B&G versus Neptune
I hope no one objects to my starting a new thread; I just didn't want this to get lost in some of the other threads in which it is being discussed.
A few months ago, when a New York hound was coming to Boston, he posted looking for a place in Boston that was comparable to Pearl Oyster Bar in Manhattan. We sent him to B&G, and based on that discussion, I took it upon myself to do a back-to-back of the two places. My report, in which I detail why -- as much as I like BOTH places -- I prefered B&G, can be found in this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
In that thread, and in this more recent one -- http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... -- fans of Neptune Oyster have suggested that Neptune, not B&G, is the place to go in Boston for lobster rolls. I was not in a position to comment, as I had never been to Neptune before -- until now: a friend of mine and I went to Neptune for lunch today, and I am now in a position to comment.
First, let me say that, regardless of the comparison with B&G, Neptune is a great place. It's a casual place; in terms of atmosphere, it is closer to Pearl Oyster Bar in NY than it is to B&G. (I consider B&G to be a more upscale place dressed down to appear more casual than it really is.) I had dinner at Neptune on Saturday night (but not the lobster roll; they were sold out), and enjoyed it very much.
But on to the lobster roll. B&G still gets my vote. And just like the comparison between Pearl and B&G, for me it wasn't close.
I had the hot lobster roll at Neptune (my friend had the cold, but I did not try it; I absolutely will try the cold on my next visit to Neptune to complete the picture). Both the hot and the cold include generous amounts of lobster in large chunks. Among the three -- Neptune, B&G and Pearl -- Neptune clearly is the biggest, and includes the largest pieces of lobster. But unlike B&G and Pearl, both of which use a traditional Pepperidge Farm roll, Neptune uses a brioche roll, and although the quality of the roll was good, I found that it detracted from my enjoyment of the lobster roll. I think the Pepperidge Farm roll is a good choice because it's neutral -- it has essentially no impact on the taste of the lobster roll. Neptune's brioche roll, on the other hand is flavorful, too much so in my mind. Beyond that, I found that the hot buttered lobster roll was too different of a product to make meaningful comparisons to the mayo-based roll at B&G and Pearl, except to say that I like the B&G roll best: I still like how their roll is all about the lobster, with very little to distract from that.
As I said, I didn't try Neptune's cold mayo-based lobster roll. In terms of the quantity of mayo, it looked more like the Pearl roll than the B&G (again, I really like the small amount of mayo used in the B&G roll). And of course Neptune's cold roll is served on the same brioche roll that the hot one is served on. But I promise to go back and give it a try.
Please don't misunderstand me. The Neptune roll is great, as is the Pearl roll. I just prefer the B&G roll better. Having now eaten lobster rolls and non-lobster-roll meals at all three places, it is my view that all three are great -- I will happily return to all three -- but B&G is just at a different level. This is true not just of the lobster roll, but the other food I've tried as well. I think B&G really benefits from Barbara Lynch's fine touch.
BTW, for those keeping score on the french fries, I think Neptune wines on that front. But all three places serve different style fries, so that's a matter of style more than anything else.
Well this all has visions of lobster rolls dancing in my head! I suspect a visit to B&G and/or Neptune is lurking in my near future (probably a hot lobster roll considering the weather, that will be a first for me). Did you bring your daughter to B&G and Neptune?
Thanks very much for the good and fun comparative reviews.