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Hancock Gourmet Lobster from Gilt Taste online mail order

hancock lobster roll

I happen to be a huge fan of the Hancock Gourmet lobster roll served at the Big E Maine building.  This lobster roll is only available at the Big E and by mail order.  There is no store you can drive to an buy this lobster roll, even in the summer.  So, imagine my thrill when I saw that a lobster roll kit from Hancock was available through Gilt Taste for a mere $60, including shipping.  I know, that’s still pretty steep, but it’s usually closer to $85.  They claim that the kit makes 6 lobster rolls, and includes 6 buns, and 1 pound of mixed lobster salad.  It really depends on how hearty you prefer your lobster rolls.  I made 4 lobster rolls out of the one pound package, but you could get away with making 6 smaller rolls, I just happen to prefer a hearty meat:bread ratio.  I placed my order and my package arrived at my door the next day, how very exciting!  Fresh Maine lobster rolls and I never even left my house.

The lobster arrives in a styrofoam cooler, packed nicely with cold packs packs.  The meat is pre-mixed with the mayo and as they say on the package “spices”.  Immediately, I embarked on lobster roll assembly.  I brushed the outside of the bun with melted butter, grilled it to golden perfection.  I also brushed the inside with melted butter, because can you really ever have enough butter?  I piled in the lobster meat and dug in.  I was fully expecting this to be an exact replica of the Big E lobster roll, except of course, better, because of all the butter and grilling I involved.  To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t quite as good as the Big E version.  The spongie pieces had the yuck spongie texture and had to be removed, unlike the Big E version where they have the slippery texture and incorporate seamlessly into a the lobster bites.  I know, slippery is a terrible description of something delicious, but it’s the only way I can think to distinguish it from the other texture.  Through online chat with Hancock, I confirmed that this claw and knuckle meat is fresh picked and has never been previously frozen.  The lobster meat was still very good, briny, tasty, not too much mayo and I have to guess that by spices, they mean nothing more than salt and pepper because I didn’t taste anything else.  That is a good thing.

The bread was the standard split top bun, allegedly only sold in New England and superior to other buns.  I did a side by side bun comparison with Wonder buns, but that’s for another post to come.  When coated in butter and grilled up, it was a great complement to the cool lobster meat.  Overall, this was a very tasty lobster roll, delivered right to my door and a perfect fix if you happen to be in the large part of the world where fresh picked Maine lobster isn’t available year round.  I happen to be lucky enough to live near City Fish, where I can get fresh picked lobster meat for $40/lb year round, so I won’t likely be ordering this mail order lobster roll very often.  By comparison, the price of the Hancock kit may seem high, but when you think about how much you pay for one lobster roll in the summer, which often isn’t nearly as good and Maine fresh as this one, for 6 lobster rolls, this really is a very good deal.  So, if all my pictures of lobster rolls are making you crave one and you think you have to wait until a summer New England vacation, think again.  Order this up and you could be eating a fresh, tasty lobster roll, wherever you are, tomorrow!

Ordered and eaten in February 2012

Oar House – Portsmouth, New Hampshire

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Lobster Roll Oar House Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Trying to have a drink overlooking the water at 7pm on the Saturday of Memorial Day in Portsmouth, as you can imagine, is quite a challenge.  After trying about 8 places, we finally got a seat at the Oar House Dock.  I think it was due to the fact that their hostess stand is out by the road, you can’t quite tell that there is seating behind the building and most importantly, and probably why I approached is because the hostess stand looks exactly like a hot dog vendor stand that sells Stella beer, complete with the Stella umbrella.  I figured it was a win-win, either I get a beer or a seat by the water with a beer.  So, lucky for me, we immediately got a table right by the water with a gorgeous view and ordered up a sav blanc (on a side note, served in the darn cutest fish plastic wine glasses, almost tried to steal some to use at the pool).  Checking out the menu, they did indeed have a lobster roll.  I was quite stuffed from a day of lobster trailing, but the waitress said it was fresh meat, so I had to try it out.  Yes, this was the lobster roll where my parents thought I had passed into insane territory.  We had, after all, finished the largest lobster roll on the planet, Beach Plum, and finished off a blueberry ice cream sundae not an hour and a half before.  No matter, the quest to sample every lobster roll is not for the weak of stomach.  The venue here is very dock bar kind of vibe where you’re thinking the food serves mainly to soak up the booze, not the destination.  So, I will confess, I was a little worried.  I will say that it was better than I was expecting, but definitely not a destination lobster roll.  The bread was standard wonder style, but toasted, not butter grilled, which made it a dry experience.  The meat was spongie-a-go-go.  I actually took a photo for your viewing pleasure of the mountain of spongies.  On to the good part, which was the meat that was left once I picked out the spongies.  I really believed her that it was fresh and it was amazingly flavorful, not too much mayo, really quite good.  Overall, a great place for a drink on the water, an adequate place for a lobster roll.

Weighed in at 6.5 oz.

