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Where to find "lobster pie" similar to Hilltop's

  • k

Years ago I remember having "lobster pie" at the Hilltop. It was really simple and great. Basically a ton of lobster meat cooked in butter and sprinkled with breadcrumbs. I suppose "lobster casserole" might be a better name.

Can anyone tell me of a more T-accessible place in Cambridge, Somerville or Boston that does this dish nice and simply like the Hilltop's version?


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  1. Belle Isle has a lobster casserole (or at least they did, I always get a lobster roll there and haven't looked at the menu in over a year). Not so far from the Orient Heights T Station.

    2 Replies
    1. re: L2k

      Excellent. I sometimes in that area visiting family!

      1. re: kdl

        I don't believe they do lobster pie, but if you are commonly in the area you might check out the Winthrop Arms which has a lot of baked/stuffed dishes.

    2. The Stockyard used to do one, but recently closed. Its worth a call to Jimmy's Steer House in Arlington, who occasionally does it as a special. I much prefer their crab pie, actually, which is offered year round but substitute lobster when crab isn't available or just as a special. Sounds like the preparation you mentioned, maybe with a small amount of sherry. Like Belle Isle its not particularly close to the T, but there is a bus from Alewife to Arlington Heights which goes right by it as well as the 77 from Harvard or Porter. You might also look into baked stuffed lobster as there are similar preparations and much more available. I happen to like the Dolphin version done with scallops.

      7 Replies
      1. re: itaunas

        Love Jimmys crab pie ( have only been to the Saugus restaurant, and to the Grassfields in Andover)- also love their rice. And yoiu cant beat the price

        1. re: macca

          Have you had their rice recently? I've always loved it, but when I was there about a month ago, it was undercooked, underseasoned, and underwhelming.

          1. re: fantundo

            havent been to Jimmys in a while- I was at Grassfields a few months ago, and the rice was fine. I know someone who works at Jimmys and will ask them what happened!

            1. re: fantundo

              I thought that as well the couple of times I ordered it several weeks aog, but I tried it again last week and it was fine. Not sure what happened.

              People rave about Grassfield's Crab pie, but the also have lobster pie on the menu occasionally. I've had it a couple of times and it's very good.

              1. re: BlueMagic

                Grassfields rice, pies, etc are the same as Jimmy's- same owners. And both restaurants offer lobster when the crab prices are too high.

          2. re: itaunas

            Dolphin Seafood in Harvard Square?

            1. re: kdl

              Yes, there are some hits/misses on the menu but it comes from a similar Greek background as several of the other restaurants and does a good baked stuffed lobster. You also find baked stuffed at Italian American restaurants, although sometimes with different seasoning.

          3. I had a lobster casserole recently at the Mount Vernon. It was kind of overcooked, but not bad.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Fly

              Good to know. That place has always intrigued me. Never been though.

              1. re: kdl

                I live in the neighborhood. I've never had the casserole (don't believe it's available every day but maybe is...called lazy man's lobster) but they have excellent boiled lobster specials and even better if you sign up for their email newsletter. 10.95 last Monday for twins. Step back in time...popovers, too. Lovely people there.

                I do remember having the lobster sherry "pie" at Pier 4 when I was a college student here in the mid 70's and my parents came into town.

                1. re: Madrid

                  Hadn't thought about lobster pie at Pier 4 in at least thirty years. Stuck my head in there on a visit a few years ago...set in amber, just like 1975 in there (and no customers for obvious reasons). I always liked Jimmy's better anyway.

                  Thanks for the flashback.

                  1. re: hazelhurst

                    I'll add my thanks for the Hilltop flashback! I hated Hilltop, but would oblige & tag along w/my parents. But I will admit, I loved that lobster pie. Mmm...

            2. I think Frank's in North Cambridge might offer one.

              1 Reply
              1. re: owen_meany

                Frank's has changed its menu recently, not in a good way, eliminated some of my old favorites. What's an old-fashioned steak house without a teriyaki steak?! It seems like a mistake for a place like that whose niche is vein in a time warp to try to modernize and compete with I'm not quite sure what.

              2. Village Restaurant in Essex has exactly the preparation you describe. Given their overall high food quality, I'd be willing to bet it's tasty. Stephanie's on Newbury and James Hook both have lobster pies, although described more like a pot pie with a flaky crust.

                1. The problem with these things at most places is they are using already cooked/shelled meat and then putting it in a casserole/pie and cooking it yet again.. So you end up with overcooked/tough meat. It is pretty rare for a place to shell a live lobster raw and then put that meat into a pie and cook it in the pie...

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: hargau

                    Interesting. I bet that's how Hilltop does it since it comes in a metal dish that restaurants use to pre-make the food and then heat it up later. But they still make it darn tasty!

