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Category Archives: claw meat

Guilford Lobster Pound – Guilford, Connecticut

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lobster roll guilford

Perhaps my expectations for Guilford Lobster Pound were too high, or maybe I was just mad at it for not being open the four previous times I tried to visit, but it just wasn’t as good as I had hoped.  I should mention that you should call ahead and confirm with an actual person that they will still be open when you get there.  They are only open Wednesday-Sunday, 12-6, May-Memorial Day.  But, I have found out that those hours are a bit flexible, so is the May part.  Guilford Lobster Pound is a little shingled building at the back of the parking lot for another restaurant with a wide deck with picnic tables and a glorious view of the water.  Walk past the building to the deck where the lobster rolls, along with a minimalist menu including hot dogs, chowder and stuffed clams, are served.  The pound is owned by an actual lobsterman who catches his own lobsters from his boat that is docked right there and they also run boat tours from there.  As far as I’m aware, this is the only lobster pound in CT that is owned and run by a lobsterman and he sells his lobsters right there.  I did not gather that you can order a lobster steamed and eat it on the deck, but maybe you do that inside the building, not sure, it wasn’t on the menu.

I assumed, but still asked if the lobster meat for the roll was cooked and picked there, by them and his wife confirmed that it was.  The hot lobster roll was served to us at our table wrapped simply in foil.  My first impression was that it looked very red and full of spongies for a lobsterman fresh roll.  I have high expectations for a lobsterman’s roll, I guess I expect it too look like lazy man’s lobster, picked fresh out of the lobster, possibly cut up and served up on a bun.  The color always sets of a “red” flag for me (pun intended).  This is just a personal theory, but fresh meat usually looks white and pink, anything else usually has a very red color to it.  I sometimes wonder if part of that might be fresh meat sitting around in butter instead of being tossed to order might have something to do with it.  Bends in the spongies are another flag for me.  When you pick a lobster, have you ever seen the spongies be anything but straight and flexible?  So, when I see a fold set in the spongie, that makes me think it has been out of the shell and sitting in that position for quite some time.  The flavor of the meat was fine, a little dry in texture and the butter didn’t sog up the bun.  The bun was the best part in my opinion, it was perfectly buttery, crispy grilled and warm.  As you may have figured out, I’m not a fan of spongies and I pulled a full 6 large spongies from my roll, which left a whole lot less edible meat on the bun.  If this is fresh picked, what did they do with the tail meat?  That’s always why I’m suspicious of claw/knuckle only rolls.

The chowder was really the high point of the meal, it was one of the best Rhode Island (broth) style chowders I have had the pleasure of eating.  It was chock full of clams, briny, lots of herbs and red skin potatoes, good stuff.  I was very disappointed with the lobster roll, it wasn’t bad, it’s just that I expected better.  But, the view here is beyond stunning, the staff couldn’t be friendlier and they encourage you to byob.  I would love to come back on a sunny afternoon with a bottle of wine and watch the boats go by with a cup of that chowder, and maybe a hot dog.  I’m not really sure what a stuffed clam is, but perhaps I’ll find out.

Weighed in at 5.5 ounces
Guilford Lobster Pound website
Visited July 2013

Guilford Lobster Pound on Urbanspoon

Sea Swirl – Mystic, Connecticut

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lobster roll sea swirl

Sea Swirl is a popular ice cream stand on the way from Mystic Seaport into the center of the lovely little town center of Mystic.  They serve like 36 flavors of soft serve ice cream by some special mixing process that adds the flavor to the ice cream.  Very interesting, but as ice cream goes, I prefer the hard ice cream, which was quite good here.  Not as good as Drawbridge ice cream in town, but good.  This ice cream stand is clearly an ice cream stand first, however, they also serve, according to their sign, “fresh seafood”.

I was actually glad I went on a rather slow day because when I asked the cashier if the lobster meat had been previously frozen, she wasn’t sure, but the other girl said that it had not been frozen, and they cook the meat there.  Then, I think mainly because they weren’t busy, she was nice enough to offer to double check on that info with the kitchen.  As it turns out, the meat has been previously frozen.  I did hesitate a bit because $14 or $15 is kind of a lot to spend on a frozen lobster roll, but I decided that this was a popular lobster roll and I needed to try it and report back.

It actually was a pretty decent frozen meat lobster roll.  If she hadn’t double checked, I might have been convinced that this could be fresh meat.  The meat was tender and tasty, didn’t have any of the frozen giveaways like watery texture or chewy edges.  It had good flavor and minimal spongies.  They didn’t give you a whole lot, but a reasonable amount.  The cold claw and knuckle meat only, was tossed in a light amount of mayo and served on a barely grilled bun without butter that I could discern.  The grilling seemed to only serve the purpose of warming the bun a bit, could have benefited a lot from a good buttery crisp grill.  My biggest problem with this roll was the celery.  I have learned that celery can be tolerated on occasion, but, despite the fact that it didn’t look like a lot of celery, the flavor really dominated.

