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Rabia’s – Boston, Massachusetts

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lobster roll rabias

This was the first lobster roll after completing my book on the subject.  I felt totally lobstered out and figured I needed a good solid break from lobster writing, but a trip to Rabia’s in Boston refreshed and inspired me to get back on the wagon.  After a rather disappointing trip to the Boston Flower Show (I was at the Philly Flower Show the weekend before, so my standards were high) we decided it was time for some linner (lunch-dinner).  I dragged Ken and my pals Mark and Lu to my new favorite spot in the North End, Neptune Oyster, only to find that they were working on a 3 hour wait.  It was the Saturday before St Patricks Day in Boston, so understandable, but not doable if you’re hungry.  So, we headed two doors up to Rabia’s, it looked to be a crowd pleaser, no wait, large seafood and Italian menu and a roomy dining room, not easy to find roomy spaces in the North End.  I really hesitated on ordering this lobster roll.  I hadn’t brought any of my gear, scale and such, and I had Neptune on my mind and felt that anything else was bound to be disappointing.  But, our waiter told me that they cook and pick the lobsters in house.  Impressive, Neptune doesn’t even do that, there isn’t much space in the North End as I mentioned.  So, I had to give it a try.  They had four options, butter, mayo, bisque with mozzarella and one other I can’t remember.  I decided against butter since that is Neptune’s standout and went with the unique lobster bisque and mozzarella option.  The waiter described it as the most “soggy” option, not enticing but I went with it anyway,  In retrospect, I think he must have meant “has the most topping” and used the wrong descriptor.
When it arrived, I was thoroughly impressed by the looks of it.  It was quite large, I didn’t have my scale, so I couldn’t say exactly.  The bun was the texture and flavor of an Italian bread and the shape was more like a sub roll.  The bun had been warmed, but I couldn’t tell if it was grilled, there was no evidence of crispness and I frankly don’t think grilling would have worked here.  The meat was tossed in a thick bisque and sprinkled with what I would call more of a mozzarella garnish than anything, very minimal.  The bisque was thick enough and the bun hearty enough to prove the waiter wrong.  Throughout the eating experience, I experienced no sogginess.  That is quite a feat for any hot lobster roll, they all usually break down on the bottom, spilling the meat out.  The first bite really blew me away.  This lobster meat was incredibly tender and delicious, huge chunks of tail and claw.  I will admit, they need work on their lobster picking skills, I got several inner claw shards.  I felt like I should have been upset about it, but I actually found it strangely impressive because it was direct evidence that they do indeed pick in house.  You don’t find shell shards in frozen meat.  I have always been a believer that a lobster bisque roll should be done far more frequently.  I often order it with my roll to create it on my own, but I have only ever encountered one other and it wasn’t quite my vision.  This was exactly my vision, everything a lobster bisque lobster roll was meant to be.  Tender meat, hearty but light bun and a super flavorful bisque that had the texture to stick to the meat, not soak the bun.
I really had trouble containing my excitement and trying to share my joy with the table without sharing bites.  I wanted this whole thing for myself.  I still can hardly believe that the perfect hot buttered lobster roll (Neptune) is only two doors down from the perfect and most elusive, bisque lobster roll.  I’m certain I will be back to Rabia’s many times for this work of lobster perfection.  I have found in my travels that I am always very skeptical of lobster rolls in very close proximity to wildly popular lobster rolls with long waits.  But, every time, they have thoroughly impressed me.  There is a reason they can stay in business next to such a hot spot.  So, next time you’re too hungry to wait for Neptune (though I do highly recommend you wait at some point) head to Rabia’s and prepare to be wowed that there is no wait for this amazing roll.

http://rabias.com/

Visited March 2014

Rabia's Restaurant 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

Eventide Oyster Co. – Portland, Maine

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Eventide’s lobster rolls are in my book, Lobster Rolls of New England!!

