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In search of the ULTIMATE Lobsta Roll

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My quest for the best Lobsta Roll in Boston began last night at B&G and will continue until Labor Day. I plan to try as many rolls as I can find at place in the area, taking careful notes, and will report out in September. I'm calling it my Lobsta Safari...

Who makes the best Lobsta Roll?

Based on my meal last night at B&G we're off to an excellent start. The roll was very modern and minimalist - bun not toasted, lots of fresh lobster, very little mayo, nice side of fries, excellent service. At $24 it's still a value. The untoasted bun appears to work better when little mayo is used allowing the true flavor of the lobster to come out. If I wanted all that mayo, I'd order a tuna sub.

Where shall I go next?

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  1. Hands down Neptune Oyster Bar has the best Lobster Roll you will ever eat... When they ask you "cold with mayo or warm with butter" just say warm. . . it comes out on a toasted brioche bun overstuffed with chunks of lobster sauteed in butter. . . the crispy fries with it are really good, but you can also opt for garden greens and almond vinaigrette. . .

    next stop the north end!

    9 Replies
    1. re: zap64

      It seems like the butter (v. mayo) lobster roll is hard to find around here - I think of it as the default but I guess not. WBZ called it the "Connecticut style" is that right?

      1. re: missykins

        I have always heard the buttered version referred to at CT-style yes.

        1. re: Dax

          Was that completely obvious?? Never knew - I grew up there and figured that it was just a regular lobster roll.

          1. re: missykins

            Not completely obvious, I've lived in Boston the last 8+ years and this is how I had it explained here. We didn't have lobster rolls in Georgia where I grew up.

        2. re: missykins

          I've seen the warm butter version up in NH too, but the cold mayo more frequently near and in Boston.

          Don't tell anyone, but a fried lobster roll is also quite tempting. Has anyone seen one of those around?

          1. re: gini

            A fried lobster roll? Never heard of such a thing. Do tell....

            1. re: yumyum

              I know I'm in the tiny minority but I just don't get why you'd fry really good seafood. Some episode of some show on the Food Network showed how you can "chicken fry" anything and literally did a shoe and that's how I feel about batter fried seafood - you're only tasting the batter, why not eat just the batter and save yourself some money.

              Except fried clams, that makes sense. ;-)

              1. re: yumyum

                Heh - fried claws & tail in a buttered and grilled new england style roll. With melted butter to dip into. Like a clam roll.

          2. re: zap64

            A word on Neptune's hot, buttered lobster roll. They mean it when they say buttered. In fact, it's probably a little too much butter for my taste. You know when you eat something reeeeaaalllyy rich and your throat kind of closes up? That happens. That said, the lobster is fantastic and so is the bread and it's perfectly prepared, but a word of caution is helpful I think.

          3. I agree with zap64. Neptune is my hands down favorite for lobster rolls. And warm with butter is my preferred.

              1. It is a destination spot for many, especially those in the City, but Kelly's lobster roll is the best, most generous New England-style lobster roll in the northeast. I try them all, and am always disappointed with Kelly's as my litmus.


                1. The good news is...you just had the best lobster roll in boston. The bad news is....it's only downhill from here...

                  1. I've been meaning to report a lobster roll experience I had in Reading. There's a new seafood market that opened a few weeks ago called Twin Seafood. I must say my husband and I have a new favorite seafood place. We both ordered the lobster sandwich (it was more of a sandwich rather than a roll since the bread was in two pieces). The serving was massive (And we've had our share of lobster rolls). Combined with the clam chowder we both ordered, there was actually too much lobster for us to finish and we had to take some home (a first for us). Not too much mayo, the gentlemen behind the counter asked if we wanted our buns grilled, and the side of fries was cooked perfectly. If you're ever in the main street area of Reading definitely check it out.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Ladycale

                      We also just tried Twin Seafood in Reading. We second the comments from Ladycale. The lobster was plentiful and tasty. We will definitely be back.

                    2. I actually started a similar experiment, Chicky. And, I also started out with B&G! I'm not going to post my comparisons until I've tried them all, though. Neptune's and Kelly's were already near the top of my "next to try" list. I never even thought of Skipjacks, but I'll give them a try, why not? Oh, yeah--I'm sure it won't rival the top choices, but I want to try Hook's as well.