I can’t vouch for the freshness or tastiness of anything else on the menu, but I will stick to ice cream here.  The lobster roll was pretty good if you’re in need of a lobster roll, I can see why people like it.  I guess what annoys me about the use of frozen meat in a lobster roll is the non-disclosure.  Frozen meat lobster rolls can hit the spot and even be quite good, but the truth is that the price of frozen meat is 2/3 to half the price of fresh.  So, when I had just gotten a delicious fresh picked lobster roll up the road at Sea Well Seafood for $10 (particularly, probably far too low priced), it felt wrong to pay more for frozen and most people wouldn’t even know that was what they were paying for.  Frozen should either be cheaper or way more generous with the quantity of meat.  I realize that putting “frozen lobster roll” on the menu probably wouldn’t bring in too many customers, but at least have the price be a hint.  No menu says “canned tuna sandwich”, it’s just assumed that when it’s $6, you won’t be getting a grilled tuna steak on your sandwich.  I don’t know the solution, except to always ask, but even then, as evidenced by Sea Swirl, it still depends on who you ask.

Weighed in at 5.5 ounces

Visited July 2013

Sea Swirl website

Sea Swirl Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

H.B. Provisions – Kennebunk, Maine

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provisions lobster rollThis place is a real lifesaver if you ever find yourself staying the night in Kennebunkport and needing something besides restaurant food or nautical interior design accessories.  It is a little market with just the right amount of stuff and a full aisle of wine.  It wasn’t until recently when I liked them on Facebook that I discovered that they also do lots of food, home baked goods, full breakfast, sandwiches, etc.  I guess the fact that it is essentially across the street from Clam Shack has resulted in me never actually going in there hungry.  So, I found out that they do a lobster roll, which they serve until 9pm and you can eat it at the cozy seating area they have and watch the old men do jigsaw puzzles.  It’s like a shop out of a bygone era, you might expect the horse drawn ice truck to go by, I love it.

I confirmed that the lobster meat is fresh picked and local, no specific names were given there.  The lobster roll is served on a round bun, which is not a grocery store style, more of a bakery fresh roll, very tasty.  Maybe a kaiser, potatoish combo flavor.  They grill the inside to a perfect buttery crunch.  The meat is all claw meat, no tail, a bit of a skimpy amount in my opinion, but very tasty meat.  The problem is that they spread a ton of mayo on both sides of the bun, but I’m guessing that could be remedied by asking for mayo on the side.  The mayo actually does taste like it may be a homemade type, not sure, but it tasted very creamy and not jelloey like most jarred mayo is.  So, it was good mayo, if you’re into that sort of thing.  They also involve lettuce and a tomato slice in the sandwich, a mistake which I quickly remedied by removing.  Overall, this was a very good lobster roll that could use less mayo and more meat.  No, it doesn’t compare to Clam Shack across the street, but few places do.  It’s unfortunate proximity to the greatest lobster roll on earth shouldn’t be held against it.  I am still craving that buttery crunchy bun, maybe I can request double meat next time.

Weighed in at 6.3 oz. after lettuce and tomato removed.

Visited May 2013

Bite Into Maine – Cape Elizabeth, Maine

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lobster roll bite into maine

It’s not easy to find this cute, silver purveyor of tastiness if you’re not familiar with the area, but it’s well worth it.  It’s actually located in a park and my GPS got confused by that destination.  The gentleman at Bite into Maine couldn’t be nicer, on the phone he walked us through directions and when we got there, he was more than happy to talk about his fantastic lobster roll and what makes it great.  The lobster meat he uses is fresh picked, which is always key to a top tier lobster roll.  He pointed out that it’s a question that needs to be asked before ordering a lobster roll because so many in Maine these days, even ones you don’t think, use previously frozen lobster meat.

The choices here involve Maine style (mayo) and Connecticut style (butter) and four more , which I didn’t have the stomach space to try this time around.  Frankly, when they were ready, I really couldn’t tell which was which.  They are both served with the meat cold, which isn’t technically Connecticut style, it would need to be warm meat for that.  This inability to tell the difference was a good thing for the Maine style roll because the meat was tossed with just enough mayo to make it glossy, but not visible.  For the CT style, the butter was served on the side.  I have to say, I didn’t prefer this one.  Most likely because I was expecting it to be warm, but also because I prefer my butter tossed to poured on myself.  I like a cup of butter to dip my cold, mayo lobster rolls into.  When there is no mayo and you try to dip, the meat all falls out and doesn’t stay in the bun for a good butter bite.

Bun was your standard split top white bun, perfectly buttery grilled on both.  I had heard the hype about Bite Into Maine being one of the great lobster rolls in Maine and I must say, every bit of it is true.  The meat is perfectly cooked, tender, flavorful, chunks, generous amount, minimal spongies, and perfect meat:bread ratio.  It had everything I look for in a great lobster roll except tail meat (and a bakery fresh bun, but that’s so rare, I don’t take off points for not including it).  This was one of the rare times when a lobster roll is so good that I don’t even miss the tail meat, putting it in in my top tier of all lobster rolls.  Actually, the only other time I didn’t miss the tail meat was Sander’s Fish Market.  They use a bakery fresh bun, so technically, I have to give Sander’s the edge on this one, but Bite into Maine is well worth driving far out of your way for.

