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Lobster roll at Kelly's -- v good value

Is it the best lobster roll in town? I don't think so. But is is a darn good value? Absolutely.

More takeout for me, so I drove thru the Station Landing Kelly's today and steeled myself away from the cheese fries to order the $17 lobster roll for a late lunch. I've had it before but needed to be reminded about the quality. The roll was chock-full of lobster meat, not just "lobster salad" but bug hunks of claw and tail. Very lightly dressed. Besmirched by only a hint of celery, but I'm a purist. The roll was buttered and grilled and barely held the meat. Side of Ruffles and a pickle.

Not all of us care to or can afford to dine at Neptune or B&G. Just a reminder that you, too, can have a good over-stuffed lobster roll in town for under a $20.

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  1. Mmmmmm love those bug hunks :-)

    I have to agree, Kelly's does a very decent lobster roll.

    1. Hmm. Up until two weeks ago I'd managed to miss Kelly's despite living in Boston for more than 20 years. We were at Jordan's in Natick and found it our only option close enough to get the blood back into our faces (have you seen those prices? What are they, magic sofas?). I ordered the lobster roll and was somehow disappointed. While all of the positives yumyum reports were true, the meat just wasn't flavorful enough. I want that in-your-face-sweet/briny-summer is here flavor from the meat and it didn't deliver. Perhaps the other locations are better? Did love the roll and the absence of gloppy mayo though.

      5 Replies
      1. re: tomaneng

        Try the original Revere Beach! I've actually never been to any of the other Kelly's. But the one I had recently was full of flavor and rather sweet tasting.

        1. re: tomaneng

          The only quibble I have is that the roll is served ice cold. This might diminish the full flavor somewhat. But I was very pleased overall.

          And yes, those sofas cook your dinner, too. ;-)

          1. re: tomaneng

            There's only one Kelly's, on Revere Beach. The other franchises seem to be just a shadow of the original - they can be OK but don't live up. Try Revere before giving up on them.

            Pizzeria Regina has the same problem, even more magnified. The franchise locations don't even have brick ovens. Bad franchises based on good restaurants could be a whole other thread.

            1. re: kbw18

              While I agree in general that the original locations for both Regina's & Kelly's are far and away the best of the bunch (particularly compared to those at the mall or at Jordan's), I will say that that Station's Landing locations of each have become very respectable regular destinations for me and my wife. In fact, I'd say they are my favorite neighborhood pizzas, lobster rolls and clam plates respectively.

              BK

              1. re: BJK

                Agreed. Station Landing seems to have overcome the "curse" of the satelite restaurant.

          2. I recently headed back to my home town of Boston and on my way back from Logan at 2am (after picking up my bf from a delayed flight) we stopped by and grabbed 2 lobster rolls from the Revere Beach Kelly's.

            One bite and I remembered all the greatness I had experienced from a Kelly's childhood! My bf named it THE BEST late night snack in all of history. It's a great value and you get so much meat that it fills me up quick.

            I miss it while living in DC. Nothing like it. I'm coming back to visit soon and all I can think about is my summer favorite!

            6 Replies
            1. re: Elyssa

              Don't they have crab rolls in DC? :-)

              1. re: tamerlanenj

                Haven't really seen that many crab rolls on menus. There is one New England-style restuarant that serves a good lobster roll but it sure isn't $17! And it's not as good as Kelly's.

                1. re: Elyssa

                  hmm, maybe I should invent the crab roll.

                  1. re: tamerlanenj

                    Kelly's has a crab (salad) roll that's pretty good.

              2. re: Elyssa

                I would think there should be plenty of place in DC that can thaw out a pack of lobster meat as good as the places around here...

                1. re: hargau

                  A decent lobster roll NEVER has thawed out lobster meat out of a pack. Fresh picked lobster is a MUST for sweet, tender, flavorful meat. The difference is like night and day.

              3. I've never tried a Kelly's roll, but I was surprised and disappointed to read on this board recently that they use canned lobster meat. Having had one such roll at Dairy Joy, I'm not in a hurry to get another one, however reasonably priced.

                15 Replies
                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  i read that too but was wondering if this was an assumption or a fact and if a fact, how does this person know that?? Do they work there or know someone who works there. Kelly's roll is a surprise- had one recently and it is on a nice toasted bun, lots of meat and very little mayo. Can;t complain.

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    If it was canned, I'd be surprised. But I think that's a red herring, your experience at Dairy Joy notwithstanding. This roll was very good with firm chunks of lobster and lots of it. Canned or no, it was delish.