                      1. The best lobster roll I've has is at Choate Bridge Pub in Ipswich. Buttered, toasted roll, big chunks of lobster, and I don't remember much, if any, filler.

                        1. Was it my imagination or did East Coast Grill have a lobster roll on their brunch menu this morning?

                          1. Has anyone tried lobster rolls at LTK near WTC?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: fatbully

                              Am I living in another time zone? What is LTK near WTC? Is everyone supposed to know this? Thanks.

                              1. re: CocoDan

                                I think it's Legal's Test Kitchen near the World Trade Center.

                            2. Add Alive and Kicking (Putnam Sreet Cambridge) to your list.

                              1. Am I the only one that has had the wonderful lobster roll at Belle Isle Seafood in East Boston on Saratoga St. on the Winthrop Line? The meat of 2 lobsters with a little mayo, lettuce on a toasted bun!! Yummm!! And I believe the price is 14 or 15.99!! The biggest and best I've ever had! They also sell all the fish and shellfish that they have on the menu, raw in case you want to cook your own! LOL!! Just a little joint, basicly take-out!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: CaroleL

                                  Thank Carole - This is just the type of recommendation I"m looking for. Places a bit off the beaten path that only seasoned 'hounds might know about. Thanks for your help. I'll be sure to let you all know how it goes.


                                2. I know you're looking for recs from Hounds, but I thought the "Lobster Blowout" issue of July's Boston magazine was interesting. One of the articles covers 15 different lobster rolls, from Belle Isle to Rachel's Kitchen. The B&G roll is on the cover, and there's some more mouth-watering pics including Neptune's hot buttered lobster roll, along with a nice nod to one of my favorite bargains at J. Hooks.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Rubee

                                    Oops, a correction - it's Skipjack's lobster roll on the cover.

                                  2. Has anyone tried Yankee Lobster's lobster rolls? How do they stack up against w/ Belle Isle's?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: fatbully

                                      At Yankee Lobster this past Sunday, I found...$14.95 for the lobster roll, fries and cole slaw. The roll was a lightly toasted hotdog bun that traveled well in styrofoam take-out box. The salad was medium-sized chunks of lobster held together with just enough mayo so that it wasn't a drippy mess (about 1/4 pound of lobster meat in each sandwich, they said). Little to no seasoning in the lobster salad, so I added some Frank's at home for a salty and hot kick. It would have been delicious without it, but I was at home, and I had it right there, soo...

                                      Served with fries and cole slaw. Cole slaw was crunchy and not too sweet(which translates as "great" to me); also came with huge portion of fries that were good, not great, but definitely fried in fresh oil (hate when fish places don't change their oil often enough and use same fryolator for fish and fries..yuck).

                                      I also noticed that littlenecks and oysters on the half-shell (you can eat-in there) were $1.50/per, but I'll have to try them and the other fishmonger wares there another time. Indoor dining room was simple, and 3/4 packed on a sunny Sunday at noon. Absolutely a place to experience a barebones, seaport-flavored taste of Boston.

                                    2. PLEASE NOTE: A new thread has been started in the New England forum to discuss non-Boston area lobster roll options http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                        Well that's fine, but I am still interested in recommendations covering the greater Boston area.....thank you.

                                        1. The Sherborn Inn has a tasty lobster sandwich a la BLT style. Bacon and lobster, together again.

                                          1. First, let me thank everyone who responded to my post (both here and at my personal email). Based on your feedback I will NOT wait unitl the end of summer to provide an update on the Lobsta Safari. Reports will come in as time allows over the summer.

                                            PS: I may add the Bonfire Lobster Taco to the list. Has anyone been recently? Is Heather still there? Really the only two reasons to visit that place.

                                            Happy Fourth to all!

                                            1. b&g oysters by far. open kitchen is hot. chef greg is amazing and the staff are always friendly and on point.

                                              1. The Rachel's Kitchen lobster roll is pretty good and not too expensive as lobster rolls go (less than $15 if I recall correctly). It's a warm roll with butter and chives on a grilled brioche. Problem is, they only serve it on Friday.

                                                1. If you get down to the cape, it's worth looking for the Chart Room Restaurant on Red Brook Harbor in Cataumet. They serve a huge lobster sandwich on fresh sliced protugese bread, not a lobster 'roll' technically - served with a lettuce leaf and little or no mayo from my memory (I'm not a mayo fan). It's big enough to split with a friend while sampling crab cakes or another item.

