I’m getting super excited for the Lobster Roll Rumble tomorrow night. Imagine, getting to try out 20 lobster rolls in one night. 5ish is about the most I’ve ever done in one day, but, of course, that was going to actual venues and trying to eat a decent amount. I just hope my stomach can find the room to try all 20. I’m thinking it may be best for me to, sadly, avoid drinking the Stella beer since that takes up way too much valuable stomach space. Strategy is everything when truly trying to engage in gluttony. As part of my strategizing, I’ve been checking out the photos and descriptions online and trying to strategize. I mean, if my stomach really gives out, I don’t want it to miss out on the most promising contenders. Of all 20, I’ve only actually had one of them, my gold standard, the lobster roll of lobster rolls, The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport. This is the obvious winner of the rumble in my opinion. I’ve tried maybe 100 lobster rolls and have yet to taste one that threatens The Clam Shack as my all time favorite. I suppose there’s always a possibility, so, judging from the photos/descriptions, here are my “pre” thoughts.
In fairness, I can’t really consider the Lobster Roll Rumble sampling of the lobster roll a true assessment of the establishment. Lots of times at these events, they modify some aspects to fit the event, sometimes using different, smaller bread or maybe something else to allow tons of people to sample the lobster roll in 3 hours. For those who haven’t been to a Share our Strength type event, they are in lots of cities, this one is just focused on lobster rolls. They get many restaurants in a space and you just travel around, sampling a mini portion of each restaurant. Really, I wish I could eat this way every day, just a bite of this, bite of that, mini drink of margarita, etc. I love it, an entire meal consisting of 30ish items, ideal really.
Some initial thoughts from checking out the contenders. NYC lobster roll places really seem to love their tarragon. Most also seem to like to get pretty creative with their spice usage on the lobster roll. Definitely not typical among lobster rolls. I’m particularly worried about the ones that list using Old Bay. I’m from Delaware, so I love myself some old bay, but seems out of place. Old Bay is for crab and fries, seems not quite right with lobster. Kind of like using carolina bbq sauce on lobster, come to think of it, that may not be bad, but not representative of the New England lobster roll. Some things I’m liking are the lemon aiolis and homemade mayos, kind of the same thing, but I like to see homemade, high quality takes on the traditional.
First ones I need to try:
Freddie’s – Fresh shucked meat, always good. I see some tail in the pic. Looks pretty simple, I like the inclusion of lemon juice and zest.
Red Hook – Easily the winner of the “which photo looks most like I want to eat it right now”, great lobster food porn. Seems simple, great, not sure what “lightly seasoned” means, but I’m very hopeful about this one.
Luke’s – Despite the prominent spongie in the pic, it looks simple and delish. I’m doubtful about the “secret spices”, but I know this is a popular and fresh one.
Lots O Lobster- “Coveted tail” included, ah yes, that’s the ticket. Looks good, “special seasonings”, we’ll see.
Island Creek Oyster – Yum, looks overflowing with chunks of tail. Not sure what’s going on with the bread, looks like someone took a bite out of it or doesn’t know how to cut bread, can’t tell, but doesn’t look right. Most worrisome, “surprise appearance of diced pickles”. No one likes to be surprised by pickles.
Thames Oyster House – Hot version, always a favorite of mine.
The Clam Shack – Obviously the best.
Second tier of stomach space:
Mermaid Inn – Hard to tell, looks hearty, Old Bay scared me, but the brioche looks good and I am strangely partial to the round bun.
Waterbar – Simple, I like the cup of butter in the photo. But, California, it can never be a true contender, sorry.
Mary’s Fish Camp – This is another popular one, as I’ve heard, it looks like way too much mayo, but I like that they don’t get crazy with the creativity and I want to know what brunoised celery is.
Lobster Joint – Wow this one does look good, but the liberal use of multiple spices and vegetables scares me. Sea salt seems like an excellent addition. Clearly says claw and knuckle, so no tail, bad.
B&G Oyster – Was on my list to try in Boston, looks good and simple. Looks like the bread ratio may be high and diced celery, yuck.
BLT Fish – The tasty looking “buttery brioche” gets this one on the second tier. Capers, tarragon, eh.
JCT – Looks tasty and simple, but Atlanta. I wouldn’t expect a New England place that went to Georgia to show off their pulled pork to fare very well either.
Little Neck – This is an extreme close up photo, can’t tell anything, but the description looks good.
Ditch Plains – This looks really good, but curious. Grill marks on the inside of a potato roll, garlic aioli, Old Bay, celery, green onion, tarragon. That’s a lot going on, we’ll have to see.
Hungry Cat – Looks pretty good and not crazy, but it looks like the lobster is sitting on top of the bread, how does that work? And what’s with the sautéed spinach looking stuff on top?
John Dory Oyster Bar – Lobster roe butter, bakery fresh bread I like where they’re going with that, but then they go pretty crazy with additions, red onion, dill, white wine vinegar, getting pretty nuts. Have to try it, does look good.
If I still have room:
Smack Shack – Maybe it’s the lots of visible spongies or the bread that looks like it’s going to cut the roof of my mouth or maybe it’s just because it’s from Minnesota, this one does not look like it does it for me.
Lure – Doesn’t look good at all to me, could be wrong. Looks way too chopped up and swimming in mayo. And bacon, I love bacon, but with lobster, I don’t know. Sliced tomatoes, no.
So, that’s the lineup, we’ll see how my predictions pan out. Wish me luck on fitting them all in without popping. I kind of wish there were more than 3 from New England, but really, no I don’t. I can go to New England on my own and NYC is really trending on the lobster roll scene. I haven’t tried any of them yet, so I’m hopeful that they have their own vibe and tastyness. From the ones I’ve read about or seen on tv shows, they seem to always use Maine lobster and there’s a good amount of pride in doing things right. As with anything in NYC I guess, a few seem to get a little too creative. I love some creativity, just not too crazy, but who knows, they may prove me wrong on that one. Either way, I’m so excited for this event I can barely stand it. 20 lobster rolls, one night, it’s like a Lobster Gal dream. Now I just need to decide what to wear. It says summer cocktail cocktail attire, I’m thinking Lilly or maybe my new lobster skirt.