                    1. re: yumyum

                      I did some searching for that post (which appeared in the past two weeks, I believe) that claims Kelly's lobster roll meat is canned; even with the greatly improved new search function, I can't find it: removed by the mods, perhaps. So maybe it's a bogus contention.

                      1. re: yumyum

                        That's how I saw it! Even if it was canned (which is most certainly doesn't seem like it nor taste like it) its still delicious. I was surprised to hear it may be canned. Would love to see hard-core confirmation.

                        I think it was listed under "cheap lobster rolls" or something along those lines.

                        1. re: Elyssa

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

                          Chowhound phatchris, can you reveal the basis for your contention that Kelly's uses canned lobster meat? Inquiring Hounds want to know.

                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            unlikely canned meat but no place that does any volume of lobster rolls cooks and picks their own meat. more liekly Kelly's buys fresh picked meat from one of the many fish houses that supply most of the coastal restaurants from boston north.

                            1. re: Bighead

                              Picking lobster meat is no rocket science. It's generally the large volume joints that are likely to pick their own. Serving fresh tasty lobster is what got them busy in the first place!

                            2. re: MC Slim JB

                              Like I said, even if it *was* canned, it was great. This reminds me of the "authentic" debate. Yawn. Bottom line: it's yummy.

                              1. re: yumyum

                                Okay, but one person's "yummy" might be another person's "meh". I'm interested in knowing, since I've had a lobster roll made from canned lobster meat, and found it decidedly "meh", though it was several "yummy" opinions that pushed me to travel to Weston to try it.

                                It seems obvious to me that fresh (and maybe even frozen) lobster meat might be superior to canned. If I find out Kelly's uses canned, it's not going to be on the top of my list of lobster rolls to try.

                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  I had a lousy lobster roll at Jakes in Nantasket and suspected that was canned lobster meat also.

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    I would say kellys probally uses frozen as do most places even in boothbay and maine destinations. I have told the story many times here how i sat in boothbay last summer and watched a frozen food truck deliver a 2 wheel hand truck full of cases of frozen lobster meat to just about every restaurant in the harbor. Each place must have got 75-80 pounds of the stuff if not more.

                                    Dairy Joy I know for a FACT uses meat that comes in 5 gallon cans. I grew up about 1 mile from the place and many of my friends worked there slicing onions on the deli slicer for onion rings, etc.. We used to talk about what it costs them for a can and how many rolls they get per can x what they sell them for. I forget the figures now but it was shocking how much they made on 1 can of meat.

                                    1. re: hargau

                                      One of the free weeklies, I think it's Stuff@Night, has a local lobster roll review... they've got Kelly's and Summer Shack claiming to use fresh lobster.

                                      I of course Immediately thought of hargau's comments here, my bias now is (and I think correctly) that they all probably use canned, or maybe frozen, lobster meat.

                                2. re: MC Slim JB

                                  I grew up in Revere, and as a tennager living in Revere you either work at kelly's or have multiple friends that work at Kellys. The only secret they don't give out is the tartar sauce. The lobster in fact comes in big cans or it did 10 - 15 years ago. And it was the roast beef that put them on the map not the seafood.

                                  1. re: phatchris

                                    I also grew up right next to Revere, but never worked on the Beach.

                                    Kelly's was known for their Roast Beef and fried clams I believe, not the Lobster roll.

                                    I haven't had their Lobster roll, but if it's canned, then I won't bother trying theirs.

                                    I am on the No. Shore now, and usually do Lobster Claw, or (and don't laugh) Papa Gino's. While the Lobster Claw is huge, it's 16.99, and PG's quick fix and much smaller is 9.99 and cheap eats.

                                    1. re: mcel215

                                      Don't get me wrong its not a bad lobster roll; just doesn't have that fresh sweet taste, and is all claw ,very little if any tail.

                          2. Just fyi, i know this is miles away from Boston proper, but last week I enjoyed a perfectly respectable and delicious lobster roll at the Oxford Creamery, in Mattapoisett. It was chock full o' lobster w. just a little mayo and NO celery or other fillers, a huge bonus in my book. Served on a hot dog roll and I'm pretty sure it was buttered and toasted though now I am not 100% sure, and came with a side of tasty fries. The cost for this magical taste of summer? $9.95. Great deal. When I'm anywhere south of Boston, this is where I'll get my lobster roll fix from now on.