                                                  1. I just had the lobster roll from Hook's for lunch. $10. I had expected mayo-smothered bits of lobster in a soaked-through bun.

                                                    It was much better than I thought it would be. Pre-made, yes, but a good amount of fresh lobster chunks, lightly dressed, some thin celery and cabbage in the dressing--enough to add a little crunch, but not too much. Only the bottom of the roll (split top hot dog bun) was sliiiightly soggy.

                                                    1. Dear Alcachofa: Strange as it may seem, I too was there for lunch today. And I concur. Hooks is a great find and at only $10 a value. I didnt notice the cabbage but the reserved use of celery and mayo was welcome. I arrived promptly at noon so the roll was not soggy. Pre-made rolls may not appeal to everyone but the good size serving of lobster made this visit a real treat.

                                                      1. Tried the lobster roll at the Paramount this weekend - sorely dissapointed. While usually excelling in all things sandwiched or rolled, the Paramount fell short. NE style hotdog bun was butter grilled, and the roll was teaming with lobster, but it was also teaming with mayonaise. $16.

                                                        Also tried the twin special at Charlie's in Harvard a while back. Two lobster rolls for $11 with fries. Outrageous deal - the rolls were just ok. The lobster meat was shredded, instead of left in chunks, which was a downer for me.

                                                        Second the recs for Kelly's, Neptune and Alive & Kicking.

                                                        1. Besides being mediocre overall (I mean, what can we expect at that price?) I've found Charlie's lobster rolls to be over-salted.

                                                          1. Chicky, last year I read an article that claimed the following had THE BEST lobstah roll:

                                                            Alive and Kicking Lobsters
                                                            269 Putman Avenue

                                                            Never been there - but I LOVE them, so I will look forward to your "Report" in September, after you've made your rounds!!

                                                            I MAY have to ry Neptune soon though. Have been there before and LOVE it. But never tried the L-roll...

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: momscookin

                                                              I added this one to the list a few pages ago.

                                                              I'll be interested to hear a recent review of this place, too. I've gotten lobsters to take home from there before, but never the lobster roll....

                                                              1. re: momscookin

                                                                I have some pictures and comments on Alice & Kicking here: http://community.livejournal.com/bost...

                                                                Of note, the price was up to $10.95 in July. Taste wise it was great, but for the price, you're not getting a ton of lobster meat.

                                                                1. re: jenga

                                                                  I would not expect to get a lot of lobster meat for $10.95. I have seen picked lobster meat for $50 per pound lately.

                                                                  1. re: Wineack

                                                                    agreed! i was just noting that the price has gone up from the $8.99 it was when it was reviewed in the boston phoenix, and that size-wise i didn't find it filling. however, it is a lovely sandwich.

                                                              2. It's not really a roll at Alive & Kicking as has been mentioned. It's bread that's buttered and toasted (I think), so you get a little bit of a grilled bun effect but obviously not the real deal. Good amount of lobster, good price (I think it went up a dollar since I got one at $9.95).

                                                                As far as fried lobster goes, I've never seen it in a roll but did get a plate at Seafood Sam's in Sandwich once. It did seem kind of wrong to fry delicious lobster meat but I liked it and might get it again some time. I think Essex might have it on their menu.

                                                                1. As for fried lobster, I recall years ago having "lobster fritters" with (I think) a balsamic reduction at a little place in the North End. Terra Mia, I think.

                                                                  1. Billy's Famous Roast Beef on Main St on the Melrose/Wakefield line. $16 or $18.00, comes with fries. Toasted bun, not too much mayo, last one I ordered seemed to have the whole lobster in there.


                                                                    1. Went to Rachael's Kitchen yesterday but unfortunately I was about 5 minutes too late, they had just ran out of lobster rolls. Went over to James Hook and was very pleased with their $10.00 lobster roll, it was very tasty and a great value. I also didn't detect the presence of cabbage just a little mayo and celery.

                                                                      1. I thought Jasper White's is pretty good, a "cold lobster salad" type, the lobster and roll are good quality and he used a bit of tarragon which was a nice addition.

                                                                        I actually got a lobster roll at Charley's Kitchen, they have such an intriguing menu, but it wasn't good - mainly the lobster didn't seem freshly boiled (soggy and not bright-white being the gory details).

