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Category Archives: Seasonal

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

Lobster Shack – Ogunquit, Maine

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lobster shack roll

The Lobster Shack is located in perhaps one of the busiest locations on the Maine coast, Perkins Cove in Ogunquit.  Don’t believe me, try parking there in the summer, or I should say, getting anywhere near it.  It is popular for good reason, it’s packed with fantastic restaurants, shops and galleries.  If that weren’t enough, it overlooks the ocean and there is about a mile walk along the coastline with gorgeous views.  Fortunately, for me, a few places started opening in April before the mobs hit, which is the time for me.  Lobster shack has a curious location because it actually shares a wall with another lobster shack, Footbridge Lobster, right next door.  It would be easy to think, as I did at first that Footbridge is the takeout window for Lobster Shack, but they are completely separate entities.  Both of which serve a great, fresh lobster roll.  It would only be right to eat both if you made it all the way into Perkin’s Cove.  I’m not a fan of the other lobster roll hot spot in Perkins Cove, Barnacle Billy’s, but they do have the best view of the three.

The inside of Lobster Shack has a very cozy, warm feel.  It was cold on the day I visited, so that’s a positive.  It’s all pine wood benches, tables and walls.  I should also mention that they have something that I don’t see often, but all lobster places should have, a sink for washing your hands without waiting to go to the bathroom, genius.

When I asked if they cook the meat fresh themselves for the lobster rolls, the friendly gentleman at the counter said that they sure do, several times throughout the day, and pointed to a tank of live lobsters.  Which of course made me feel guilty because I don’t like meeting my meals while they are alive.  Hypocritical, I know.  The lobster roll here is really fantastic.  The fresh picked meat, lightly coated in mayo just melts in your mouth and the standard split top bun, which I, at first thought was burnt, actually added a nice browned butter flavor that was quite nice.   Overall, this is a great spot to enjoy a top notch lobster roll.

Weighed in at 5.6 ounces

Visited April 2013

Lobster Shack website

Lobster Shack on Urbanspoon

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

Footbridge Lobster – Ogunquit, Maine

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Footbridge Lobster’s lobster roll is in my book, Lobster Rolls of New England!!

lobster coveredited