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Category Archives: Booze sold

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

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

Bill’s Seafood – Westbrook, Connecticut

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Kind of a fun vibe going on here and by fun, I mean rough around the edges in a way where weekend bikers and prissy college girls can all go mingle, drink and feel tougher than they are.  It has a nice, large deck that’s very crowded with happy patrons on a warm summer day.  It overlooks some type of water, not very pretty though.  My friend Jill, who joined me that day, pointed out that I shouldn’t miss the “singing bridge” view, apparently a big draw here.  Frankly, I don’t get it, it’s not pretty and I didn’t hear any singing, just cars.

After setting up camp at a prime table on the deck, we ordered up some vino (yes, they have a full bar) and I asked about the lobster rolls.  Yes, the meat is fresh picked and cooked there, according to the waitress.  I was actually only going to order the cold version, but since she said it was fresh picked we ordered up a hot and cold lobster roll.  Kind of unusual, and a good thing, to have a choice.  Most places are committed to one version.

Upon arrival, they looked to be good sized rolls, slightly longer bun than usual, but the meat just looked, well, sloppy.  It just didn’t look as appealing as you would like it to.  It was kind of a mess, shreds, chunks, poorly distributed mayo, all just shoved into a bun in an uneven manner.  They just didn’t look that good, probably partly because we had just eaten the beautiful, lobster roll perfection served by High Tide Gourmet maybe two hours before.  The lobster rolls both weighed in at about a hearty 8.5 oz, generous amount.  Trying not to judge a book by it’s cover, I tried out both.  The cold was pretty good.  I could do without the lettuce and tiny bits of celery, but it had good flavor, not too much mayo, buttery split top bun.  Really, pretty good, but not so good I’d come back soon for it.  The hot was worse.  There was a lot of butter and that certainly never hurts a situation.  The problem was the meat.  As Jill put it, it tastes like how lobster ravioli tastes when it’s been sitting around hot for too long.  There was tail and claw in both, and if the waitress was correct about the fresh picked status, which I do feel like I’m questioning, this should have been great.  Booze sold, waterfront, fresh picked, choice of hot and cold.  Bill’s had all the elements, but somehow missed on bringing them together.

Then there’s the check.  I get lobster stands not taking credit cards, I don’t like it, but fine.  By the way, most these days do take credit cards, I mean you can get a credit card swiper on your phone now.  This place is a full service, year round restaurant that serves booze and they don’t take credit card.  With checks that size, to only take cash is a problem.  They point out that they have an ATM in the front, great.  I’ve heard all the arguments why places don’t take credit cards, mainly because the card companies charge a % of the transaction, but I would think that works out in your favor when you figure how much less people spend when they know they can’t outspend the amount of cash in their wallet.  All cash business also depend on a great deal of honesty at all levels of the business.  While at the front for the ATM, I stopped in the restroom and had to hold my breath the whole time because it reeked of urine.  This is the ladies room, on a Monday afternoon.  I can’t imagine how the mens room smells after a Saturday night.  Never a good sign at a food service establishment.

On the up side, the onion rings were quite good.  Also, they do have an ice cream stand outside that serves Gifford’s ice cream and the staff was all very pleasant and fun.  I’ll be back to Bill’s for an ice cream, but doubt I’ll return for the lobster roll.

Weighed in at 8.5 oz. for cold and 8.2 oz. for hot

Bill’s Seafood website

Visited July 2012

Bills Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The Lobster Dock – Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Lobster Dock lobster roll