                                                                        1. It's great to see so many lobstah roll fans. I too am a great fan of the lobstah roll. I was up in Ogunquit Maine, and had a few up there, and must say that they don't compare to some of the rolls I have had in Boston.
                                                                          Yes, B & G is great, but for $24 it's pricy. The pickles and fries that accompany are awesome though. My favorite is Neptune Oyster, both their hot and cold versions. Second is Kally's on Revere Beach. Third is B & G, fourth would be Skipjack's and 5th is Legals.
                                                                          I don't recommend the one at Atlantic Fish Company - mine had no flavor. And though Hook's $10 roll is delicious, it is pretty small - I could eat 2 easily! Barking Crab has a decent roll also.

                                                                          1. I'm reposting my reply to the BELLE ISLE SEAFOOD thread for all lobsta lovers to read. I am off to an over priced sea-side resort for several weeks and will be sending a full update when I return.....

                                                                            As part of the Lobsta Safari I went down to Belle Isle to check things out. Lobster role was large with a lightly toasted bun - there were grill marks on the bun but it wasnt really toasted. Light on the mayo. Didnt much care for the one leaf of iceberg used an a mositure barrier between the lobster and the bun. All claw meat but lots of it and for $15 w/ fries it's a very good deal. Not the best but pretty good if you're in the area. On the night I was there, they had a salmon special both cooked and in the ice case. The salmon didnt look great but other items looked very fresh. It appears to be popular with the local cops so it cant be too bad.

                                                                            1. FWIW I like the roll at Courthouse Seafood in Cambridge. Its $12.95 and although I think its a bit smaller than some others, they definately put a lot of meat -- no celery. I got plenty of tail meat instead of just claws and from what I can tell it was mixed to order. They grill the bun lightly, but no butter. Comes with fries, but their fries are about the only thing not worth ordering. They also have a fried oyster special for $8.95 and I was really tempted to ask them to make me a Po Boy, but chickened out.

                                                                              I think Legal's roll is pretty good too, but it comes with a lot less meat than the courthouse roll for a higher price, lots of celery though.

                                                                              1. I have to put a plug in for Stonewall kitchen, in York.

                                                                                They have a lobster BLT, that it really fresh and has tons of lobster. The addition of bacon, lettuce & tomato on brioche, was a nice change from the ordinary hot dog roll.

                                                                                I would recommend it, for a different experience. Yummy.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: mcel215

                                                                                  I think fried lobster rolls originated on the Jersey shore. I've never had one but they are all over Long Beach Island. Maybe next year. ;)

                                                                                  My personal favorite is with butter. I used to eat lobster rolls with mayo as a kid (and loved them) but they are so much better with butter!

                                                                                2. i don't know if it's too far away, but i had a quite perfect lobster roll at the Oxford Creamery in Mattapoisett. it was $10,
                                                                                  fresh, tender BIG chunks of lobster, a little mayo, some fresh green leaf lettuce, all on a grilled hotdog roll!! it was so so good - exactly what a lobster roll is supposed to be in my book..

                                                                                  1. Top Dog, a hotdog place in Rockport, has a good one.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: weaver

                                                                                      Lobster Pool's roll is 13.95 with no celery. They're very proud of that fact.

                                                                                    2. I was at the bar at No9 Park last night and the woman sitting next to me said she had just finished dinner at the Federalist where she had a lobster roll and loved it. I have not been but thought maybe some one else could confirm or dispute this.

                                                                                      1. Last Wednesday had the Lobster Roll ($16) at Belle Isle in Winthrop. It was absolutely SUPERB ! Chunks and chunks of LOBSTA !! You know how it is, once you have some lobster the craving sticks for awhile. Well, Saturday I went to the Barking Crab. What a disappointment. I felt as though I was eating some imitation crabmeat loaded with mayo. Little bits of meat that were very stringy. They should be ashamed of themselves to serve it never mind charge $18.

                                                                                        1. A couple more: Rachel's Kitchen, $14, comes with a bag of chips. Hot buttered lobster chunks. Quite large. Good stuff. I do prefer the classic style to this hot buttered style, though.

                                                                                          Summer Shack, $16. OK, but not for the price. I thought Hook's was better, dollar-for-dollar, as it was about the same amount of lobster.

                                                                                          1. Rowands Seafood, under the Beverly Salem Bridge on the Beverly side. $10. Made right there. Best fish market around for MILES BTW.