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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Linda Bean’s Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern – Freeport, Maine

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Linda Bean's Lobster Roll

In Delray Beach of all places, I had actually tried this lobster roll before, several times.  I remembered it as being very liberal with the spice additions, but good, particularly for South Florida.  So, needed to try it in the natural habitat right across the street from the L.L. Bean empire in Freeport.  We went to the restaurant, not the lobster roll stand across the street.  It’s actually a rather nice restaurant, not a shack, deck, patio, full menu and bar.  Enjoyed a nice glass of wine overlooking the mobs of outlet shoppers.

The lobster roll is good, but not a standout.  It actually had less spice than the one in Delray.  The spice was the right amount, very background, complementary, not the lead flavor as it is at their Delray location.  I also thought the meat tasted fresher, but I guess that’s a given since this one was in Maine.  The meat was large chunks of claw only, not too many spongies, but more than I care for.  On the website, she claims that her bread is different from other lobster rolls that use grocery store buns (which I have made very clear that I am against), she has them made specially for her with a blend of white and wheat flour.  I wish I could say I could tell the difference, but I couldn’t.  It tasted very similar to all the standard buns, maybe a smidge heartier.   Overall, this lobster roll was pretty average, good, but not memorable.  Although, I very much like the fact that she is taking good, real Maine lobster rolls to other parts of the country.  It’s nice to be able to get an authentic lobster roll in Florida, because I might go into withdrawal if I had to go an entire week without a lobster roll.

Weighed in at 6.2 oz.

Visited July 2012

Linda Bean's Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern on Urbanspoon

Derosier’s – Freeport, Maine

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A lobster roll that involves more tail than claw meat is really not something you encounter every day on the lobster trail.  So, when my sister-in-law, Carla, sent me this photo above of a lobster roll she had that looked to be entirely full pieces of tail, I had to have it, asap.  Lucky for me, I was going to be in Freeport the day after she sent me the pic.  I don’t normally get such immediate gratification, lucky me!

This spot is right on the main drag of outlet heaven.  When I found it, I had to double check that I had the right place because Derosier’s is also known as Freeport Pizza and as such is a pizza and sub place (with ice cream too BTW).  The blackboard out front let me know I was in the right place with the lobster pic telling me it was “fresh, never frozen” lobster rolls.  For 10 bucks no less!  If it indeed has as much tail as in the picture I saw, this is the lobster roll deal of the century.  It absolutely did not disappoint.

The lobster roll involved four uncut half tails arranged artfully on top about 10 whole knuckle hunks.  This truly may be a first, a lobster roll without claw meat, no danger of spongies.  Just tender, flavorful, cool, tail meat that bites of very cleanly because of the cooking perfection, the whole tail doesn’t come off in a bite like you might expect.  The knuckle underneath provides textural and flavor contrast with the tail.  I’ve never seen this combo, and I love it!  I’m no hater of the claw meat, I just feel it’s very over used in the lobster roll world and I really don’t like to see it alone on a lobster roll.  Lobster was meant to be eaten together, the tail, knuckle and claw, all with different textures and tastes.  The lobster roll has the same rules in my book.  No segregation based on what the food item is, give me it all!

The bread was an unheated roll.  The gal at the counter said it is what they use for the sub rolls.  I grew up in the greater Philly area, so this seemed pretty small to call itself a sub roll, but it was a bit larger than a hot dog bun.  The texture and flavor were closer to a bakery kaiser roll.  This was Carla’s complaint about it was that the bread was untoasted and a bit doughy.  The bread:meat ratio was still great, so they didn’t use too much bread for the meat by any means.  I happen to like an ungrilled bun and I like my bread on the doughy side, so I was actually into this combo.  But, about half way through, I saw her point.  Even if doughy is delish, it does fill you up much quicker.

The meat was served naked on a bit of lettuce with a smear of mayo on the bread.  And, in another interesting twist, the meat was topped with fresh cracked pepper.  Excellent addition.  The venue is a takeout type market with three tables for dining, very casual.  If you’re a big lover of the all-claw, this isn’t your place.  But, if you really love the whole lobster and appreciate fresh, tasty, uncut hunks of tail with some knuckle, you’re going to love this one.  I thought it was a fantastic lobster roll for anywhere and I respect and really enjoyed the unique take that they chose.  This lobster roll was well worth whatever they charged, fresh tail meat isn’t cheap.  But for $10, it was absolutely, without competition, the best deal on a lobster roll I have ever seen.

Weighed in at 7 oz.

Visited July 2012

Derosier's Market on Urbanspoon

Ed’s Lobster Bar – NYC, New York

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Lobster Roll at Ed's Lobster Bar NYC

What a lucky break I caught stopping by for my first try of Ed’s when I did.  Ed himself was there being interviewed right next to me at the bar by some magazine folk and I got to introduce myself and get in a few questions of my own.

First, I must say that I kind of love SoHo, so artsy chic, I feel cooler just breathing the air.  So many cute, unique shops, it’s like fancy, small town shopping, but like 20 times as many shops.  Ed’s is right there in the thick of it and has a minimalist, retro vibe going on.  Come right in to the marble top bar and the friendly,(but in an old timey, not overly familiar way) bartender gets you all set with wine and order.  This place is very my scene, I must confess I was loving it before the lobster roll arrived.  When I finally took a bite, I will say, I was actually blown away.  I expected to like this spot after I saw Ed’s commitment and respect for lobster on the food network.  But, this lobster roll honestly rivaled some of the best I’ve had.  It was tops for anywhere, but truly nobel prize good for what I expected from a NYC lobster roll.  No offense to those committed to serving a lobster roll in NYC, but, it’s not very close to the source, not on the ocean (at least where the great lobsters are caught), no one is a lobsterman, and NYC has a tendency to turn a good thing in to a fad, so I wasn’t expecting much.  Plus, none of the NYC lobster rolls at the Lobster Rumble even came close in perfection to the Clam Shack.  But Ed’s didn’t participate in the rumble this year, so…

