Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Lobster Rolls

At Red's Eats, which has often been credited with popularizing of lobster rolls in the 1970s.  

Lobster rollslobster meat served in a hot dog style bun are close to perfection for some.  

Deciding to have one for lunch is easy.  Finding the best source, however, is a bit more difficult.   Different venues vary greatly.  Some are generous with the lobster, and others skint.  Freshness matters.  Expensive restaurants do not have an advantage over local "no frills" establishments.  

There are also two approaches to lobster rolls, which each originated in different parts of New England. The classic warm lobster roll, with just lobster meat and melted butter in a toasted bun, originated in Milford, Connecticut in 1927 at a diner named Perry's.  The cold lobster salad approach, with mayonnaise, celery, lemon, lettuce, salt, pepper, and various other ingredients, first appeared in the late 1920s at Moody's Diner in Waldoboro, Maine.   Today, variations abound. 

Best of all, even an average lobster roll is still pretty great, and often the easiest thing to order, especially on the go.

Photo credits:  Salt Water New England 

Occasionally worth the line.

Variations of Lobster Rolls Abound

For On the Boat

Ocean House.  Comme ci, comme ├ža.

Moody's was the first restaurant to offer the cold lobster salad version of lobster rolls. 


43 comments:

  1. As a New England native transplanted to the Mid-Atlantic, Luke’s Lobster is as close as we get except for summer vacations. It does the job, but most nondescript Maine lobster shacks are better. Red’s is a massive lobster roll; I think anything would taste great after standing in the sun for an hour waiting for it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, a lobster roll with a generous smear of mashed avocado!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm speaking about more than 50 years ago so I doubt they're still around but there were 2 in Connecticut called: Jimmy's of Savin Rock. They were a step up from the fundamental lobster shack, but they served lobster rolls and local sea food. Being Catholic I went almost every Friday. They were wonderful and I loved Jimmy's!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jimmie’s had the gent who took your money, gave you your food, then slapped your change on the counter. He worked so fast they called him “the machine.” One night a kid from Milford held out his hand, expecting perhaps the machine would hand him the change. Nope. The machine looked him right in the eye and slapped the change on the counter. The kid clocked the machine. All hell broke loose.

      Delete
    2. Golfers say “making the turn” to refer to moving on to the second nine holes after finishing the first nine. Savin Rock became seedy and shabby as time passed. As caddies at New Haven Country Club about the most derisive comment you would hear about a golfer, usually about his personality, was that, “he couldn’t make the turn at Savin Rock.”

      Delete
    3. Here, here to Jimmy’s of Savin Rock! Best lobster rolls ever. Dripping with butter and the crunch of a toasted roll. Great memories.

      Delete
    4. Jimmie’s invented the “split frank on toasted bun.”

      Delete
    5. Frederick J JohnsonMay 23, 2022 at 11:34 AM

      Jimmie's is still around and still dishing out lobster rolls, although the take-out option was severely diminished along with the drive-in quality when the restaurant was rebuilt. Prices have jumped by a huge margin and the quality has somewhat suffered.

      Delete
  4. Lobster rolls with mayo only in Maine. In Connecticut it’s butter butter butter and maybe a splash of lemon. I continue my informal ranking of the Shoreline’s best and as it stands:
    1) Lobster Landing, Clinton
    2) Lenny and Joe’s, Madison
    3) Liv’s Shack, Old Saybrook
    4) Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock, New London
    5) Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough, Noank
    6) Westbrook Lobster, Westbrook

    If it’s not on the list, I haven’t tried it yet. Lobster Landing remains far and away the best. I look forward to trying some others this summer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Guilford Lobster Pound essential addition, as is relative newcomer and slightly more innovative Knot Norm’s in East Norwalk.

      Even though I generally prefer CT style, Young’s at Rock Harbor in Orleans MA make the finest cold rolls, ideal for the beach with cold seltzer and chips. Before Covid they could be bought for under $15 a piece.

      Delete
    2. Our go-to for a lobster roll has always been the Clam Castle in Madison. Love Lobster Landing, but they are a bit skimpy with the lobster.

      Delete
  5. The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport Maine was a wonderful experience last summer.

