gourmet) It just goes to show how a near-death experience can help you get your priorities in order.

Which reminds me... It is Spring (despite that snow squall yesterday) and lobster roll season is nigh. Or near. Or just around the corner. Anyway, I am finally putting up the reviews from last year’s lobster-roll expedition. The first batch includes these five in southern Maine: Ogunquit Lobster Pound, Bob’s Clam Hut, York’s Best, Maine Diner, and Mabel’s Lobster Claw. Out of that batch, the Maine Diner emerged as the best. Most reviews feature full-frontal lobster-roll action in full color.

Speaking of buns, tonight we had hot dogs for dinner. We don’t always eat so “gourmette” (that’s French, you know), but we thought we’d kick things up a notch. What made them extra-special are the top-split rolls we brought back from Maine. We picked up three bags at a supermarket in Kittery and put them in the freezer. Sadly, they are almost gone. I'm looking forward to replenishing our supply sometime this summer.

Top-split rolls

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here in the south(knoxville, tn)we once had new england style top split buns. they have disappeared but as a substitute, i use two of the bar-b-q buns produced by the flowers foods bakeries and distributed by the merita bakery here. you can trim them down a bit if you feel there is to much bun. just buy packs that seem to have properly proportioned buns in them.

Larry, I'm closer to New England, and they are rare around here (Philadelphia). We also trim the regular kind so we can get flat sides we can grill. Works well enough. Any lobster rolls in Knoxville? The closest I know of is in Charlotte, NC.