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Questions about Kelly's Roast Beef and Chez Henri

I'm a SF hound visiting Boston for three days end of this months. I'm doing reasearch about your fine area and wanted to definitely try a lobster roll (never had one in my life!)
Looks like Kelly's is well received here. I want to meet up with a few friends for dinner. Does Kelly have inside sitting? Or is it strictly a take-out?

My other choice, if not Kelly's, is Chez Henri for its bar seating Cuban sandwiches. On a Friday or Saturday night, will we wait long? Is there a good place to wait if we have to?

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  1. I'd skip Kelly's and do the Cubano instead. It's a great sandwich. Great great. If you get there early you'll not have a huge wait -- I'd be more concerned about seating. I don't know how many people will be in your party, but the cubano is only served in the bar area and there are only a few tables. If you are 4 or fewer I think you'll be okay.

    If you really need a lobster roll, I'd suggest Neptune oyster in the North End.

    1. While I don't think Kelly's is the be all, end all of roast beef jonts (I'm probably going to get beaten for saying that) I think that the way they do an RB sandwhich is a regional thing and maybe not available in the SF area, so I would keep in on the agenda. There are several Kelly's locations (http://www.kellysroastbeef.com/) and most of them do have indoor seating.

      Second Neptune for the lobster roll, my preference is the warm version w/ butter on the side.

      1. I like the lobster roll at Kelly's in Revere better than Neptune's hot or cold. The difference was the quality of the lobster--otherwise, not much difference to me. Even Natick's Kelly's is at least as good as Neptune's, but not much for atmosphere, although there's lots of seating. Their roast beef is good but salty. Not sure if Kelly's in Revere has any seating, but at least it's on the ocean.

        1. The whole point, for me, of Kelley's in Revere is to go on a nice day, buy a sandwich, walk across the street and eat it on the beach. The atmosphere adds that certain something.

          1. The two are entirely different experiences -- Chez Henri is a hip, hopping bar with great food (including that Cubano, which I totally endorse) -- as yumyum says, do get there early, as it's mostly bar seating, with limited table space for parties larger than 2.

            Kelly's in Revere is a takeout window at the beach, no indoor seating. I definitely agree that you want to go on a nice day, sit at the beach, and watch the birds fight for crumbs. I actually had the lobster roll there this week, and I can report that it's damn good -- a REALLY abundant amount of lobster, lightly dressed with mayo and a tiny bit of celery (I guess some people object to celery, I think it adds a nice crunch), on a buttered and toasted bun. Only complaint is that it was a little on the salty side, but the sweet lobster taste still came through. There was enough lobster (tail and plenty of claw meat) that I was able to make a nice lobster club sandwich for dinner with the leftovers, which took some of the sting out of paying 17 bucks for lunch. The Kelly's in Natick does indeed have seating, but it pretty much feels like a fast-food place, pretty sterile for an evening out.

            Haven't made it to Neptune yet, but the other swanky-restaurant lobster roll in town is at B&G Oysters in the South End. Awfully pricey at 24 bucks (although in line with the rest of the high-priced menu), but it IS lobster and the fries that come with are pretty great.

            1. why come all the way across the country to eat frozen lobster meat that you can get in CA? Get yourself a lobster dinner in the shell. While i cant speak for the boston places, I can tell you for sure that Kellys is using frozen or canned lobster meat.

              10 Replies
              1. re: hargau

                "For sure"? How do you know? I can say that the lobter meat in my roll certainly didn't *taste* canned or frozen. What makes you so sure?

                1. re: MichaelB

                  I know people who have worked there, as well as Dairy Joy and a number of the local places. Even when I was in Boothbay harbor Maine a few weeks ago most places were using canned/frozen in their rolls. I watched a frozen food truck deliver a fully stacked 2 wheeler of frozen lobster meat to just about every place on the main strip. It just isnt economical for these places in Maine to take a lobster that they can serve boiled with a thimble of butter for $14, then add a roll, lettuce, mayo, labor to pick it apart and try to sell it in a lobster roll for $10-$14.. Simple economics.

                  As for kellys a big clue is if a place is selling alot of lobster rolls and does not sell lobster dinners or have a tank of live lobsters around. Where do you think the lobster is coming from? And who is sitting there and cracking lobsters and picking the meat out????

                  They have a crab roll too do you think they are boiling crabs out back and picking out the meat for them? How about the turkey sandwhich?......

                  1. re: hargau

                    For starters, it is NEVER canned lobster. Canned has a distinct mushey taste that is unmistakeable. You can't pass that off in a lobster roll.

                    Also, just because they deliver it on a truck does not mean it is frozen. Thought frozen lobster is not bad.

                    Furthermore, in New England, you can buy very nice, fresh, picked lobster meat from any number of good seafood purveyors. Noone running a seafood shack is going to have staff sitting around picking lobster meat out of bodies and claws in their crammed, busy kitchens.

                    In fact, I would bet 90%+ of the lobster rolls at even Farnams, Essex Seafood, and elsewhere is not actually picked on the premises.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      FACT: The lobster meat at dairy joy for a fact comes in 5 gallon cans. A friend used to make them.

                      FACT: The truck i watched unload in boothbay at each place on the main street was unloading white boxes with blue printing on the side of each labeled FROZEN LOBSTER MEAT! About 8 boxes per restaurant.

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        I don't see cows out back at any place I buy a hamburger either- that doesn't mean the beef is frozen.

                        FWIW I had a lobster roll from Kelly's in Saugus just this week. It didn't taste frozen to me, but it was nowhere near as good as the lobster roll I had at Choate Bridge Pub in Ipswich last year.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          As I said in my first post, the frozen does not taste bad.

                          The stuff that comes in those big 5 gallon cans for food service use is not necessarily "canned."

                          Canned to me implies packed and cooked under very high temp in a can and shelf stable.

                          The stuff in those big 5 gallon cans may in fact be locally picked fresh lobster that happens to be shipped in a big metal can. The key is whether the cans need to be refrigerated. If they keep them out at room temp then I stand corrected. I was never a huge fan of Dairy Joy for anything other than soft serve anyhow.

                    2. re: hargau

                      Because I've NEVER had a lobster roll and I really want to try one :)
                      The same can be said about ham and cheese sandwiches, aka a cuban sandwich. But I'm certainly taking everyone suggestion and will not be going to Kelly's.

                      1. re: OnceUponABite

                        I'm particularly partial to the roll at Neptune - you can't go wrong with either the hot-butter or the cold-mayo based. Both are delicious!

                        I just ate in the bar at Chez Henri last night. We had no wait for our table (3 of us at 7:30 - I think the gods were smiling) and the sandwich was DELICIOUS as always.

                        Enjoy your visit to Boston - and your first lobster roll!

                        1. re: heathermb

                          If you go for the hot lobster roll at Neptune, be sure to ask for the butter on the side. It can be a little much if they add the butter for you.

                      2. re: hargau

                        Kelly's at the beach is all about the overall experience. They might not have the freshest food (although I love most of what they sell there), but on a warm summer night, it's a great spot. Having said that, it was about 40 degrees this morning, so it definitely isn't Kelly's weather right now! ;-b

                      3. You can get Cubanos in any major city. The lobster roll being a bit more regional is probably the play here. B& G Oyster Bar is supposed to have great one almost all Lobster meat with very little filling.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Winemark

                          i've got to beg to differ... you can indeed get cubanos in any major city; that said, chez's is the best i've had anywhere outside of miami. and frickin' huge. every out of towner i've sent has come away with wide-eyed bliss. you can get pizza anywhere too, but i'd rather eat at regina than most others. isn't that the point of this board--to highlight places that go above and beyond? that is a serious sandwich--well made and authentic. plus, the plantain chips are addictive as all getout.

                        2. 28 Degrees in the South End has a nice lobster slider, (essentially the same thing as a roll). Given the name of the resto and the other comments on this board, I don't want to hazard a guess as to whether they use fresh New England lobster or canned slop from Argentina.

                          1. This spanky yankee who lived in the Bay Area for 10 years, says if you want a great lobster roll please go to Neptune's...while Kelly's is huge...it ain't exactly an awe inspiring environment. And a Big Mac may be huge but that doesn't make it great...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: tgsgirl

                              I'm not a huge fan of Kelly's but as others have said, there's definitely something about getting a lobster roll on the beach on a nice sunny day or warm nite. Which isn't gonna happen as often now, but might be worth the excursion if it's as good as recently reported. Eating at the other Kelly's restaurants isn't too exciting altho I read in the Globe that the Medford location is supposed to be a little more spiffy.

                              1. re: Joanie

                                The Kelly's in Medford is unusually spiffy. If the OP has never tried a clam roll, it'd be a good place to try one as well. I've been meaning to write up my visit to it a few weeks ago...
                                That said, I think the B&G lobster roll is the best so far (MHO).