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Category Archives: Open Year Round

Rabia’s – Boston, Massachusetts

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lobster roll rabias

This was the first lobster roll after completing my book on the subject.  I felt totally lobstered out and figured I needed a good solid break from lobster writing, but a trip to Rabia’s in Boston refreshed and inspired me to get back on the wagon.  After a rather disappointing trip to the Boston Flower Show (I was at the Philly Flower Show the weekend before, so my standards were high) we decided it was time for some linner (lunch-dinner).  I dragged Ken and my pals Mark and Lu to my new favorite spot in the North End, Neptune Oyster, only to find that they were working on a 3 hour wait.  It was the Saturday before St Patricks Day in Boston, so understandable, but not doable if you’re hungry.  So, we headed two doors up to Rabia’s, it looked to be a crowd pleaser, no wait, large seafood and Italian menu and a roomy dining room, not easy to find roomy spaces in the North End.  I really hesitated on ordering this lobster roll.  I hadn’t brought any of my gear, scale and such, and I had Neptune on my mind and felt that anything else was bound to be disappointing.  But, our waiter told me that they cook and pick the lobsters in house.  Impressive, Neptune doesn’t even do that, there isn’t much space in the North End as I mentioned.  So, I had to give it a try.  They had four options, butter, mayo, bisque with mozzarella and one other I can’t remember.  I decided against butter since that is Neptune’s standout and went with the unique lobster bisque and mozzarella option.  The waiter described it as the most “soggy” option, not enticing but I went with it anyway,  In retrospect, I think he must have meant “has the most topping” and used the wrong descriptor.
When it arrived, I was thoroughly impressed by the looks of it.  It was quite large, I didn’t have my scale, so I couldn’t say exactly.  The bun was the texture and flavor of an Italian bread and the shape was more like a sub roll.  The bun had been warmed, but I couldn’t tell if it was grilled, there was no evidence of crispness and I frankly don’t think grilling would have worked here.  The meat was tossed in a thick bisque and sprinkled with what I would call more of a mozzarella garnish than anything, very minimal.  The bisque was thick enough and the bun hearty enough to prove the waiter wrong.  Throughout the eating experience, I experienced no sogginess.  That is quite a feat for any hot lobster roll, they all usually break down on the bottom, spilling the meat out.  The first bite really blew me away.  This lobster meat was incredibly tender and delicious, huge chunks of tail and claw.  I will admit, they need work on their lobster picking skills, I got several inner claw shards.  I felt like I should have been upset about it, but I actually found it strangely impressive because it was direct evidence that they do indeed pick in house.  You don’t find shell shards in frozen meat.  I have always been a believer that a lobster bisque roll should be done far more frequently.  I often order it with my roll to create it on my own, but I have only ever encountered one other and it wasn’t quite my vision.  This was exactly my vision, everything a lobster bisque lobster roll was meant to be.  Tender meat, hearty but light bun and a super flavorful bisque that had the texture to stick to the meat, not soak the bun.
I really had trouble containing my excitement and trying to share my joy with the table without sharing bites.  I wanted this whole thing for myself.  I still can hardly believe that the perfect hot buttered lobster roll (Neptune) is only two doors down from the perfect and most elusive, bisque lobster roll.  I’m certain I will be back to Rabia’s many times for this work of lobster perfection.  I have found in my travels that I am always very skeptical of lobster rolls in very close proximity to wildly popular lobster rolls with long waits.  But, every time, they have thoroughly impressed me.  There is a reason they can stay in business next to such a hot spot.  So, next time you’re too hungry to wait for Neptune (though I do highly recommend you wait at some point) head to Rabia’s and prepare to be wowed that there is no wait for this amazing roll.

http://rabias.com/

Visited March 2014

Rabia's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Seawell Seafood – Pawcatuck, Connecticut

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Sea Well Seafood’s lobster roll is in my book Lobster Rolls of New England:

 

lobster coveredited

 