I was determined to hit this spot since it seems to be the most popular place in town to get a lobster roll.  As I’ve said, I’m very partial to their neighbor about a quarter of a mile up the road, Boothbay Lobster Wharf.  So, I needed to schedule in some time and stomach space to see why so many people feel this one is the preferred lobster roll in Boothbay.  Before even going in, I can see that location is likely one of the major draws for this spot.  It is just a few steps from the footbridge that leads across the harbor from the main part of town and if you’re looking for a lobster shack experience, this looks like the spot.  It is a very cheery welcoming building, lots of lobstering paraphernalia, great view of the harbor, red picnic tables inside and out.  There are two tables outside of the actual restaurant that are designated the “dog friendly” tables.  Seems a little segregated for an outdoor picnic table spot.  Boothbay Lobster Wharf is very dog friendly and dogs hang out just like the regular people that they are.  I should mention in advance that I’m inevitably going to be comparing Lobster Dock to Lobster Wharf throughout this review.  It can’t be helped, they are very close to one another, Dock is more popular, locally and nationally.  They were even on Throwdown with Bobby Flay and featured in Coastal Living.  Wharf doesn’t get that kind of exposure and I happen to think Wharf has one of the best lobster rolls and lobster eating ambiance, full package, venues in Maine.  So, it seemed up to Dock to prove that they could live up to the hype.  Sadly, I can’t say that they did.  I say sadly, because I genuinely do want all lobster roll places to be amazing.  And at the least, I want to see the amazing places be the ones that are getting the hype.

First, we arrived to a line, always a downer, but I’m willing to live with it in summer.  What started to frustrate me, as lines are bound to do was the inefficiency.  I don’t mind a line because a place is busy.  I do mind a line because they are inefficient.   There is one girl taking orders and filling everyone in the party’s drink order before she moves on to the next person.  Despite the fact that there is a decent size line, plenty of empty tables, and multitudes of “food runners” wandering casually about, no one is helping this girl to get the line moving.  You place your order, wait for your drinks, get a number, have a seat, then a food runner roams all around the place looking for the person with that number.  So, the time between when your food is ready and the guy finds you can be a decent amount of time.

When we got to the counter to place our order, I felt the need to ask a question I never ask.  Not sure why I felt possessed, maybe because it was high soft shell lobster season and it was on my mind.  Either way, I asked the gal about fresh cooked and picked (yes, it is), then I asked if it was hard or soft shell lobster in the lobster roll.  Her reply was unexpectedly blunt.  She didn’t know, she wasn’t going to check, but she replied, “Honestly, probably soft shell because it’s cheaper, sorry to say”.  Yikes, I’m betting that isn’t the answer your boss would be happy to hear you give.  In her defense, she had spent the entire time taking orders, money, and filling every drink order with absolutely no help, so I understand she was frustrated.  I actually prefer soft shell for lobster rolls.  It is less dense, a bit more tender and sweet, ideal for the sandwich bite experience.

On to the lobster roll that finally arrived after I flagged down the food runner guy who looked like he was lost and carrying my order on his tray.  There was a choice of hot or cold, it was a rainy, cold day, and it’s unusual to see a hot version in this neck of the woods, so hot it was.  It had many of the elements I look for, fresh picked tail and claw, the chunks were smaller than I prefer, but still nicely sized, spongies, but not too many.  The amount of meat was on the skimpy side, it weighed in at about half the weight of it’s neighbor at Wharf for a very similar price.  But, the meat just somehow missed.  The flavor was bland, it tasted more greasy than buttery, it wasn’t overcooked and rubbery as hot can be, but still missed perfect texture.  The bun was buttery grilled, but managed to not be crisp, possibly because it was in the cardboard sleeve for a while before the food runner found me.  The butter did manage to sog up the bottom, but not so much that it fell through.  It wasn’t bad, it was decent, I just can’t say that it was in any way good or memorable.  I was left feeling disappointed that I had wasted valuable stomach space that could have been spent on the incredible Lobster Wharf roll.  Also left feeling a bit glum that once again lobster roll hype has been directed at the wrong place, particularly when whoever was doing the writing for Coastal Living or the scouting for Bobby Flay was so close to the marvelous Boothbay Lobster Wharf, just a few feet down the road.

Weighed in at 6.3 oz.

http://www.thelobsterdock.com/

Visited August 2012

Lobster Dock on Urbanspoon