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Category Archives: tail and claw meat

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

Ruth and Wimpy’s – Hancock, Maine

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lobster roll ruth wimpy

I never actually imagined I would be trying this place so soon.  I mean, it’s north of Bar Harbor, which is of course kind of no man’s land.  It was on my list as it had been in the lobster shack book I love to reference and for some reason I think it was on some food show.  So, imagine my surprise as we headed up Rt 1 on Easter Sunday to see it right there, not far from Elsworth and shock of all shocks, open on Easter Sunday, until 8pm!  Since my stomach was in no mood for lunch at the time, I just stopped in to confirm that they had a lobster roll and that it was fresh picked by them, never frozen.  Sure enough, in fact the waitress I asked actually gave me a bit of a friendly eye roll, like, of course it’s fresh picked, why would it be anything else, that’s ridiculous?  I agree.  So, we stopped back by for dinner, and by dinner after poking around the coast and the “other” Acadia.  Worth seeing, by the way, if you have not.

The evening shift didn’t seem quite as on the ball as the lunch shift.  After standing there for a few minutes, a waitress told me to have a seat anywhere.  I did, then a lady sitting at another table informed me that the table I had chosen was reserved.  Once settled in at an approved table with menus, it took a rather significant amount of time before I was able to place an order, longer for water, the food came fairly soon after placing the order, but the check was another wait.  I don’t like to color my judgement of the lobster roll at a location because of the service, but this gal really made it challenging.  On the other hand, the owner (I assume she was the owner) was an exceedingly friendly woman, who was having a great time making the rounds to the tables and being the Easter bunny.  You could pick out an egg from her basket and you won candy or other menu items, every egg was a winner.  I saw a guy win a shrimp cocktail app.  It really was fun and a nice touch, she even noticed when Ken came in and joined me, some time after I had sat down.  I did win a lovely bag full of Easter candy and received it, well before I got water or saw my waitress, so that happened.

Ruth and Wimpy’s really is quite a unique place.  Kind of like a museum of Americana/diner/lobstering establishment.  I quite liked it.  Outside, there is a guy with steaming pots in brick ovens where you can walk up on a boat and watch him work.  I’m not entirely sure what he was doing that day since it seemed to be mostly locals and I didn’t actually see any whole lobsters come out.  There is a classic car parked across the front and apparently there is usually a huge lobster statue, but I guess he hadn’t made it out this early in the season.  The inside is quite cute, pine walls, diner booths, toy car collection covering one wall (if you collect them, I assume you don’t call them toys, but I don’t know what to call them).  License plates covering the other walls, quite kitschy in a fun way.

I ordered the regular and the jumbo lobster rolls.  The regular was good size, standard buttery bun, could have been better grilled, fresh picked tail, claw, knuckle lightly coated in mayo.  It was decent, but I felt like Tracey’s, farther up Rt 1 was way better.  But, to be perfectly honest, it could have been my mood from sitting at a table for 45+ minutes before food arrived.  The jumbo was really something to behold.  It really was a bun the size of a large hoagie, filled with lobster and shredded iceberg.  It was also good, but pulling of a good meat:bread:lettuce ratio would be impossible without putting in so much meat that you would have to charge $50+.  It was more of a sub experience than a lobster roll, but still good and worth trying.  The weight really, is mostly the dense bread.  I, of course, pushed the meat down the bun until I had the meat:bread ratio the way I like it, but Ken thought it was quite good as is, and liked that it was more filling.  Ruth and Wimpy’s is certainly worth a try, and is obviously very popular with the locals, which is always a good thing.  Maybe I’ll try it again, but judging by how crowded they were on Easter Sunday, this place must be a mad house in the summer.  On the other hand, maybe they have a take out window then, which could only be a good thing.

Regular weighed in at 4.8 oz., jumbo weighed in at 13.9 oz.

Ruth and Wimpy’s website

Visited March 2013

Ruth & Wimpy's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Eventide Oyster Co. – Portland, Maine

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Eventide’s lobster rolls are in my book, Lobster Rolls of New England!!

lobster coveredited