                    1. re: hargau

                      hargau this type of recipe is often prepared in a salamander, so even if working with fresh lobster meat its going to be pre-cooked somewhat as well as the crab. However, your point is one of the reasons I suggested baked stuff lobster because you know it came from the water because it fits the shell its served in. (Some places parboil before doing baked stuffed to ensure proper temp.) And there are very similar recipes to what the original poster is mentioning (cracker crumbs, butter, maybe an alcohol). The one I like isn't exactly it, but close. I would suspect the Jimmy's lobster version isn't as good because they used canned or other frozen lobster and it definitely leaks some water (here a nice saute in butter actually could help at the risk of making it tougher) but that is just speculation. The crab is much better and the waitress claims they buy large quantities of it fresh, plus take it off when only lesser quality crab is available, but it may well be canned too considering the source (it has been remarkably consistent, only once I haven't liked it).

                      1. re: hargau

                        Actually, using cooked lobster meat is the correct preparation. The key to making a dish that requires you to cook lobster twice, like Lobster Thermidor or Lobster Casserole, is precise timing. You need to cook the lobster just long enough to make it safe (steam, broil, or boil, depending on the need), de-shell it quickly, and incorporate the other ingredients and get it back under the heat quickly so the meat never cools down and you have to spend as little time as possible under the heat again getting the final browning / warming. With Lobster Thermidor, you split the raw lobster, broil it till the meat is cooked, toss the meat in the sauce, stuff it in the shells, and give it a quick brown up and serve. You really need to get the sauce close to done before you broil the lobster (maybe 15 minutes out), so neither the sauce sits around and solidifies nor the lobster gets cold and needs to much heat to get warm through the center. Same issue with the casserole. If you are getting chewy lobster casserole, you chef is either a) ignoring the bug too long in the initial cooking phase b) a slow de-sheller or c) ignoring the bug too long under the broiler. If they are lazy enough to be pre-steaming a bunch of lobsters, chilling them, and then trying to warm the whole dish under the broiler, they should hand in their apron or go work for Olive Garden.

                        1. re: InmanSQ Girl

                          sure i can agree with all that but my point is i doubt they are handling/cooking a lobster at all. They are mostly buying meat from a wholesaler whether fresh bagged/frozen or canned and in those cases it wouldnt be cooked as you suggest but fully cooked

                          1. re: hargau

                            And lobster/seafood dealers who sell live lobster and lobster rolls sometimes make the latter with the ones in the tank which no longer swim. You can get higher-quality picked lobster wholesale than the cans in the supermarket, although both are probably imported from Canada.

                            1. re: itaunas

                              Whenever i see a cooked lobster or lobster roll in the grocers fish case, i cringe.. I guess people think they just randomly cook lobsters and put them on ice...

                              1. re: hargau

                                AGreed- i see lobster rolls all the time at Johnny Foodmaster and wonder who really buys them
                                I have cousins in Ohio who I frequently visit. We always bring the makings for Italian subs, and often send lobsters and steamers to enjoy while we are there. One year, we had leftover lobster, and I said I would make lobster salad. They had never heard of it, and thought it sounded odd- but loved it!

                      2. This doesn't help you as far being T-accessible, but the Porthole in Lynn does a lobster casserole in the old-school style you are looking for. Then again, there isn't anything about the Porthole that is not old-school. I personally find it charming in that regard.

                        I used to be a fan of Belle Isle's version, but ~2/3 years ago, instead of serving the lobster on its own in an aluminum container with crisp breadcrumbs, they now slop it into styrofoam with rice and the breadcrumbs are always soggy and unappetizing.

                        1. The Continental Restaurant in Saugus has a terrific baked stuffed lobster and also serves a lobster casserole which would probably be very similar to the Hilltop. Like the Porthole, it is old school and, like Stevie, I find it charming for that reason.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: RichardinJP

                            I agree with you. The Continental has one of my 2 favorite baked stuffed lobsters. A friend of mine always gets the crab pie there and it's meat from king crab legs with crumb topping similar to the Ritz cracker crumb topping Hilltop had.. I would assume the lobster pie is probably made the same way. I miss Hilltop's lobster pies. I use to get them at the Hilltop store for 7.99.

                            1. re: catsmeow

                              Haven't made it out to the Continental for my nostalgia trip yet. Do either of you know what the Baked Stuffed Lobster is going for now?

                              1. re: threedogs

                                No. I haven't been since last winter.. They usually have either 2 or 3 sizes to choose from. We always get the Jumbo ones and take leftovers home. It tastes just as good the next day.

                                1. re: threedogs

                                  They are in the $35 - $45 dollar range. Expensive, but a worthy occassional splurge.

                                  1. re: RichardinJP

                                    Thanks so much, catsmeow & RichardinJP. I agree - that price may seem like a lot, but you know, I very seldom go out to eat. Good to know that the leftover will be just as good, so, if I am to order one, I might as well go with the jumbo! :D

                                    While I cook extensively, I can't do lobster - or anything else that requires cooking while it's still alive. Eeks - yet I will happily eat them if someone else does.

                                    I'm also looking forward to the nostalgia aspect - my mother & father have long passed away, so it, I'm sure, will bring back memories for me.

                                    1. re: RichardinJP

                                      That doesn't seem that bad to me if the lobster is in the 2lb. range - and considering other alternatives like Legal or Summer Shack .

