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Can an inexpensive lobster roll be good?

I'm going to answer my own question and say yes. Now, I've had my fair share of $20+ lobster rolls and they have all been delicious. However, when it came to a lobster roll going for $10.95, I found myself apprehensive. My thought was how can they possibly offer a decent roll for that price. Well, Sonny's in Adams Village has been doing it this past week and I've ordered it twice. Served traditionally on a toasted hot dog roll, this sandwich was filled with sweet lobster, both tail and claw meat and very light on the mayo. I'm impressed!! You can have it with either potato salad or fruit. While, I like the potato salad at Sonny's I had the fruit, 2 large slices of cantalope and a good size piece of watermelon. I'm wondering if Sonny's might have some new people in the kitchen as well, because earlier in the week I had the steak and cheese wrap, which, while I've always thought it was pretty good, this time it was excellent. So, I just thought I would share -- Now does anyone else know of some good cheap lobster rolls?

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  1. Lobster sandwich (mayo on white bread) at Alive & Kicking is like $13 or so.

    1. Grumpy White's in Quincy. Their lobster rolls are $16 or $17 and they are sooooo delicious. Tons of lobster meat (falling out of the bun in fact) with a bit of mayo, served with fries. Just had one about 2 weeks ago. Yum.

      1. Okay, I know I'm seeking the wrath of chowers, but I confess I had a really great lobster roll at D'Angelo's, of all places. Loaded with claw and tail meat, sweet, not too much mayo, fresh lettuce. Yum! About $13. I was very pleasantly shocked!

        3 Replies
        1. re: chowciao

          I had my 2nd one at D'Angelo's last year and while the first one was pretty decent, the 2nd one was a bummer. I've seen tne lobster ads but haven't dared go back.

          1. re: chowciao

            I was just trying to get up the courage to also state how D'Angelo's had great "cheap" lobster rolls. I am not even sure they were 10 let alone 13. Well worth the price, loaded with meat, little mayo nice toasted roll.

            1. re: MeffaBabe

              I have to agree. While not on par with with the stellar rolls in the city, it is a decent fix at a decent price!

          2. I'm from RI, in MA at the moment... I've hauled pots, and cooked more lobster in the restaurants I used to work in than most people will eat in 4 lifetimes. And when the need arises, as it sometimes does, I go to Charlie's in Harvard Sq.... and get two for $10.95.

            G'head, pay $23.95 for one in the south end... I walk out satiated. Can you argue with me?

            2 Replies
            1. re: okra

              Yup, though all my uncles hauled pots, I did not... I think Charlie's hits the spot for flavor, but not texture. There's just not much lobster meat in them and most of it is shredded and the dressing (mayo) is really watery. The last time I had them it kind of grossed me out.

              I think the Alive & Kicking lobster sandwich on scali bread is a great value - not an overflowing roll, but real meat chunks.

              I don't mind paying $20 for an overflowing lobster roll (never mind how lobster prices skyrocketed this year) but that said, I think the B&G one is overrated.

              1. re: MB fka MB

                here here on B&G's being overrated.

            2. Let me add Charlie's Kitchen in Harvard Square (Eliot street?). Two, count em, two lobster rolls for $11. Not the best ever, but ask for the rolls to be grilled with butter, and they hit the spot.

              Note added in proof: A recent check of the menu states 1 lobster roll for $6.95 or a lobster melt with waffle fries for the same price.

              2 Replies
              1. re: gourmaniac

                OMG -- A lobster melt sounds wonderful!! That's even better than Sonny's, I'll have to find my way to Charlies!!

                1. re: gourmaniac

                  I had Charlie's lobster rolls, for some reason I remember the meat as "grey" - either the lobsters had been in the tank a while or the meat had been out of the lobsters for a while.

                  I've been wanting to try J. Hook's, they sound good.

                2. I noticed Kelly's Roast Beef offers a lobstah roll...anyone ever tried this one?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lovechild

                    Kelly's is good and probably the best in the area for its price ($17). I'm downright disgusted by my last attempt at Charlie's lobster roll special. Felt really ill afterwards. Maybe it was the beer. Just think it has too much mayonnaise.

                  2. I reported on a couple of cheap lobster rolls last year. The courthouse roll (now $12.95) would have been really excellent if they had buttered the bun and I prefer it to Alive n Kickin. Seafood Depot holds its own against Charlies but not as a destination and I am not certain what the price is this year (it was $8.45 at that post).

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/325097

                    (Meffababe has a point in that thread that Moulton's is more consistent than Seafood Depot, but when I can't go to a clam shack or Mike's, SD comes through on most fried items and I will eat their lobster roll again.

                    )

                    I have also been to some North Shore festivals which have lobster roll vendors, some good, some not so good. But that is the best experience when you can buy a roll and sit on the rocks eating it, whether it compares to a $26 roll or not.

                    1. I saw that on the menu and remembered ordering it last year and it being OK but not great. But I will def. try it if I see it on the menu again. Was there last night for trivia and it was still a menu item.

