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Lobster Roll Report

Just back from 2 weeks in NYC and went to Pearl Oyster Bar twice and Ed's Lobster Bar once. I had the lobster roll each time. Frankly I don't understand why Ed's is criticized so much on the board, it was incredible. I would say that Pearl was overall slightly better but they were both so good it is almost like splitting hairs. Here are the differences I noticed:

Pearl uses a little more mayo. The lobster at Ed's had an infintessimal amount of coating. Can you do electroplating with mayo? At Ed's there is a pound of lobster meat with a teaspoon of mayo and at Pearl it is a tablespoon. I think the slightly larger amount is better, but again it is splitting hairs.

Ed's roll was more buttery (buttery-er?). In fact, it tasted almost caramelized. Mmm, I can still taste it, it was that good. The first pearl visit I thought the roll was buttery (in fact, I remember thinking "how can it be this buttery with the lobster sitting on it?") but then I went to Ed's and it was much more so. Then when I returned to Pearl it didn't seem so buttery the second time; maybe Ed's spoiled me.

The lobster in the Ed's roll was a little bit chewier. I wonder if it was slightly overcooked. It wasn't bad, just a little chewy. When I went back to Pearl the second time the lobster was still tender, not chewy.

The fries at Ed's are good. Maybe very good. The fries at Pearl are to die for. When I read "matchstick fries" on the chowhound boards, I thought they would be like those crispy potato sticks. nope, they were french fries, and they were perfection.

All in all, a tough call to pick the better one. Ed's was not crowded, Pearl was crowded both times. So if you want to sit without waiting, go to Ed's.

I saw someone at another table eating steamers at Pearl and I was jealous - but I know that even if I lived around the corner and ate at Pearl every day I wouldn't be able to pass up ordering that lobster roll. Maybe I can get the steamers as an appetizer next time!

Anyone try making the lobster roll at home? How does it come out? The recipe is in the cookbook.

Thanks to everyone for their advice. I would not have known about Pearl if it weren't for chowhound.

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  1. i think im gonna try ed's this weekend...

    best lobster roll for me? oddly enough, michael jordan's steakhouse.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sam1

      I am always forced to decide what to eat as an app along w/my lobster roll (at Pearl's) because I can't NOT order the lobster roll! I usually get the fried oysters, but I love steamers & should order them sometime! Just seems like a rather large bucket for 1 gal to eat pre-roll!

      1. re: julesj66

        It's not bad for 1 gal, I do it :)

        Steamers (sometimes also oysters) and the loster roll. It's yum!

    2. As a single diner, do you think there is a time (lunch or dinner) that I could go to Pearl when it wouldn't be so crowded?

      Wonderful report by the way.

      3 Replies
        1. re: Scagnetti

          Lunch isn't usually too difficult for a single diner sitting at the counter. I've gone solo for lunch, have gotten there before 12:30 & have gotten a counter seat w/out a problem. For dinner - I've only gone on a weekend eve, but that I would agree to be there when they open! Lunch is a great time to go if you can get there!

          1. re: Scagnetti

            I went as a single diner both times and waited only about ten minutes each time. I sat at the bar the first time (lunch) and at the counter the other time. Both times I was seated next to another single diner and had some conversation with them. One of them had brought a new yorker mag. and it made me wish I had done that. So even if you got at a busy time, you may get a seat rather quickly. I was initially hesitant to go alone - I don't usually like dining alone - but I'm very glad I did and would gladly go alone in the future. Alas, I may have to wait a year for my next nyc trip...

          2. I agree with atjsfo, that I can't decide which one I like better. I have been to Ed's several times and am always incredibly pleased with the lobster roll. It just melts in your mouth in the best way possible. Since I live around the corner from Ed's it is now my go to destination for a lobster roll fix. Plus I really like the New England-type bar and the wines are good too.

            1. Can I add that I give extra brownie points to Ed's (and Mary's Fish Camp) for being extra friendly, accomodating and nice. The owner at Pearl has a reputation (which I think she's lived up to) for being a bit difficult. I like the relaxed atmosphere at Ed's and Mary's more...the lobster rolls and fries taste so good at all of them...!

              1 Reply
              1. re: gramercyfoodie

                My two cents: Though Ed’s loaded more meat on the roll than Pearl or Mary’s, it was a bit chewy and the hot dog bun didn’t reach the same perfection of crunch that characterized Mary’s hot dog bun. As the roll cooled off, the hot dog bun got soggy as did the fries. The most refreshing thing about the roll was its lack of mayo. More here: http://gooberett.wordpress.com/tag/ne...

              2. Just had the roll at Ed's last weekend. It was good, but I have to say, I still prefer Pearl's, like some people mentioned, I think the meat was a bit chewier and it was def dressed lighter than POB (I'm a mayo fan), which for some might be a plus.

                As for Mary's, only went once, and will never go back, as I had the worst customer service experience in my life (wrote about it on chowhound a while back) from Mary herself.

                Never had a problem with service at POB, servers are rushed yes, but no attitude like Mary's servers and Mary.