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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

The Clam Box – Ipswich, Massachusetts

Clam Box lobster roll

When a place is world famous for having the best of one dish, as Clam Box is for their fried, whole belly clams, chances are excellent that is the thing to order.  Such is the case with Clam Box, at least I assume.  I don’t actually eat much in the fry food group and haven’t developed a taste for the whole belly, so I can’t personally vouch for them.  But, judging by the line I’ve seen multiple times here, they must be good.  I’m glad I found a day with a minimal line, because if I had waited for this lobster roll for over an hour, I think I may have felt a bit like the woman in front of me at Red’s who ordered a grilled cheese…stupid.

I knew when I got to the window to place my order and asked my questions that I was glad I hadn’t been in line too long.  The lobster meat is not cooked or picked there and yes, it is previously frozen lobster meat…  I was still holding out hope that it would be the good kind of frozen meat.  I mean, frozen meat, to me, has never been as good as fresh, but it can be decent.  For $18, ($3-$5 more than I’d paid for fresh picked that very same day) I expected at least decent.  As I took it into their cozy, mid-century, not modern, but cute cape cod, knobby pine vibe dining room, I still thought it sure looked like a good lobster roll.  The standard bun was buttery grilled, but one bite told me, this lobster roll was not for me.  What was curious was that the meat actually had lots of large chunks of tail meat in addition to claw, highly unusual with frozen meat.  In fact, I can’t remember ever encountering frozen tail meat in a lobster roll, this is a first.  Unfortunately, this tail meat seemed to take on an unpleasant, grainy texture, and none of it had much flavor at all.  It had minimal mayo, but in this case, I think more may have helped.

On the up side the onion rings were tasty.  Apparently, they change their frying oil at least once during the day, impressive.  The clam chowder was truly amazing, not to be missed.  As I should have expected, order what they are known for, fresh clams and fried food, skip the lobster roll.

Weighed in at 7.6 oz.

http://www.ipswichma.com/clambox/

Visited October 2012

Clam Box of Ipswich (Reopens Feb. 16) on Urbanspoon