                      Adam is in Poland(?) on vacation for a while, so there are new people in the kitchen. The pizzas took 45 min to an hour to put out on Tuesday ....

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        Actually, it was yesterday that I had the lobster roll.. Paul (the bartender) had ordered it the week before and I thought it looked good so I went for it. I think the earlier crowd has better luck with the pizza. I'll generally order anywhere between 4:30 and 5:30 and find that even on $2 Tuesdays it takes about 15-20 minutes.

                      2. I think that sum pubs use Lobster rolls as loss leaders, thus you can get a good deal on a huge roll. Emma's comes to mind. As does Belle Isle Seafood

                        1. If you happen to be in Maine, you can get them for under $5 at McDonald's! They do have a little more mayo thn I prefer, but, all in all, they are not bad.

                          16 Replies
                          1. re: chysie

                            If you happen to be in Maine and are eating McLobsters, my deepest apologies go out to you. I don't know what you did to deserve that.

                            1. re: Chrispy75

                              Many of the cheaper lobster rolls are made with frozen lobster meat..not even close to fresh, imo. The texture and fresh taste is just not there. I would rather pay more for fresh. Legals has great lobster rolls.

                              1. re: beth grossman

                                I've heard J. Hook has great lobster rolls. You're definitely going to get fresh meat there.

                                1. re: beth grossman

                                  I rarely eat lobster rolls. I would rather get fresh lobster in the shell, especially if in maine. I agree that many used frozen or canned lobster meat in their rolls. Dairy Joy for one uses lobster meat that comes in a huge can. When i was in Booth bay harbor last summer (go every year) there was a truck delivering a hand truck load of frozen lobster meat cases to just about every place on the main drag. I Sat and watched him unload the cases clearly labled such.

                                  I am also leary of lobster rolls at lobster pounds or seafood stores. Ive been told by people who have worked in such places that when a lobster dies or is close to death in the tank then they are often boiled up to make into you guessed it... .lobster rolls.

                                  1. re: hargau

                                    It is often true that the lobsters that are dead or close to dead are made into lobster rolls. But as long as they remain refrigerated at the right temperature I believe the rule is that you have 24 hours to cook a dead lobster and still have it be safe.

                                    So any lobsters that were alive on a Friday night but dead on a Saturday morning get cooked up asap for lobster salad.

                                    1. re: MB fka MB

                                      Sorry, but there is no real rule of thumb about cooking and selling a dead lobster commercially, except don't get caught doing it by the Board of Health! Either alive and kicking or toss it out.

                                      But, privately in your own home, an expired lobster would be good for only about 6 hours. It then starts to decompose, and the meat turns to mush. If you want to test this out, then make sure you tuck the tail under and kind of sit the lobster in the pot. When the lobster is steamed, it should have a tightly curled tail, just like a live one. If the tail hangs limp, it's past it's prime and throw it out.
                                      Used to commercial lobster for many years, and have cooked some great lobster, that we couldn't sell, because they expired. Boy, with the price of lobster now, I can only dream of the summers when we had lobster almost nightly...darn.

                                      1. re: mcel215

                                        When I was a teenager, I used to go lobstering with my dad...we'd have so many some days, we'd give'm to the neighbors...sheesh...
                                        Of course, I didn't really like lobster back then. Maybe because, as with many things, my mother overcooked them...

                                2. re: Chrispy75

                                  Well, we live in Maine in the summer and they sell loster rolls at McDonald's. No apology required- they are surprisingly good for extremely cheap price although they are small.
                                  Had a Kelly's a couple of weeks ago and it was enormous and quite good.

                                  1. re: emilief

                                    I seem to remember some controversy about chain restaurants (Red Lobster for one) selling langostinos (aka squat lobsters, though they are more closely related to crabs than true lobsters) as "lobster", mostly in dishes where the meat is out of the shell, while the Maine lobster industry wanted them to identify them as such to avoid confusion with their costlier product, the Maine lobster (homarus Americanus). I wonder what creature is in the McDonald's lobster roll.

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      I had their version a few times, a few years back. Inconsistent in terms of freshness, but not absolutely horrible. A whole small claw sits atop the bun, as "proof" of it being real lobster. IIRC, it was $3.95 at the time. I found it the best option when my little one was beggin' for a happy meal. Now that she has graduated into a full-blown chowpup (well....chow-preteen), she has NO desire to eat there....however, she now begs me for the $10 D'Angelo's lobster pocket!!

                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                        No way does reds use langostinos. For one Langostinos dont have claws, they are just tails basically. So there would be no claw or knuckle meat in a langostino roll!

                                        1. re: hargau

                                          Here is a photo from roadfood of a reds roll

                                          1. re: hargau

                                            I'm pretty sure MC Slim JB was referring to the Red Lobster chain.....NOT Red's of Wiscasset!

                                            1. re: Science Chick

                                              Thanks, Science Chick, you are correct. I'm not sure how folks thought that by "chain restaurants (Red Lobster for one)" I might have meant Red's Eats of Wiscasset. Heaven forfend I cast aspersions on that roll.

                                              Langostinos are also used by Long John Silver's and Rubio's. Here's an article on the dust-up: www.timesargus.com/apps/pbcs.dll/arti...

                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                oops. I have also been following a thread on the new england board about reds eats so had that on my mind when i read your post. My Bad!

                                          2. re: MC Slim JB

                                            McD;s lobster roll (at least in Maine) is definitely lobster.

                                    2. I have no idea where "Adams Village" is.

                                      Hook's sells a decent lobster roll. Last year it was $10. I ranked it higher than Summer Shack's $17 roll.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Alcachofa

                                        I think Adam's Village is part of Dorchester

                                        Here is a link w/ a map:
                                        http://www.nishnash.com/menus/view.ph...

                                        1. re: Science Chick

                                          Yes, adams village is in dorchester.
                                          Just want to chime in on the whole canned/frozen lobster saga. One summer I waitressed on the Cape, in one of the many lobster restaurants that line Rt 28 heading from hyannis to yarmouth. The place I worked at had something called "lazy man's lobster"" --pure chunks of lobster topped w/ lots of warm butter and breadcrumbs, served in a cute little crock dish. They would get huge canned vats of lobster from Canada, and that's the lobster they used. I always felt sorta guilty about serving that --this was probably around 15 yrs ago and they charged probably over $20 for it..all these tourists would come to the restaurant, thinking they were on the cape and having "cape cod lobster..." NOT. I have to say, I never got any complaints, so I think it was fairly tasty...but it always seemed sort of deceitful to me. I was a 21 year old kid just outta college though, what did i know?

                                          1. re: twentyoystahs

                                            Yes, from what I've heard, McDonald's uses the frozen stuff from Canada in their lobster rolls (which aren't bad) as well...Langostinos are such a different favor that i think it would be easy to spot...

                                        2. re: Alcachofa

                                          Adams Village is n Dorchester on Adams Street just above Gallivan Blvd. Not exactly Down East Maine.

                                          1. re: Northender

                                            I had a good lobster roll for $14.95 at Joe Fish in Andover yesterday. It was a 4 oz. portion of lobster. You can get double for $24.00. We split an order of Rhode Island Calmari and the roll came with french fries and cole slaw. I couldn't have eaten any more. The staff is very friendly and accomodating.

                                        3. OK, I had the lobster roll at Sonny's the other night and it WAS good!

                                          Not much on presentation (sort of looked like it had been run over) but had nice chucks of tasty tail and claw meat. The potato salad was pretty good, too.

                                          I'll be having it again for sure.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                            I went to the Clam Box in Ipswich yesterday. There were 10 adults and 1 child in my group. I waited in line an hour and a half! The line stretched into the parking lot. The lobster roll at the Clam Box was $14.95 yesterday. I didn't get one but they looked very good. I got the fishermen's platter. They also had a fried lobster plate for $22.95. My friend got it and said that it was very good. All of our food was very good but we were exhausted by waiting in line in the sun!

                                            1. re: buffet king

                                              Hey BK,
                                              Welcome to the joys of tourist time in Ipswich! I've only had the fried clams at the clam box, and I think they are the best in the area. (MUCH better than woodmans)
                                              I only have them once or twice a summer (they are fried in either lard or tallow,can't remember which, but makes for crisp, delicious, very unhealthful eats!). Worth waiting for!

                                              I wouldn't wait in line there for a lobster roll - the Ipswich Clambake company right down the road on 133 has a nice one for $12 - $14. It's not huge, but light on the mayo and nice chunks of lobster. Spend the extra 2 bucks to have it on the toasted, buttered roll - the only way to do it, imho. Their fries are pretty awful, though. I usually just get the roll and they don't charge me the extra $2 for the sides.

                                              I think Kelly's does a great job on their lobster roll - $17 is a fair price for the meat of 2 lobsters. It's so huge you could share it. I never do, though! :)

                                          2. This thread doesn't yet mention Rachel's Kitchen's Fri. only Connecticut-style lobster roll, which I think is about $13. It's supposedly quite good, I believe?

                                            1. Hm, a fine question, Pegmeister. Can it be good? I think so. But mostly I think inexpensive lobster rolls are good for a fix. I found myself craving a roll recently, I had about 20 min to spare en route to someplace else, and was in the middle of back bay. Boston Chowda Co in the Prudentual Center food court was the closest, quickest thing I could think of. $10 for a large roll, eaten on the outdoor patio. It was fine, but overly-mayo'd, and the bun could've used a pass through the toaster. Not worth going out of one's way for. It served a quick fix, but it's not what I would call truly "good." (Ultimatley, however, when this girl needs a lobster roll, even a mayo-y one will serve.)

                                              I'm looking forward to trying some of the other rec's in this thread though!

                                              1. Here's a link to a recent thread that has some good inexpensive rec's.

                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/414310