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Petey’s – Rye, New Hampshire

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peteys lobster roll

This is a beautiful location right on the New Hampshire ocean, but if you want to see the view, you need to hit this one in summer because that’s when the upstairs deck is open.  There is a nice view of the marsh behind from the inside of the restaurant, but no ocean view.  To be honest, if you’re looking for a view and the comforts of indoor dining with waitress service, I would head up the road to Ray’s where you can have probably the best view possible year round while eating lobster.  But, if it’s lobster rolls that are on your mind, each of these spots offer very different versions.

I’ve been to Petey’s several times and quite liked it.  It is a major hot spot, year round.  Even on a Sunday afternoon in February people were parked far down the road.  My very favorite item here is the “lobster on a stick”.  I absolutely love it, probably more than quite a few lobster rolls.  I like it better than their lobster roll, but that doesn’t mean the lobster roll here isn’t great, it’s just that having an entire fresh lobster tail, on a stick, warm, dipped in butter may be one of the most genius creations ever.  Sadly, when I went this last time they were out of them, I nearly cried.  But, have no fear, I drowned my sorrows in lobster rolls, well, and also beer.

I had the version of the lobster roll that Petey’s offers at the Hampton Beach Seafood Fest and it is quite different than what they offer at the restaurant.  I think I like the Fest version better, it was actually one of my favorites there.  They offer a regular size and a jumbo size lobster roll at the restaurant.  I, of course, ordered both and when she delivered them, I actually had to ask which was which.  They really looked exactly the same, an illusion of the round bun perhaps.  The weights were indeed quite different, and the bread, despite identical appearance was different.  The regular sized bun had more of an airy brioche texture and less flavor and the jumbo was a heartier bread, more potato like dense texture and quite flavorful.  The both tasted bakery fresh or at least innovative, which I strongly admire.  I much preferred the jumbo bun as a complement to the lobster and hey, it comes with more lobster, so it’s an easy decision in the future.  The lobster meat is fresh caught and picked here and it tastes great.  They give a generous amount, but not as generous as the weight, including mayo and a hearty bun, might suggest.  However, I feel like they use a smidge too much mayo.  To look at the pictures, you might say way too much, but no.  It tastes like nearly the right combo, just a tiny bit over on the mayo.  One reason may be that they cut the meat into rather small chunks, which provides more surface area for mayo to stick to.  This is probably because I have found that when using a round bun, large chunks are not the right answer, they fall right out.  Either go uncut, ala Clam Shack, or cut small for a round bun.  There is also shredded lettuce involved.  You can’t pick off shredded lettuce, it just gets into every bite.  Ken quite liked it’s inclusion, but I would request without in the future.  Overall, this is a very good lobster roll with a fabulous view, particularly in the summer.  But, for me, the main attraction remains the “lobster on a stick”, the greatest seafood innovation since the lobster roll.

Regular weighed in at 8.8 oz.

Jumbo weighed in at 12.9 oz.

Visited May 2013

Petey’s website

Petey's Summertime Seafood on Urbanspoon

Port Lobster – Kennebunkport, Maine

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port lobster roll
For as many times as I’ve visited Kennebunkport, I’m really not sure why I didn’t even know that this unassuming little shop sold lobster rolls.  Port Lobster is a little brick building just outside of town by the Colony hotel.  Which, by the way is a great place to stay, particularly if you are looking for a dog friendly venue, and it’s one of the best places to have a beverage overlooking the ocean.  Port Lobster is a great fish shop for getting some fresh lobster that they will steam for you so you can go enjoy them someplace pretty.  I spotted the sign for the $9.99 lobster roll and needed to give it a try.  This may sound terrible, but I always expect a $10 lobster roll to be previously frozen meat.  I mean, lobster meat, fresh picked isn’t cheap so I usually assume that you can either have a fresh picked lobster roll or an inexpensive lobster roll.  Happily, such is not the case at Port Lobster.  They use fresh picked, by them, lobster meat, fresh picked that morning according to the gal at the counter.In addition to selling fresh lobster by the pound, they also sold frozen lobster by the pound, the price difference being $40 for fresh vs. $26 for frozen.  This is the reason that, without exception, I consider it a rip off when a lobster roll made with previously frozen meat is being sold for the same price or higher than fresh.  Even if it tastes not bad, they should still be charging less.  I asked the gal here at Port Lobster if the frozen meat would be acceptable to use when making a lobster roll.  She said absolutely not, the frozen meat is best used in cooked dishes, but when you are eating the meat straight, as in a lobster roll, it just isn’t very good if it’s frozen.  I couldn’t agree more.

