Braking for Lobster Rolls

Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery makes a damn fine lobster roll!

Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery makes a damn fine lobster roll!

Opinions concerning food are subjective; I get that. Some people like certain types and flavors of food. If you like lobster rolls, then you probably like a certain kind of presentation.

There are guides and rankings out there about what constitutes good, or even great, lobster rolls. One such guide that Miss Mary and I have been using since last summer is Mike Urban’s, Lobster Shacks: A Road-trip Guide to New England’s Best Lobster Joints.

We started using this last summer to ferret out some of Maine’s lobster shacks, especially the ones that were off the beaten path; the kind of places where the stereotypical Mainer’s response to a flatlander asking directions is the “you can’t get there from hee-yah,” retort.

Initially, Urban’s book seemed ok. We hit a few of his recommended shacks, like Thurston’s, out in Bernard (on the other side of Mount Desert Island).

Recently, maybe because the two of us are now rocking a fairly large sample size from two summer’s worth of tasting to draw from, and of course, particular inviolable standards, we’ve started experiencing some dissonance of late with using Urban’s book as our guide.

I’m a writer and I recognize that gathering data, particularly the subjective variety will always make you vulnerable to criticism, or readers disagreeing with your assessments. Urban’s book is still a valuable book and I’d suggest it to anyone who desires a guidebook in finding your way around New England’s more interesting roadside eateries, especially if your taste runs to lobster, lobster rolls, and traditional New England chowders and other kinds of seafood.

Unfortunately, two of Urban’s recommended Massachusetts’ eateries we checked out last weekend were duds; well, one in Wareham was a miss, and the other, in Provincetown, absolutely sucked. Ironically, they were both named, “The Lobster Pot.”

First, here are a few deal makers for Miss Mary and I when it comes to lobster rolls. In fact, I’ll defer to her relative to the need to arbitrate any differences between what I prefer, and what she deems essential in lobster rolls. She’s the “expert,” and the one who convinced me that lobster rolls were special and worthy of my attention.

1) The roll has to be a New England-style hot dog roll, a split-top variety, buttered and grilled on both sides. Then, the lobster meat has to be freshly-picked. Some stands/shacks buy their meat pre-processed and it usually tastes different, often “watery.”

2) A small amount of mayonnaise, but not so much that it overpowers or smothers the succulent taste of the lobster.

3) I won’t quibble about lettuce, but Mary really dislikes lettuce on her lobster roll.

Here are three places that we’re pretty high on and consider to be the best places to get an authentic Maine lobster roll.

A couple of honorable mentions that I’ll also mention:

  • J’s Oyster Bar-Portland

  • The Fisherman’s Net-Portland

It’s the start of lobster roll season. Time to get out and sample some of Maine’s best roadside eateries, especially those serving lobster rolls.