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Sawyer’s Dairy Bar – Gilford, New Hampshire

Sawyer's Lobster Roll

The twirling Sawyer’s sign welcomed us from across the street.  This is an old-timey style dairy bar/seafood shack with lots of very clean indoor seating.  I think my issue may be, can a place be both a dairy bar and a seafood shack?  I’m not sure, but I did see here that combining the two has issues.  The Lake Winnipesaukee region, being inland, will probably never be able to pull of the seafood shack concept like they can on the coast.  I’m also noticing that inland New Hampshire takes great pride in making some of the most fantastic ice cream I’ve had.  Every place seems to make their own ice cream, lots of creative flavors, homemade sauces.  I really did gorge myself on ice cream, and I don’t regret it a bit.  But, I guess some people feel better stuffing their face with ice cream if they’ve had dinner first.  So, I would say that’s where the concept came from.  The main issue I saw with combining was the BYOB issue.  I’ve never actually been to a seafood shack that didn’t have a liquor license, that didn’t encourage you to BYOB.  I guess I’ve also never been to an ice cream stand that did encourage BYOB.  So, that was the dilemma, we packed some beverages, but couldn’t find on their website or in any reviews if this was an ok thing to do.  The waitress said that you could bring it in “as long as she doesn’t see it”.  Hmm, I’m not really into going rouge, and boozing on the sly feels problematic.  I think they should be clearer about a policy and if they are indeed a seafood shack that doesn’t allow booze, that would be a first for me.  The restaurant was nice, takeout with tables, but they also have servers going around and making sure everything is ok and promptly cleaning up and making sure the place looks nice.

You had your choice of butter or mayo, so we, of course ordered one of each.  The butter version is cold and naked with butter on the side (that sounds weird as I write it, but what can I say!).  The lobster meat is indeed frozen.  Ah well, I’ve come to accept it in the inland region.  My disappointment was overcome a bit when I saw the lobster rolls, giant chunks of claw, spongies trimmed and the flavor was really much better than most.  It was even better than some fresh lobster meat particularly when they ruin it with tons of gloppy toppings and shred it up.

This got me thinking about frozen lobster.  Frozen shrimp comes in different sizes and is different quality product.  Shrimp can’t be shipped fresh because the heads rot, so they chop the heads off and ship them frozen raw or cooked.  I’ve found the raw, cooked myself to always be tastier than pre cooked frozen.  So, I’m wondering, why can’t they do that with lobster?  Must it always be cooked meat, then frozen?  It also got me thinking about freezing techniques.  I did take a few food science classes in college, I knew they’d come in handy in real life.  Flash frozen is the best way to freeze anything and preserve the fresh flavor, it isn’t the same as slow freezing (just putting it in the freezer).  Keeps the molecules more intact.  But, it needs to be a pretty large operation to have a flash freezer.  I did some research online to see if I was right about sizes, grades, flash freezing.  I found nothing.  It looks like frozen lobster shipping places are usually pretty small operations and there is no mention I could find about flash freezing.  I’m thinking you could make a good business if some lobster wholesaler got a flash freezer and did uncooked claws and tails.  Seems like a tough job trying to find the best frozen lobster meat.  Seems easier to do fresh.  But, the price is obviously the difference.  Fresh picked lobster meat runs about $40/lb and frozen claw and knuckle runs about $25/lb, big difference.

Anyway, this was tasty, hearty lobster meat on a standard buttery grilled hot dog bun.  The life changing revelation I had here was that it’s much easier to dip the mayoed lobster roll into the butter than it is to dip the naked.  The naked meat just falls out, but the tiny amount of mayo holds it all together in the bun, without adding mayo flavor, then you can dip it right in the butter without a mess, perfection.  I think all places should serve butter on the side with their mayo lobster rolls.  In fact, I think that will be my new order.  The key is really minimal mayo.

The onion rings were good and we, of course, topped the whole thing off with Sawyer’s creamy delicious ice cream.  This was probably the best lobster roll I had in the Lake Winnipesaukee region, it even beat out the one fresh one I had because they killed it with extras and shredding.  I think the lesson here is don’t go to this region looking for lobster rolls, there are good ones to give you a decent fix, but it’s not a lobster roll destination.  Go for the ice cream!!  I would say you could easily build a trail around trying tons of fantastic ice cream spots in the area.

Weighed in at 7 oz. naked, 7.2 oz. with mayo

http://www.sawyersnh.com/

Visited August 2012

2 Responses »

  1. Wow, I had no idea!! And I thought CT liquor laws were restrictive. I guess it’s more like Live Sober or Die ;-) Thanks for the great info! And to think, just over the line in Maine you can buy booze in a CVS and take it to any picnic table.

  2. regarding the BYOB issue… I’m guessing you’re not from NH? The state is very strict about it’s alcohol laws — in general: no advertising, no coupons, no happy hours, no free drinks, etc. You could be arrested for BYOB in a public place (but no restaurant owner will tell you that.) Federal law applies to your frozen lobster meat — all lobster and crab meat packed for distribution in the USA must be cooked (period.)
    But I applaud your noble endeavor — good luck next season! And remember to bring a paper bag.

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