The bread, Ed said, was a standard split top bun, but I suspect it wasn’t the wonderbread type.  It had a better shape and taste, which Ed said was due to the fact that it is grilled in a ton of butter.  He wasn’t kidding. I hate to take photos of half eaten food, because I think it’s gross, but I made an exception in this case so you could see just how deeply saturated with butter this roll was, without being a bit soggy.  I’ve really never had a bun grilled in this much butter and it was truly innovative.  It managed to combine the best of the hot (butter) lobster roll with the best of the lightly mayoed roll, without sacrificing anything.  The mayo, it was so amazing that I had to ask him what was in it, just perfect.  He said it was just mayo, lemon and celery.  Wait, what, celery!?!  On second look, sure enough, there were the most miniscule shavings of celery, not even large enough pieces to crunch.  Color me surprised, I’m loving a roll with celery involved!

I’ve saved the lobster meat description for last.  I saw Ed’s technique on the Food Network, or maybe Travel Channel (can’t remember) but, he actually cooks them upside down until they float.  Anyone who puts this much thought into how they cook the lobster for a lobster roll was one I simply must try.  It was everything I dreamed it could be, tender, flavorful large chunks of tail and claw, minimal spongies.  I even did something with this lobster roll that I only attempt with lobster rolls I suspect of greatness…I tried their spongie.  It wasn’t bad, didn’t make me gag or anything. I even bet if I didn’t look for and eradicate them before eating, I might never have known.

As an overall restaurant experience alone this place is worth planning a trip around.  The lobster roll rivals some of the best I’ve had and I’ve eaten somewhere in the neighborhood of over 100 lobster rolls.  It’s not quite as good as The Clam Shack, but, Maine lobster roll places, it pains me a bit to say it, but this city lobster may be as close as I’ve ever eaten to rivaling my gold standard.

Weighed in at 7.2 oz.

Visited July 2012

Ed's Lobster Bar on Urbanspoon

Luke’s Lobster – NYC, New York

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Lobster Roll at Luke's Lobster NYC

I remembered this lobster roll as being my favorite NYC lobster roll at the Lobster Roll Rumble, so I needed to try it in its natural habitat.  I hit the West Village location of Luke’s, the address confused my cabbie for a few blocks back and forth, but finally made it.  If lobster shacks could exist in the middle of NYC, this would be it.  This is not a fancy pants restaurant like many of the other lobster roll spots in NYC, there are no cloth napkins, no wine.  This is just a no frills replication of a Maine lobster shack, with the exception that, I’m guessing, a metal grate gets pulled down after closing.  I respect their pursuit of authenticity.

This was also the quickest and least expensive of the NYC lobster rolls.  Just like a shack with picnic tables, but not exactly.  I wonder if you can byob here, like you can at a shack.  This lobster roll managed to exceed what I remembered from the rumble.  The meat is the real standout here.  I still haven’t figured out the secret, but there are just a few spots I’ve ever tried that manage what I can come up with no other way to explain, but the “slippery” texture.  That sounds kind of gross, and really doesn’t describe it, but it is all I can come up with to describe the elusive, perfect lobster texture and it always goes with outstanding flavor.  The true test is in the spongies, if they taste delish, they’ve nailed it.  Luke’s nailed it.

I would have liked to see tail meat and a bakery bun, but a difference of philosophy, I guess.  The bread was the standard white bread, split bun, but really saturated with butter grilled, achieving the butter flavor without the sog.  I’m wondering in this is some NYC lobster roll technique because I saw it twice there and I don’t remember ever seeing this before.  It’s genius really.  The meat has just a bare glaze of mayo and something sprinkled on top, tarragon maybe?  I had my doubts about the green sprinkle, but it was good.  I’m glad I don’t live near this one, I might be tempted to grab one for lunch every day.

Weighed in at 6 oz.

Visited July 2012

Luke's Lobster on Urbanspoon

John Dory Oyster Bar – NYC, New York

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Lobster Roll at John Dory Oyster Bar NYC, New York

First, I must confess that I’m a sucker for dill. That’s a good thing for the John Dory Oyster Bar because they love it too. When I first got this roll, I thought I might have confused it with another from the Lobster Roll Rumble. I remembered it as hot with butter, but this was warm with a pink sauce and clearly visible cubes of celery (ugh). The bread was a fresh baked tasting brioche, top split bun, nicely grilled in butter. The lobster portion was a bit skimpy for the size of the bread, a common miss when you go for a great bread, it takes a lot of meat for the right ratio. When I moved the meat down so that it had my liking of meat:bread ratio in each bite, there was more than half the bread left over. On to the sauce, the nice manager actually went back to check with the chef to be sure for me, but the pink sauce was butter with lobster roe. Very interesting twist, with the dill, celery and I even found red onions, usually each an immediate turn off for me. I felt sure I shouldn’t like this lobster roll, but I found myself kind of enjoying it anyway. Meat was tender, fresh, with confirmed tail meat involved.
The venue is a pretty restaurant inside, but outside, where I chose to park myself for some good people watching on a lovely day, was pretty sparse. They actually had a jungle of plants near the entrance, but not a one on the sidewalk area. This seemed to make for some confusion among passers-by because it wasn’t too clear where the sidewalk ended and the eating area began.

Overall, this lobster roll is not for purists, or bargain seekers. But it was curiously tasty and unlike any other lobster roll. I think people watching is the NYC version of ocean view, and on this count they were great.

Weighed in at 7.1 oz.

Visited July 2012

John Dory Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon