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Apr 24, 2006 10:24 PM

Maine Lobster

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I will be in Portland the first week of July and am looking for the best places for lobster. Not fancy, just good, cheap lobster.

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  1. No reason to overpay for a steamed lobster. I'd truck it over to DiMillo's, on the waterfront conveniently located on Commercial Street with its own parking. Boone's Restaurant a block down would be another fine choice...

    15 Replies
    1. re: Keefer Lucas

      DiMillos? The overpriced floating tourist trap? Long wait, lousy service and greasy food DiMillos?

      Are you just trying to keep the good places hidden so they won't get overcrowded?

      Goodness, even the Weathervane (gawdawful Red Lobster wannabe that it is) can boil a lobster better than DiMillos.

      Ick, ick, ick.

      I like Haraseeket Lunch--and last time we were there we were delighted to find a good supply of big (3+ pounds) lobsters available. Worth every buttery penny.


      1. re: pamela

        Good job Pam.....
        Whats wrong with Portland Lobster next to DiMillo's?

        1. re: pamela

          Have to agree about DiMillos. It's just not good. Nice setting, though.
          Agree about Haraseeket, as well. No trip to Freeport is complete without lunch there. When it's high season though, do try to time your appetite to avoid the REALLY big crowds. We had an excruciating wait a couple of times last summer. The fried clams were also more expensive than the lobsters, if I remember correctly. VERY expensive, anyway.

          1. re: pamela

            See, I completely disagree about DiMillo's. First off, a lobster at DiMillo's isn't going to be any more or less than a boiled lobster dinner any place else, so it being "overpriced" is either irrelevant or inaccurate, or both. And it being "greasy" is equally irrelevant as the question was about boiled LOBSTER.

            If you JUST want a boiled lobster dinner, Dimillo's would be a fine choice. As would Boone's or the Portland Lobster Company.

            Dimillo's does what they do very well - I've never had much of a wait there, and their haddock chowder is consistently the best in the Old Port. Their crabcakes are among the best in Portland too. Dimillo's is the Hilltop Steakhouse of seafood, for better or worse...

            1. re: Keefer Lucas

              Actually, Dimillo's is the only place where I have ever had a bad boiled lobster. In fact everyone in our party did. They must have either been dead or boiled forever because they were tastless, mushy, and just awful. Before that, I never realized it was possible to ruin boiled lobster. To be fair, this was at the old location and over 20 years ago, but I still wouldn't eat at Dimillos again.

              1. re: jms

                This is ridiculous. I've had many fine meals at Dimillo's but fine for what IT IS. One of my pet peeves about Chowhound is that someone will post a question and from the "gist" of their posting they will be looking for affordable or "off the beaten track" recommendations and there will be a chorus of people making suggestions like "Street & Company is fantastic!", which may be true, but hardly "affordable" in the Chowhound sense. But I digress.

                I've been smoked out at Street & Company and contracted a nasty case of food poisoning at one of the region's other highly praised fine dining establishments. These things happen.

                I simply won't stand for unqualified bashing of DiMillo's. I live in the Old Port and eat out almost every night of the week, covering everyplace from Ri-Ra to the Old Port Sea Grill, Street & Company, Rivalries, J's Oyster Bar and - yes - Dimillo's on an all-too-regular basis. I stay stand by my recommendation of the haddock chowder and crab cakes in particular at Dimillo's, and the boiled lobster dinner too.

                1. re: Keefer Lucas

                  Not bashing the place--just being a good chowhound and sharing my perspective and experience. I can't speak for the haddock chowder but the crabcake I, and another member of our party had there was dried, lukewarm, and fishy.

                  I think DiMillos is awful, and I won't hesitate to say so. You're free to enjoy it.

                  1. re: Keefer Lucas

                    Fail to see how DeMillo's could be deemed "off the beaten track". All tourist maps seem to point there! So even if chowhounds didn't mention it, it certainly would be on their radar screen. What we can add is our opinion.

                    And BTW, though you might disagree, I believe Street & Co. does what it does -- seafood -- very, very well. That's my opinion; you may disagree, which is fine. You may have had a bad experience, which is also fine to put forward. But your having an opinion doesn't have to be for the purpose of proving everyone else on this board wrong.

                    My pet peeve is people looking for the "one best place". There is no such thing. Uniformity seems to be entirely contrary to the basic chowhound ethic. Our differing perspectives, experiences and tastes, in my view, enrich the chowhound experience and this board.
                    respectfully submitted.

                    1. re: willow

                      Beautiful written article. Thank you so much.
                      You are a very good writer, and know how to use the correct words. Keep up the good work, and may we see your signature more often?

                    2. re: Keefer Lucas

                      Dimillo's = yuck.

                      Granted, I was a tourist, but . . . no. Never again.

                      (It ain't bashing if it's true.)

                      1. re: zin1953

                        The closest comparison I can draw, as a Boston Hound, is Ken's Steakhouse in Framingham, Ma. They're both large, tiredly old and virtually invisible, at this point, to anyone in-the-know,
                        Hound or not.

                        1. re: zin1953

                          It is bashing when you make negative remarks about a place and offer no evidence to support your claim.

                    3. re: Keefer Lucas

                      Then you got lucky. We were foolish enough to go there twice (once on our own, once with friends who insisted it had improved). Awful, over-boiled and tough lobster dinners, with tepid, greasy vegetables on the side. The crabcake was even worse.

                      I am far more content at a roadside lobster shack. DiMillos was not fresh, and should not have screwed up such a simple dinner order. For what we paid, we expected far more.

                      1. re: Keefer Lucas

                        This is a fine restaurtant for sea food. I do hope that the people that found problems with the quality of the food gave Dimillo's the opportunity to correct the situation. Living only a mile from DiMillo's we eat there often and have enjoyed every aspect of it. Sorry not everyone has the same taste as I do.

                      2. re: pamela

                        Goodness, I'm always hesitant to re-open an old thread. But since it's been done for me, I'm laughing my ass off!

                        "Goodness, even the Weathervane (gawdawful Red Lobster wannabe that it is) can boil a lobster better than DiMillos."

                        Talk about an oxymoron within an oxymoron :-)

                    4. South Freeport -- Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster. Nice location on harbor, but not cheap unless you buy at the pound and take home to cook yourself.


                        1. re: meatme

                          In my opinion-Two Lights is terrible.
                          -wait in a long line to order
                          -get a 1/2 filled lobster roll
                          -pay top price
                          -a real overpriced tourist trap

                        2. Candi and I come to Maine every chance we get (30 years) and have our favorites. Here is our list from the New Hampshire border up north and east.
                          Warrens Lobster House, Kittery
                          Cape Porpoise Lobster Pound, Cape Porpoise
                          Demillo's (Yeah I know its touristy but you have to take if for what it is and sometimes you want something other than lobster. Besides, they offer FREE PARKING which is a scarce commodity at the Old Port Exchange area of Portland)
                          A lobster joint at West Harpswell. Must have been there a hundred years. Don't remember the name.
                          Skip Cook's on Bailey Island
                          Five Islands Lobster Pound, Five Islands,
                          Robinhood Free Meeting House Restaurant, Robinhood, Huge menu, good for the special night out
                          Red's Eats, Wiscasset. Best Lobster Roll
                          Lobstermans Wharf, East Boothbay
                          Shaws Lobster Wharf, New Harbor
                          Pemaquid Fishermans Co-op, Pemaquid
                          Sea Gull Restaurant, Pemaquid Point--Perfect for breakfast. On a cliff overlooking the ocean.
                          Pemaquid Hotel, Pemaquid, Restored Hotel. a very neat place to stay
                          Round Top Ice Cream, Damariscotta--Truly the best I've ever eaten
                          Moody's Diner, Waldoboro. Made famous by humorist, Tim Sample

                          Camden has lots of nice places to eat. It's the Annapolis of the north. There is a lobster roll stand in the parking lot behind the stores that serves great lobster rolls

                          SKIP Lincolnville Lobster Pound
                          SKIP Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, Trenton Bridge. Anyplace that SELLS drawn butter... Also people not nice.
                          Bar Harbor, like Camden has lots of nice restaurants but they seem to change yearly.
                          I know I missed a bunch.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: ptcandy

                            I've never agree with a poster's opinions as much as I have with yours!
                            We too have been coming up to Maine for a long time(30 yrs. +)for a month each Fall and I agree with your posts from your "Skip Cooks' on Bailey Island" comment.
                            South of their we just haven't tried; North of there we hit all the time.
                            Red's is good but we really hate the long lines we usually enocunter in overcrowded Wiscasset.
                            We're more inclined not to try to fight our way to Red's(including finding any decent parking)and the horrid traffic in Wiscasset and we head directly to the Lobsterman's Wharf in Boothbay.
                            Also someone at CH mentioned that the Wharf had the best crab rolls they had ever had so last yr. we made a point of trying their crab rolls.
                            This chowhounder it the nail on the head also.
                            Giove their crab roll a try---truly outstanding!!!
                            The Bradley Inn ,near the Pemaquid Hotel(where we always stay) usually has a lobster special in their daily menu.
                            The prices are very high but the different way they serve their lobster dishes make this a special treat once in a while.
                            We like the breakfast lobster omlets and crab omelts that the Sea Gull Shop serves also.
                            BTW the Pemaquid Hotel,The Sea Gull Shop,& the Bradley Inn are all for sale.
                            I hope whoever,eventaully,buys these places keeps up the great atmosphere there and the good food to be found there.
                            The ice cream at the Sea Gull Shop is also excellent.
                            We also skip all your mentioned places from Lincolnville North.
                            We must have been there at Trenton Bridge when you were there;the people there are not nice and charging for butter---outrageous!
                            We would really like to try Waterman's but they are always closed by Oct. when we get there.

                            1. re: catnip

                              Wait a minute? Trenton Bridge is now charging for butter? I'm stunned. They're top of my list and have been for years. And they've always been quite sweet to us. Let's hope you both hit on a bad day.

                              Granted, before he was married my husband (who was from the Bronx at the time) once had to give them a $2 deposit to use their pick and cracker, but since he's been domesticated, they've never asked us for money... beyond the fortune we offer up for lobsters, stew, and diet soda.

                              Good, good stuff, and I'm eager to make the long drive north to make sure they're still in good form.

                              1. re: fatladysings

                                It's too bad too because there are very few wood fired lobster cookers left. Does anyone know of another wood fired cooker? I use a deep fried turkey fryer to cook lobster but it isn't the same.

                                1. re: ptcandy

                                  What possible difference could it make if the fire is wood or gas when they are boiling the lobster? Naples Lobster Pound(Naples) and Abels(MDI) had wood fired boiled lobster. Now, why Mainers boil instead of steaming as we do on Long Island is a mystery to me. I find boiling "washes" out more flavor but I'm a guy who can't cook much beyond a fried egg so maybe I'm missing something.

                                  1. re: stuartlafonda

                                    Nope boiling seals in the salt water and and steaming allows it drain. Really ther is no difference. Fier imparts no flavor, but down east Maine is poor and spruce slab wood is free. It a cost thing. (and the tourists think it is cool to see a fire burning.).

                                2. re: fatladysings

                                  Just went to the Trenton Bridge place and skipped the butter since they wanted 80 cents. They also wanted to sell you a whole lemon for 80 cents. I agree that the women working there seemed quite hostile. The lobster was fine.

                              2. re: ptcandy

                                West Harpswell joint is Morse Lobster - Good, and atmospheric, but in no way great. The best lobster we had was in Boothbay Harbor at the Lobster Dock. mmmmmm

                                1. re: wiki

                                  Point of order; the West Harpswell "joint" would have to be
                                  The Dolphin Chowder House as it's been around, relatively speaking, forever. But I would hardly classify it as a "joint". Morse's isn't in West Harpswell nor has it been open for more than a decade. OP may have actually been referencing Estes of South Harpswell which has been forever and is fairly termed a "joint".


                                  BTW, Cook's is expensive for the area but the food is far better than in the past.
                                  I don't mean that as faint praise, Unlike ptcandy, I would send out-of-stater's here long before I would to DeMillio's, free parking in Portland or no.

                                2. re: ptcandy

                                  ptcandy mentioned this restaurant in Harpswell Me. It's a goody, not fancy, but certainly nice!

                                3. Honestly, eating lobster OUT in Maine is pricey and one place is as good as the next, as far as I am concerned, so it depends on where you are going to be. Price is also a consideration, but I'm guessing there is not much variation among the informal restaurants. Probably a lobster shack type place is best on the coast somewhere to round out the experience--might as well have a view (like going to the Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth, despite the long lines) to enjoy the eating beasts while taking in the lovely scenery and salt air. Really, its best to just buy them and cook them yourself if you can, going to a place like Free Range or Harbor Fish in Portland to get them. But ptcandy gave lots of suggestions for getting lobster out and I suspect they are quite good for boiled lobster.

                                  People might have my head, but I do prefer soft shells in the later summer simply because they are (a) cheaper, and (b) easier to break open without lacerating my hands. I do not find the flavor and meat quality/quantity to be so terribly compromised in soft shells. Of course, I'd eat lobster in ANY shell, and you should definitley find a way to have your fill while visiting. One of the great culinary treats in Maine...