So, the lobster roll at Port Lobster was quite a surprising delight.  Surprising because of the price and the fact that I had missed it all this time.  The meat is tasty, briny and most certainly fresh.  It is served in nicely sized chunks of both tail and claw/knuckle cold meat lightly tossed to order in minimal mayo.  But, since they mix to order, I’m sure you could request your desired amount of mayo.  The bun is the standard split top and can be toasted, but I went with un-toasted.  The size of the lobster roll is perfect, not too big, but perfect bread:meat ratio.  I didn’t have to move any meat down the bun to get an ideal bite.  I really quite enjoyed this lobster roll and at that price, I very well may need to order several next time!

Weighed in at 5.6 oz.

Port Lobster website

Visited May 2013

David Venable Lobster Roll Recipe

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qvc lobster roll

Before I became Lobster Gal, I grew up in the land of cheesesteaks and crab cakes that is Northern Delaware.  While I was visiting my family this weekend and chatting with some of my pals from QVC, headquartered in nearby West Chester, PA, I found out that my friend David Venable, of In the Kitchen with David, was making his version of the greatest food known to man -lobster rolls!!  So, I simply had to try out his version.

My first impressions of the recipe were that he solidly had the essentials down on this one -fresh picked lobster meat including all parts of the lobster, not just claw and knuckle.  Each part of the lobster just has such a unique texture and flavor that any lobster roll wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t involve it all.  And fresh-picked; I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it a thousand times more, if lobster meat has been previously-frozen it has no business being in a lobster roll.  Frozen can be fine for cooked dishes, but the lobster roll, where the meat is on full display in all its glory, can be nothing but perfectly briny and fresh.  He also involved a split-top hot dog bun, the standard in lobster rolls.  I liked that he didn’t suggest a specific brand, which if I may suggest -never use any mass-produced supermarket bun.  This is fresh picked lobster meat, and it deserves a bakery-fresh bun.  Fortunately, most bakery-fresh hot dog buns are not split at all, so you can just split them down the top yourself and buttery grill up those sides.

When reading the recipe, the controversial parts for me were first, the inclusion of celery.  I have only ever had one lobster roll where I was on board with the inclusion of celery, Ed’s Lobster Bar, and that was because he minced it into tiny pieces so that it just melted into the lobster meat.  David says “minced” in the recipe, so that’s just what I did.  The other flair in the recipe was a dash of hot sauce and a pinch of cayenne pepper.  Woah, spicy stuff in a lobster roll -crazy!!  I’ve never seen it done, and I must admit I was skeptical.  I’m not usually good at following recipes; I just throw things in a bowl and stir them around until I think it tastes right.  The down side of that, of course is that I can never recreate it.  So, I was going to follow this recipe by the book.

I started at my favorite fish shop nearby, City Fish in Wethersfield, CT, sells fresh picked lobster meat, and it is well worth every penny.  The price per pound may at first seem high, but I’ve done the math on this, and it takes 5, 1.25 pound lobsters to get 1 pound of picked lobster meat.  If you’re lucky enough to have a shop near you that sells fresh picked lobster meat, support it whenever you can so they keep doing the hard work.  I picked up my buns from the bakery at The Fresh Market, a specialty foods chain nearby.  I’ve tried them before and they are the perfect complement to lobster.

After I crafted this lobster roll and took my first bite, I knew that it was an absolutely amazing lobster roll.  It was even far better than what I usually make myself, which is really saying something, since I’ve been at this for quite some time.  Now, I may have been skeptical about a few things in this recipe, but David has fully made me a convert to the idea that a lobster roll can be oh-so-right with unexpected ingredients! 

The celery, which I minced finely, was just the right amount and added a fresh tasting flavor that seamlessly integrated into the lobster without crunch.  The tiny green flecks actually looked kind of pretty too. Also the mayo and lemon were perfect amounts. But for me, the spicy additions were what really put this recipe over the top.  You couldn’t specifically taste them, but the dash of hot sauce and cayenne pepper really woke up the lobster flavor and made it more pronounced.  I’m still reeling from the shock that hot sauce and cayenne pepper can not only have a place in a lobster roll, but genuinely enhance and amplify what is already the perfect food.   The power of a secret ingredient!

