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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.

Visited August 2012

Lobster Dock on Urbanspoon

Boothbay Lobster Wharf – Boothbay Harbor, Maine

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

lobster coveredited

Phil and Mike’s (formerly Phil the Baker) – Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Phil and Mike's Lobster Roll

A little building on the side of the road connecting Rt 1 and Boothbay beckons with a sign for $8 lobster rolls, 3 for $22.  Ah, why not, Ken was still hungry from a non hearty breakfast.  You walk in and the sign says “order at kitchen counter”.  Sure enough, the room is pretty much like walking in to someone’s kitchen.  I placed my order with the elderly gentleman at the counter.  I assume this was Phil since he asked Mike, the younger man to run my credit card.  I have to respect that a man of Phil’s age is still running the show and cranking out the lobster rolls.  The pre-made lobster roll gets pulled from the fridge and placed in the sandwich maker grill for a warm up.  Interesting technique for pre-made, really takes the overly cold edge off of a refrigerated roll and adds a nice buttery crisp to the whole thing.  This lobster roll is definitely not a looker.  It looks like shredded mayoed salad in a regular hot dog bun, not top split.  Like the way egg salad looks in a hot dog bun.  Honestly, it really wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked.  It really did have a nice fresh lobstery flavor and the sandwich maker grilling was a nice twist.  Hey, it was 8 bucks and despite its looks, it was not bad.

Weighed in at 3.9 oz. 

Visited August 2012

Phil The Baker Mc Lellan on Urbanspoon