Visited May 2012

The Oar House on Urbanspoon

The Clam House – Ipswich, Massachusetts

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Lobster Roll The Clam House Ispwich, Massachusetts

My mom was getting into the swing of lobster trailing and suggested we stop by this cute place on the way to the clam box.  Sure, why not, by the way, I never actually ate the clam box lobster roll.  The line was insane and I would rather gnaw my arm off than wait in line much longer than 15 minutes for anything.  Yes, anything, despite one hour and fifteen minute wait that felt like pure torture, I’ve even figured out how to score the elusive Red’s Eats lobster roll without a wait.  Maybe one day I’ll share the secret.  So, the Clam House, cute spot, picnic tables outside, friendly service, not so great lobster roll.  We asked the nice teen at the counter about the meat, and he said it was fresh, but I wasn’t really buying it.  So I sent Ken back in to ask again and he had the kid check with the older guy who really knew, but sadly, he didn’t speak english and didn’t get the question.  Oh well.  It was a standard wonder type bun, grilled nicely and filled with very shredded, very red, indicating to me lot of odd pieces like legs or something.  Decent mayo, shredded lettuce on the bottom.  Taste was not bad, but not good.  Still good to explore and stop at unexpected places.

Weighed 5.7 oz.

Visited May 2012

The Beach Plum – North Hampton, New Hampshire

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Lobster Roll The Beach Plum North Hampton, New Hampshire

This is the third time I’ve been to this spot, but I didn’t get around to writing about the last time so I’ll fold that in too.  I kind of love this place.  It doesn’t serve the best lobster roll, it does serve the biggest, and it is really quite good despite the fact that they use a mix if fresh and frozen claw meat.  Found out that factoid thanks to Ken’s cousin, Zach, who lives in Portsmouth and is easily the most valuable lobster gal team member I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating lobster rolls with.  He asks all the questions, ones I didn’t even think of, and even finds out who is the right person to talk to about these things.  He even found out that the get the lobster meat from Ipswich, MA.  We have only ever had lobster rolls with him at Beach Plum, but I really could learn a lot if I could get him to join the lobster roll quest more often.  He even got me a behind the scenes tour of the kitchen where they showed me how they actually weigh out each lobster roll.  10 oz isn’t just a guestimate here.  The Portsmouth location, where Zach and the fam joined us is open year round and really has more of a super crowded McDonalds vibe to it.  You get your food, then be prepared to fight to the death to get a table or work out a deal with a table that looks almost finished as we ended up doing after I got cut off at the pass three times by stroller weilding moms.  I like the vibe at the North Hampton location much better.  It’s a takeout window and I guess the table fighting is roughly the same, but here you can take your food across the street and sit at the lovely beach.  I really do like this lobster roll.  The standard bun is very buttery grilled and filled like a mountain with cool, lightly mayoed fresh and frozen mix of claw and knuckle meat.  I know, as with anything, there must be different levels of quality with frozen lobster meat.  Or, maybe they do something special to it, but it is quite good and full of flavor in a way that most bland, watery frozen meat doesn’t.  Not so with the hot lobster roll they serve at the Portland location in the winter.  I was picturing a hot, buttery version of their cold lobster roll, not so.  The hot version is just whole claws, clearly frozen, spongies and all, plopped on the bun.  It’s just not very good, skip this one until they start taking the exact same meat in the cold version, warm it up, not sautee or cook it, then toss it with melted butter somewhat cooled so that it sticks to the meat and doesn’t just soak into the bun.  Sorry, just had to share that fantasy, it could be so great.  Or a version with their lobster bisque could be fantastic too.  You should order the lobster biquue, very good and seems to have an amount of meat comparable to their lobster rolls.  Ok, enough sharing how people should run their obviously successful business.  The have a great product, the cold lobster roll, don’t miss it.  Worth noting, their ice cream is also worth saving plenty of room for.  They have tons of creative flavors, huge servings, as is their trademark, very tasty stuff.  Ideally, I love their pumpkin ice cream with butterscotch topping but, it is seasonal and the banana and the blueberry are also winners.  Yes, I love me some fruit flavored ice cream to top off my lobster rolls.

P.S. – For some strange reason, Ken decided to order the foot long lobster roll, which is really two regular sized rolls, which he didn’t finish, obviously.  So, we wrapped it up, put it and the cooler to take home.  I must say, the lobster roll was also very delish the next day.  Of course, the bread wasn’t crisp like the day before, but not dried out or anything, still very good.  So, order the foot long and take one home.  Nothing beats having another lobster roll at home the day after a trip.

These photos are from the North Hampton location in May 2012.  Lobster roll weighed in at 10.9 oz.  Photos from the Portsmouth location in separate post.

Visited March and May 2012

The Beach Plum on Urbanspoon

The Dog Watch Cafe – Stonington, Connecticut

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Lobster Roll Dog Watch Cafe Stonington, Connecticut

In my favorite town in Connecticut, Stonington, this is my second favorite restaurant, by a nose.  Not because the food isn’t as good, but the view is better at Skipper’s Dock.  It’s worth mentioning that the clam chowder here is amazing, some of the best I’ve ever had.  The lobster roll is just fine.  It’s a cold lobster roll, all claw meat, overly shredded for my taste and with minimal mayo.  It involved celery and shredded lettuce, which I’m not a fan of and it is served in a standard white split top bun, nicely grilled.  The fries are great, they are those double fried, crusty outside kind.  This is a great restaurant on a day when outdoor dining isn’t the best option.  Dog Watch has more of a cozy, warm, soup and beer kind of vibe, great place.

Visited June 2011

Dog Watch on Urbanspoon