    ReplyDelete
  6. In the “old days” my favorites were Kelly’s on Revere Beach, Barnacle in Marblehead, Ogunguit Lobster Pound and Harraseeket Lobster in South Freeport. Great memories from many visits to each of them.
    I haven’t gotten back much to New England since the early 1990s and expect that things have changed quite a bit.
    If I had to choose one it would be Kelly’s. Many friends and business associates from all over the US have traveled up to Kelly’s and enjoyed a lobster roll sitting on the beach while on a business trip to Boston.
    It would be great to hear others favorites.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Red's has never failed us, now going on over 40 years! Thank you! Cheers!⛵️

    ReplyDelete
  8. May problem with Reds is, and always has been, the long wait. Bad enough trying to get through Wiscasset and over the bridge, but another hour standing in line is a bummer. My other complaint is that Reds really only serves it one way…cold. They give you plenty of hot butter, but it turns to sludge when poured on stone cold lobster meat. Want it with mayo, you get a squeeze pack of mayo and you have to find a way to mix it with the meat.
    Repeatedly voted best in Maine, and I have to agree, is McLoon’s in Thomaston. Hard to find, yes, but so worth finding.

    ReplyDelete
  9. While one can’t turn down a great lobster roll from Maine to the Cape—two other non-New England venues with equally great lobster rolls are:
    The Lobster Roll aka “Lunch” in Amagansett, Long Island, New York and
    Dry Dock Waterfront Grill on Longboat Key, Sarasota, Florida.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Never had one. Life-long (almost) vegetarian.

    ReplyDelete
  11. There's a surprisingly good lobster roll at Giordano's, the pizzeria/clam shack in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard. Cold style with mayo, generous amount of lobster. In New York, there's a fine one at P.J. Clarke's.

    ReplyDelete
  12. If you're on the New Hampshire Seacoast, Geno's in Portsmouth or Rye Harbor Lobster Pound in Rye have the BEST lobster rolls!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Cousins Maine Lobster Truck out of Queens, NY has outstanding lobster rolls. I try to catch them when they are out on Long Island

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just tried Cousins for the first time tonight. The Connecticut roll was fantastic!!

      Delete
  14. I'm not fond of lobster in any form, but I can report that family members are much taken with Woodman's in Essex.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Woodman's is a tourist trap. Locals know to keep driving past Woodman's on Rt 133 to either Farnham's or Essex Seafood.

      Delete
  15. With the price of diesel over $6 a gallon, the price of lobster rolls has skyrocketed. Our go-to went from $20 to $34.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Something tells me lobstah rolls are on the lunch menu every day in Heaven.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sure hope not - even though I love lobster, I'm allergic to shellfish, and once even went into anaphylactic shock after eating Chesapeake Bay soft-shelled crabs (recommended) at a French restaurant in Manhattan. Not good. Luckily, I got immediate medical attention, or else I would have had an early chance to check out today's specials on heaven's menu. So I believe I'll pass on the lobstah rolls today, and go with the filet mignon - rare - instead.

      Delete
  17. I will eat lobster rolls any way, anywhere and any time. YUM!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Love lobster rolls just about any way, but yes, Red's is the best!

    ReplyDelete
  19. The Wharf at Corea, Maine. They make a mean lobster grilled cheese as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll second that - killer lobster rolls, and really excellent blueberry pie as well. That is our local go to, and it's never failed us.

      Delete
    2. The Wharf is a good one. Seasonal place. Great biking (and surfing) around there--build up an appetite.

      Delete
  20. Red's Eats lobster roll is now $38. For four ounces of lobster... about $40 a pound.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Wrong! $160 per pound!

    ReplyDelete
  22. It does look so good! Hm, you made me hungry for lobster. Beautiful photos too, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  23. The cost is kind of ridiculous and prohibitive, but CT/RI style warm with butter every time.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Reds is the Disneyland of lobster rolls. I avoid that long line. The Dip Net in Port Clyde serves a nice one and you can't beat the view; sorry Red's.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. The best lobster roll we have found is Duntons in Boothbay. Gary is an interesting gentleman, who serves a delicious lobster or crab roll from an old travel trailer.

      Delete
    2. Gary sold Dunton's last fall and a young couple are making a go of it. It may be even better!

      Delete
  25. Believe it or not, I ate a lobster roll at a Colorado Rockies game at Coors Field in Denver (Club level seats). It was OK, but what spoiled the experience was that it was served on a regular hot dog bun, and not the New England style bun, You can also get a decent lobster roll in Denver at a place called the Maine Shack.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Red's only became overly crowded after it was lauded in the NYT's Sunday edition some years ago. Moody's is okay, Abbott's is okay also, but the one's sold by the Trevett General Store overlooking the Sheepscot River's "Back River swing bridge" in Trevett, Maine is to die for.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Moody's and Red's are a staple! Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
  28. We do a coast of Maine trip with our boat usually every year, launching into the Kennebec from Augusta, working our way down and then northward, stopping at every lobster shack we pass. Is there a thing as too much lobster?? --Holly in PA

    ReplyDelete

Comments are moderated.