                                      I had the baked stuffed lobster at Out of the Blue in Davis Sq. for my birthday dinner last week - asked if they had larger lobsters, they didn't but they offered to take the meat out of one lobster and stuff it into another. Sold! I enjoyed every last bite - not overcooked at all - I think they did the claws seperately, and the lobster was hardshell and packed full of meat. It was $56 but I think the regular version with scallop stuffing may be a bit less. Allagash White available too.

                              2. James Hook & Co has lobster pie to go.
                                From menupages:
                                "Boston Lobster Pies our boston lobster pies are one of kind, and absolutely delicious! consider the combination of new england lobster with a chicken pot pie crust, it doesn't get much better than that."


                                1. It would be easier to cook at home then to try to find a restaurant that still offers the Hilltop version. It's really quite simple. I steam my lobsters for about 7 minutes, remove the meat, place in small single serving casserole dishes. Then I melt some butter; add some crushed Ritz crackers and a little parmsean, blend together; top the lobster and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. You won't be able to tell the difference from what you used to have at Hilltop.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. If you'd like to make your own lobster "pie" here's a link to James Hook's recipe. Looks very simple and likely to taste like the one you remember given the ingredients, especially the Ritz crackers... it's the third recipe down.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: Gio

                                      Yum. Looks like a great recipe. Thanks!

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        Thanks for that link, Gio. There are several recipes on there that I've been looking for good versions of. They look quite good, are there any that you've made?

                                        1. re: justbeingpolite

                                          Just seeing this now. JBP. Sorry. The only recipe I've actually made is the Easy Perfect Baked Haddock. I don't use all that butter though, maybe half, and I use fresh minced Italian parsley... All the recipes seem quite doable, don't they?

                                        2. re: Gio

                                          OMG...the recipe calls for boiling a 1 1/4 pound lobster for 12-15 minutes then baking it for another 10 in a 425 degree oven. Holy overcooked lobster Fisherman!

                                          1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                            If you stuck to the 12 min end of that, wouldn't it be ok?

                                            1. re: justbeingpolite

                                              The way I learned it, the rule of thumb for steaming is 10 minutes for a 1 pounder and add 2 minutes for every 1/4 pound thereafter. Boiling is less time than that. That's what I do if I'm going to eat the meat as is or use for a salad (in which case it's important to give it an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Every chef I've ever known under-cooks it by a few minutes if it's going to be cooked again in a lazy lobster pie, or some other dish. Lately I've been enjoying them butter poached, and I only steam them long enough to get the meat out of the shell, then cook it in a warm butter bath for 40 minutes or so. Scrumptious and so easy.

                                            2. re: CapeCodGuy

                                              Ya know... I've learned to read through a recipe to get an understanding of what the author intends for the finished dish then adapting that to both my experience and knowledge. A larger lobster needs more cooking time than a smaller one whether it's boiled or steamed. We all know that. The recipe calls for 5 lbs of lobster with a yield of 1 1/2 lbs meat. The key words are, "steam.. or until done." Cook the lobster and assemble the rest of the recipe as directed.

                                              This is one instance where I would probably use already picked lobster meat in the interest of saving time...

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                Agreed and well said. I cook as you do, but there are many folks who cook a recipe to the letter. Was just trying to help out by answering a direct question, not trying to be snarky about it.

                                                1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                  Oh.. thanks. Please don't think I thought you were being snarky. Cuz, I dint..

                                          2. I buy the lobster "splits" at Captain Marden's - the meat of half a lobster, cooked, for about $4.50 to $4.99. Buy their prepared cracker crumbs for $2.50, bring 'em home with two splits, sauté them with some butter, and it's fresher and cheaper than any lobster pie out there.

                                            1. I've seen something like this on the menu at Amrheins in Southie, although looking at their current website, doesn't seem to be on the menu. Worth calling and asking tho

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: Wannabfoode

                                                Last March, I got it at Amrheins. The lobster tasted like it had been frozen and it wasn't very good.

                                                1. re: catsmeow

                                                  I downed a delicious lobster pie over the weekend at Petey's Summertime Seafood in Rye, NH. Nice and buttery, with a luscious crab-n-ritz stuffing.

                                                  1. re: Swankalicious

                                                    Lobster Pie is a staple at MANY Cape restaurants. The trick is finding a good one that uses freshly picked meat.

                                                    1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                      Come on Guy....Don't you mean the real trick is finding one that uses fresh picked meat that's been under cooked 3 or 4 mins. so it isn't dried out and rubbery.

                                                      1. re: Infomaniac

                                                        Anyone who's half a cook or has more than three taste buds would know that goes without saying.

                                                        All the better Cape restaurant kitchens I worked in my youth cooked chix 9-10 minutes if the meat was going into lobster salad, and only 5-6 if it was going to be used in a casserole, bouillabaisse, fra diavlo, scampi, etc. I don't know what's so hard for you to understand about this?

                                                        1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                          I'm impressed Guy....You know everything about cooking lobster. Keep up the good work!