I rarely say this, but I wouldn’t change a thing about this recipe.  The combo of the fresh lobster, buttery grilled bun, lemon, mayo, celery and those “secret ingredients” made this, without a doubt, a top tier lobster roll and most certainly one I will make again.  Thanks, David!

Dave Venable Lobster Roll Recipe post

Recipe:

1 lb cooked lobster meat (from two 2-3 lb whole lobsters), cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/4 cup celery, minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1-1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Dash of hot sauce
Pinch of cayenne
2 Tbsp butter
4 split-top hot dog rolls

Directions:

Place the lobster meat, celery, mayonnaise, lemon juice, pepper, salt, hot sauce, and cayenne in a bowl and mix until well combined. Refrigerate until the buns are toasted.

To toast the buns, preheat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Lightly spread the butter over both sides of each bun. Cook until golden brown, about 2–3 minutes. Turn the buns over and toast the other side. When the buns  are ready, stuff each with about 3/4 cup of the lobster mixture.

Cape Neddick Lobster Pound – Cape Neddick, Maine

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neddick lobster roll

I find it so much more disappointing when a gorgeous view is accompanied by a mediocre lobster roll.  I guess I just think that all great views should be accompanied by outstanding food.  To do otherwise feels like a crime against humanity, or amazing views, or something.  I’m exceedingly sorry to say that Cape Neddick fell into this category.  Again, I feel really strangely bad reporting that it was not a lobster roll I will find myself craving.  When I have a lousy lobster roll at any other place, it doesn’t pain me to say I didn’t particularly like it, but with this view, ugh.

I was actually just going to do a quick takeout order and be on my way since this is a sit down restaurant and I really just want to try the lobster roll, not fool them into thinking I plan to engage in a whole dinner experience.  But, once I walked in and saw the expansive view through the wrap around, two story windows, looking out on the lovely river all around, I just had to stay.  They also have a full bar, being a full service restaurant and all, so that certainly didn’t hurt either.  We were seated at a cute table right by the window.  The tables here are all spread out enough that you don’t feel like other people’s conversations are invading your personal space, very pleasant.  Our waitress was great, super helpful, answered all my questions while staying very friendly.  She said that their lobster roll was amazing, huge and that the lobster meat for it was picked right there, right before the shift.  I was so excited I could barely contain myself, always a setup for a letdown.

The lobster roll arrived and well, it was indeed large, more of a foot long hot dog roll, not split top, but that’s fine by me.  However, it looked more like a crab roll.  That is to say, completely white, slathered in mayo and shredded.  Trying very hard not to judge a lobster roll by it’s cover, I have had some very tasty, ugly ones (Markey’s), I took a bite.  Sadly, it was exactly how it looked, tons of mayo, so much that I honestly can’t tell you how the tastiness of the meat was.  It was fully disguised in mayo and the chunks were so small, that wiping off the mayo for a taste was a futile effort.  There was also a piece of lettuce and chives or parsley mixed in.  I did confirm a piece of tail meat involved, so I believe her that it was fresh picked.  But, this just proves, that restaurants can manage to kill even the best setup.  The view, the very fresh picked meat, it still disappoints me just to talk about it.  I imagine the meat was probably excellent because I did still manage to eat a decent amount of it and it didn’t taste bad, just really, really mayoey.  I left feeling somewhat ill because that much mayo sits in my stomach like a rock.  Thank goodness they serve sav blanc, which did offset it somewhat.

All was not lost.  Ken’s swordfish tips were fantastic and very fresh.  The were also served with fiddlehead ferns.  If you’re not familiar with them, they are the greatest vegetable known to man and are only available in New England for about two weeks out of the year.  They’re a bit of a cross in flavor between asparagus and broccoli and look like a cute little swirly disk.  It really kills me that this lobster roll was what it was because everything else was so good, the view, the service, the fish, the fiddlehead ferns, even the onion rings.  This place is absolutely worth visiting, but not for the lobster roll, maybe I’ll order a lobster dinner next time and be disappointed that fiddlehead ferns are out of season ;-)

Weighed in at 9.8 oz.
http://www.capeneddick.com/
Visited May 2013

Cape Neddick Lobster Pound 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.

http://www.hbprovisions.com/

Visited May 2013