Kitchen Little – Mystic, Connecticut

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lobster roll kitchen little

This lobster roll has been eluding me for quite some time.  Mainly because they only serve it before 2pm on weekdays, never on weekends, that’s always breakfast only and when I called, I was told that it’s not available at their new venture into dinner either.  It has however, been high on my list because they claim to use local, fresh seafood only and seem to be known for home cooking.  They recently moved from their tiny, “little” shack near Mystic Seaport to a much more off the beaten track, but so worth the effort, location at the Mystic marina, (if you knew that existed).  Their website says turn right and follow that road all the way back, which sounds easy enough, but actually involves quite a few twists, splits and drives through residential streets.  But, finally you arrive at the marina and head to the second floor to one of the most gorgeous views in Connecticut overlooking the water.  The second floor view really is a great place to watch the boats go by and relax watching the sun on the water.  We went on probably the hottest day on record in CT and fully expected to melt, but we took a table outside on the deck and found it to be extremely breezy and pleasant.  So, I can imagine it’s even better on a less sweltering day.

After an extremely slow start (probably 15 minutes before we saw an actual waitress), our waitress proved to be extremely helpful, friendly and entertaining.  They cook and pick the lobster meat right there, every day for both the hot and cold versions of the lobster roll.  We, of course, ordered both and I really couldn’t decide which I liked better.  The cold didn’t look very picture ready when it arrived with two giant pieces of lettuce and the meat kind of falling out.  But, that didn’t keep me from seeing the large chunks of tail and claw meat used with a fairly minimal amount of mayo.  They use a mix of fresh chopped herbs in both the hot and cold versions and the subtle flavor addition really adds a pleasant, fresh twist.  The meat is fantastic and the hot version managed to not be overcooked as is a common pitfall of the hot, buttered lobster roll.  The bun was your standard split top and could benefit from a more aggressive buttering and grilling, it was more toasted than grilled.  But overall, these lobster rolls are among the best in Connecticut and once you factor in the gorgeous view, this really is a must try.

As Lobster Gal doesn’t do very well with getting an early start, we were there the last people there after their 2pm closing time and got to chatting with our waitress.  She was lamenting the fact that they really aren’t very busy and that they may be ending the dinner service if it doesn’t pick up.  It’s on the water, they serve beer and wine at dinner and top notch, fresh seafood.  Since I’ve discovered it, I’m really hoping they stay open more hours.  I asked if I could get the lobster roll on evenings or weekends and she said yes, if they have the ingredients and aren’t too busy.  Well, when I called, I was told in no uncertain terms that I could only get the lobster roll at lunch on weekdays, so I guess it depends on who you ask, which isn’t good.

I didn’t tell her, but if I were going to offer Kitchen Little some advice on how to maximize their significant assets, my first piece of advice would be to serve those lobster rolls whenever they are open.  I would also suggest they get rid of their restrictive menu policy of no lunch on weekends and no sandwiches at dinner.  It’s off-putting when a restaurant appears as if it isn’t accommodating of what diners want to eat.  I noticed on Tripadvisor and Yelp that I wasn’t the only one who thought so, not everybody at a table wants breakfast after noon.  You have a great menu, let people order off of it, all of it, all the time.  I would also say they need to trim down the menu a bit, it takes a week to read through and doesn’t emphasize the fresh seafood nearly enough.  I get that somebody in charge here really wants to lead with breakfast, but I would suggest they lead with seafood and also let people know they serve beer and wine.  I would have enjoyed a glass of wine with lunch, maybe it just got lost in the menu, but I saw no mention of it.  They also could use some work on the service issues.  Some more prominent signage along the road back wouldn’t hurt either, it’s not easy to find.

I’m certainly going to make my way down there for dinner, not just to support them so they keep doing it, but because it honestly is one of the best lobster rolls in Connecticut and it is accompanied by one of the best water views on the Connecticut shoreline.  It doesn’t get much better than that, well, it could get better and I sure hope it does, or at least opens up the lobster roll availability.

Cold weighed in at 5.5 ounces

Hot weighed in at 5.1 ounces

Kitchen Little website

Visited July 2013

Kitchen Little on Urbanspoon

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