I really knew I loved this lobster roll on my victory lap of Columbus Day weekend in Maine.  What is a victory lap you may ask?  Well, I try lots of lobster rolls all season long, and honestly, many of them are crap, lots are decent, but not good enough for me to want to hit again.  Then there are the good and the great ones.  Victory lap weekend is where I figure out the difference between whether I thought it was good or great.  Some lobster rolls have all the elements of a very good lobster roll, but when I get to Maine, I’m not feeling the overwhelming need to be sure I eat that lobster roll before it disappears for the long winter.  It’s kind of like a last meal, but my last meal lasts for a four day weekend and involves as much lobster as I can fit in before I pop.  This one made my victory lap craving list.  FYI, here’s the victory lap list from 2012, in quasi order, I can never really decide: Clam Shack, Five Islands, Boothbay Lobster Wharf, Bite into Maine, Sanders Fish Market, Erica’s, Red’s, and Muscongus.  Also, picking up lobster meat at Atlantic Edge to make a few when I get home.  I can’t say this is an exhaustive list of lobster rolls I crave, it’s Mainely focused (pun intended, ha) and seasonal focused.  I also find myself craving Woodman’s, JT Farnham’s, Captain Scott’s, Roy Moore’s, Eastwind, High Tide Gourmet, Champlin’s and Ford’s.

But, I digress, back to Bite into Mane.  The other thing that sets this cute little not quite truck, not quite trailer apart, is the view.  I would eat this lobster roll anywhere, but it happens to be in a lovely park overlooking the ocean with a lighthouse.  If you can handle not eating your lobster roll right away, which is tough, you could walk across the street and find a picnic table with one of the best views in Maine while eating one of the great lobster rolls of Maine.

Weighed in at 7 oz.

Bite Into Maine webpage

Visited August 2012

Bite Into Maine Food Truck on Urbanspoon

Hancock Gourmet Lobster from Gilt Taste online mail order

hancock lobster roll

I happen to be a huge fan of the Hancock Gourmet lobster roll served at the Big E Maine building.  This lobster roll is only available at the Big E and by mail order.  There is no store you can drive to an buy this lobster roll, even in the summer.  So, imagine my thrill when I saw that a lobster roll kit from Hancock was available through Gilt Taste for a mere $60, including shipping.  I know, that’s still pretty steep, but it’s usually closer to $85.  They claim that the kit makes 6 lobster rolls, and includes 6 buns, and 1 pound of mixed lobster salad.  It really depends on how hearty you prefer your lobster rolls.  I made 4 lobster rolls out of the one pound package, but you could get away with making 6 smaller rolls, I just happen to prefer a hearty meat:bread ratio.  I placed my order and my package arrived at my door the next day, how very exciting!  Fresh Maine lobster rolls and I never even left my house.

The lobster arrives in a styrofoam cooler, packed nicely with cold packs packs.  The meat is pre-mixed with the mayo and as they say on the package “spices”.  Immediately, I embarked on lobster roll assembly.  I brushed the outside of the bun with melted butter, grilled it to golden perfection.  I also brushed the inside with melted butter, because can you really ever have enough butter?  I piled in the lobster meat and dug in.  I was fully expecting this to be an exact replica of the Big E lobster roll, except of course, better, because of all the butter and grilling I involved.  To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t quite as good as the Big E version.  The spongie pieces had the yuck spongie texture and had to be removed, unlike the Big E version where they have the slippery texture and incorporate seamlessly into a the lobster bites.  I know, slippery is a terrible description of something delicious, but it’s the only way I can think to distinguish it from the other texture.  Through online chat with Hancock, I confirmed that this claw and knuckle meat is fresh picked and has never been previously frozen.  The lobster meat was still very good, briny, tasty, not too much mayo and I have to guess that by spices, they mean nothing more than salt and pepper because I didn’t taste anything else.  That is a good thing.

The bread was the standard split top bun, allegedly only sold in New England and superior to other buns.  I did a side by side bun comparison with Wonder buns, but that’s for another post to come.  When coated in butter and grilled up, it was a great complement to the cool lobster meat.  Overall, this was a very tasty lobster roll, delivered right to my door and a perfect fix if you happen to be in the large part of the world where fresh picked Maine lobster isn’t available year round.  I happen to be lucky enough to live near City Fish, where I can get fresh picked lobster meat for $40/lb year round, so I won’t likely be ordering this mail order lobster roll very often.  By comparison, the price of the Hancock kit may seem high, but when you think about how much you pay for one lobster roll in the summer, which often isn’t nearly as good and Maine fresh as this one, for 6 lobster rolls, this really is a very good deal.  So, if all my pictures of lobster rolls are making you crave one and you think you have to wait until a summer New England vacation, think again.  Order this up and you could be eating a fresh, tasty lobster roll, wherever you are, tomorrow!

Ordered and eaten in February 2012