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Category Archives: Shack with seating

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

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