lobster coveredited

Maine Fish Market – East Windsor, Connecticut

Lobster Roll at Maine Fish Market East Windsor, Connecticut

First lobster roll of the 2012 Lobster Trail!!  Needed a fix of trying an exciting new lobster roll in the off season.  So, we headed to the highly reccommended Mane Fish Market in East Windsor.  There were several reasons besides the recs that I thought this place was going to be great.  First, it says it’s a market, when I got there I saw very little evidence of a market except a board with prices, guess they keep the stuff in the back.  Second, according to their website, lobster seems to be a bit of a specialty and they pride themselves on getting it from Maine.  Last, the lobster roll says that it uses fresh lobster, always a good indicator that it will be what Lobster Gal always looks for.  Basically, it means I think they cook and pick the meat in-house and therefore it must involve tail meat.  So, on to the experience.  This place is obviously quite popular, it is a fairly large restaurant, they said a half hour wait, but we were seated in 15 min, yay.  Waited in the bar, the vibe there can best be described as 70’s gambling establishment, not because there is gambling, just has that lounge lizard feel.  We were seated and served fresh baked bread by our very friendly waiter.  At this point, my hopes were pretty high, always a recipe for a letdown.  I don’t normally ask, but I’ve resolved to get more back story on the lobster rolls I’m eating, so I ask fresh or frozen and cooked in-house or shipped in.  Our waiter was way more informed than average.  He told me that the lobster roll had all claw meat that was shipped in pre cooked, but fresh from their supplier.  So, I mean I guess “technically” the menu is accurate, but still, a letdown.  Ordered it anyway, since this by no means indicates a bad roll.  There were lots of options available when ordering the roll, hot or cold, mayo or butter or both, toasted or not, what kind of starch side and even veggies.  So, the lobster roll arrives, warm, naked, butter side, toasted, looks good.  I will say that the bread itself is really quite large, but the meat to bread ratio is bad.  You don’t see it at first look, but the meat is on a bed of shredded lettuce, making it look like more meat than it is.  Started picking through the meat, as I always do to get rid of the spongies, there were kind of a ton in this one and the chunks of claw meat were really not very substantial either, kind of seemed like B level meat.  The bread was good, kind of a baguette but I think it was actually too substantial, kind of overpowering.  Best part of this lobster roll was easily the melted butter, salty delishiousness, just right temp.  It was also actually melted butter as opposed to drawn butter.  In case you don’t know the distinction, drawn butter is where they remove the white milk solids from the melted butter, leaving clear butter, better for cooking or something.  I’m a big fan of the milk solids, wish I could get my melted butter with more added.  This was perfectly cloudy.  The lobster favor was fine.  It was overall an ok lobster roll.  I respect that it went for the unique bread move, even if it didn’t work, gave lots of “customizations”, and they served draft Stella. 

www.mainefishmarket.com

Visited January 2012

Maine Fish Market on Urbanspoon

Max Oyster Bar – West Hartford, Connecticut

Lobster Roll at Max Oyster Bar West Hartford, Connecticut

You can’t do‏ a lobster trail if you’re not going to try out the locals.  I generally love this restaurant, so high hopes.  The service is consistently good.  Lucy and I got the hot, butter lobster roll.  Not bad, a little too finely chopped for me, some tail, not as flavorful as I might have liked. The meat amount was a little skimpy, but the bread was a fresh baked type roll, so that’s good.   But the kicker was the dagger af a claw inside shell that I got in the roof of my mouth (photo below, it was worth sharing).  Ouch, no harm done, but I expected better from Max’s.  The guy we were eating with brought it to the waiter’s attention, since we’re too chicken, showed him the weapon, and we got free dessert.  Well, one dessert for three people.  It was good, truffle beignets.  I will say that he ordered the lobster cobb salad and it looked like a much better choice.  Definitely getting that next time.

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The offending shard
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The offending shard
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www.maxrestaurantgroup.com/oyster

Visited September 2010

Max's Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon