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Feb 11, 2007 05:36 AM

Are there hot lobster rolls in Maine or New Hampshire?

We had to change our New England vacation plans from October to July. Will miss the foliage season but on the other hand, more places will be open for us to have lobster rolls at. We will be in Brunswick ME for four days, and Portsmouth NH for two days. I like lobster rolls that are served hot instead of with mayo - are there any places near Brunswick or Portsmouth that serve them hot?

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  1. I don't know of any places off hand, but there must be a few. For some reason the hot lobster roll is very popular in Connecticut, but the rest of New England favors the cold mayo variety.

    1. The first time I ever heard of and tried the hot buttery variety was at a lobster pound outside of Portland ME. They had both to choose from. I can't say which one as it was some years ago and someone else was doing the driving....but I would guess it's probably common.

      1. Hot lobster rolls are not common in these parts...I can't recall seeing this offered. What you will find at some places is the option to get butter on your roll (versus mayo) but the lobster meat itself is cold.

        Once Chowhound's search function is will find *lots* of info on specific places offering lobster rolls in Maine.

        1. It's not a real New England lobster roll if it is hot. Authentic lobster rolls are served cold with mayo. I grew up in New England and in 21 years never had a hot lobster roll. I would enjoy the lobster rolls as they are meant to be and have a delicious steamed lobster served hot. The tomatoes and corn should be good then as well. Enjoy!

          16 Replies
          1. re: baseballfan

            You may have never baseballfan but sadly they exist, mostly in Ct. & R.I. But what would you expect considering the way those folks desecrate a good clam chowdah. The only place in Maine that I'm aware of serving hot/warm lobster rolls as well as the righteously proper way is The Lobster Dock in Boothbay.

            1. re: Harp00n

              I feel your pain in regards to the chowder. Now I am craving some which is a bad thing since I now live in S.F. Bay area where real chowder is hard to come by.

              1. re: baseballfan

                It may not be a fair trade-off but Abalone ain't bad :-)

            2. re: baseballfan

              Hmm, maybe so. But the now departed Scales (which was in the now-departed Portland Public Market) served a hot lobster roll, and it was by far the best I've had anywhere around here. I bet some of the upscale places might still do it. A hot lobster roll = (ideally) a fresh, juicy lobster that's just been cooked, still redolent of the sea. A cold lobster roll = lobster that's been sitting in the fridge, and has lost much of its flavor and juices. I'm relatively new to the area, having lived here about 3 years, but I don't really care what the local tradition is: I'd take a fresh hot lobster roll over the cold variety (even one that's chock full of meat like Red's) any day.

              1. re: Dan S.

                Since there are plenty of shacks in Maine that use previously frozen lobster, I would be hard-pressed to believe that some "hot" lobster shacks in Ct. & R.I. don' t practice that same sleigh-of-hand also. We all have a right to our addictions, yours just happens to be in the minority in Ma., N.H., Vt. & Me. :-)

                1. re: Harp00n

                  It's funny - I never even thought about it until reading this topic. I just remember how great the lobster roll was at Scales - and you had to wait for it. There is no way that was a previously frozen lobster. I haven't gone looking for it elsewhere. I do note that up here, when it comes to lobster rolls, there seems to be a general preference for quantity over quality. People seem to think the best lobster roll has the most lobster, no matter how cold and flavorless it might be. I've always had a sort of "This is it?" response to the rolls at Red's Eats - but they sure are big!

                  1. re: Dan S.

                    With out getting too far into playing Inspector Clouseau, how do you "know" it wasn't previously frozen? It takes time to carefully heat lobster meat whether it fresh or previously frozen. We've all had, what should be an impeachable offense, tough lobster. I'm not saying Scales was guilty of doing so. The point is, I have no way of divining that information

                    A classic Maine lobster roll is the juxtaposition of lightly chilled, still flavorful,
                    not cold, lobster meat and a still warm, grilled-in-butter split-top Nissen hot dog roll. To which may be added; a light treatment of a good mayonnaise i.e. Hellmann's or Cain's and, possible, a little diced celery. And for god's sakes, no Miracle Whip! Some people like it with warm melted butter in lieu of going the mayo route which simply means they're loyalties reside somewhere between Ct. & Me., IMO.

                    The bigger is better phenomenon is spurred by on by the entreprenurial Mainer filling the tourists demands at a hefty price.You'll see very few natives wolfing down an over-sized, over-priced roll. It's my contention that any lobsterman's 16 year old daughter can make a more than good Maine-style lobster roll. It ain't rocket science it's the ingredients. BTW,.Red's is Maine's answer, and I'll get skewered for saying this, to the Black Dog Tavern.

                    1. re: Harp00n

                      Well, I don't think the difference between fresh picked lobster and frozen lobster is that subtle. And since Scales sold live lobsters anyway, not sure why they'd take the time and effort to reheat frozen lobster for their rolls. It was also kind of pricey, at $17.95. But the juices, redolent of the sea, were of the sort that I maintain simply could not have come out of a formerly frozen lobster - guess I just trust my taste buds on this one.

                      1. re: Dan S.

                        Well I'm sure you can and as I'd said, I'm not saying Scales was doing so. As to the why (would anyone do that) cheaper Canadian frozen/profit margin is why, unfortunately. Btw, $17.95 is a little more than 'kind of pricey" IMO.:-)

                    2. re: Dan S.

                      Yo - gotta second Dan's experience at Scales - their roll was the best I've had by far. To bad they went away. I don't even want to eat a "classic" lobster roll anymore - they are OK I guess, but $12 for lobster with mayo in a hotdog bun - I'll pass most of the time.

                      I think having a lobster roll is so enmeshed with people's experience of summertime in Maine that it doesn't need to be all that in itself - I certainly have associations with food that make the food taste better (e.g. McVities Hobnobs remind me of London).

                      Anyway - I hope Scales makes a comeback, I'll be first in line unless Dan here beats me to it!

                      1. re: lobsterboy

                        Most of us, I think, eat Maine-style lobster rolls precisely because we like them that way. Not some evocation of the smell of the salt-spray or the sound of gulls whirling overhead in The Maine Summer. This is a sophisticated bunch of New Englanders on this board with lots of year round seafood options. Hell, some of us will even admit to having tried chowdah with, gasp, tomato. That is, if you shove the bamboo shoots deep enough into the old cuticles. We love the contrasting sensation of cool, sweet & succulent lobster and the warm butter-toasted bun. Btw, I wish that roll could be accompanyed by the Pride of Kent; Shepherd Neame's Spitfire ale. But since it can't, I'll have another Geary's, please.

                      2. re: Dan S.

                        I'm one of those people who subtitles their vacation to Maine as the search for the perfect lobster roll. But we also like to have a place near home that is perfect for a Sunday afternoon drive to a place with a great lobster roll and fried onion rings. We used to like the Tamarack until it seemed like there was more langostinos in the roll than lobster and switched to visiting Red Hill Dairy in Moultonboro. Although we spent a week in Wiscasset last summer we did not eat at Reds. The next to traffic location is not our idea of a pleasant place to lunch. On Maine vacations we tend to alternate steamed lobster (favorite place is Waterman's Beach) with lobster rolls, trying to find a new place each vacation. Last summer we "discovered" Just Barb's in Stockton Springs which also met my husband's idea of a perfect casual local restaurant. Part of the appeal of the perfect lobster roll search is discovering a new place and comparing it to other lobster rolls. Last summer I gave extra points to places with a great piece of pie (preferably rhubarb). But we also appreciate the chance to eavesdrop and sometimes compare notes with other diners. Our first visit to Waterman's beach was highlighted by a story being told at the next table, full of local Downeast humor. The best lobster roll tastes like the meat has just been freshly picked and not refrigerated. I have used frozen lobster meat at home and think it changes the texture of the meat and the flavor is not so pronounced. I'm also the kind of cook who never refrigerates tomatos. I think one of the poorest lobster rolls I had was at a local place we love for fried clams and rare roast beef sandwiches. Unfortunately, the lobster was much too cold. The last time I made lobster rolls at home I had the local supermarket steam live lobsters for me. The meat was refrigerated more than 24 hours. My rolls were very good so possibly the age of the meat has something to do with it and maybe the amount of salt in the cooking water or how quickly the lobster is cooked. D'Angelo sub shops offer lobster sandwiches at certain times of the year but I find them tasteless. As far as fresh steamed lobster, we notice that some are tastier/sweeter than others. I read recently that once lobsters are in a tank they stop eating and that effects the taste. That would explain why the fresh off the boat lobster usually tastes best. We've had hard shelled, soft shelled, and my BIL thinks there's more meat in males than females (or maybe I have it backwards). We think a 1 1/4 is a good size, making it worth the effort to dig the extra bit of meat from the body where the legs are attached ... but of course, doing this seated at a picnic table next to the water makes you want to stay a bit longer for both the lobster and the view. BTW my in-laws used to sell sweet corn from the family vegetable garden. The money they earned was saved until the end of the summer when the whole family went out for lobster. It was considered a big, special treat back in the day went eating in a restaurant wasn't done very often. For my husband, lobster was a special treat and now he's glad we can afford to have it more often.

                          1. re: Harp00n

                            Interesting post--I have a friend who grew up in Blue Hill and her claim is that lobster never was a big deal--her mom used to serve it with potato chips when she didn't feel like cooking.

                            1. re: whs

                              ......and probably served
                              crabmeat salad sandwiches at least as often:-)

                2. Wiscasset is about 20 miles away from Brunswick, and it's a very cute little town worth visiting on its own. There is a great little lobster shack there called Red's that serves lobster rolls with hot melted butter.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: melon

                    No, unfortunately, OP doesn't mean hot /warm butter. He means the lobster it's self :-)