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Apr 10, 2013 09:54 AM

Lobster Rolls: 2013 Edition

I figured we could use a new thread for recent lobster roll reports.

I took advantage of yesterday's perfect spring day to make my first ever trip to Belle Isle Seafood for their lobster roll. I never made it to their old location so I have nothing to compare the new location to.

The lobster roll (comes with fries) and drink came to about $23 which is on the higher end for a counter service shack style place. There was a ton of meat in the roll, however which made the value acceptable. Mostly tail and claw meat with a tiny bit of knuckle. The lobster was very fresh. The one complaint I did have was that the bun did not come close to doing the lobster meat justice. I know the bun isn't the main event or anything close but a lobster roll like this needs a better bun. The bun was tiny (comically tiny), falling apart and could not be picked up until I had nearly finished the meat. While the bun did have grill marks, it did not appear to be buttered at all. Overall, this is a very good lobster roll but probably best eaten with just a fork and skipping the bun. A somewhat sturdy buttered bun would have taken the roll from very good to excellent. But I suppose it is a fine line between my complaint and complaints that there is too much bread and not enough lobster. The fries were unremarkable and had no salt whatsoever.

Anyone else have a lobster roll recently, good or bad, that they want to mention?

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  1. Belle Isle is my comfort food and we hit it a lot. Usually we get a lobster roll with onion rings and some chowder. What I like about Belle Isle is that it is 100% focused on fresh large-chunks of lobster meat (I also used to like the romance of sitting in the dirt out back watching planes take off but maybe that's just me).

    That said, because they are so focused on the lobster meat part, the rest of the roll (bread, mayo, celery) is definitely disappointing. Also, as I've said in the past, I highly recommend BYOS (bring your own salt) to Belle Isle. I don't think they've heard of salt.

    Although other posters may disagree, I actually like the roll at Island Creek. I wish there was more meat for the price, but they nail the other parts. Great brioche roll, and well dressed but not too much mayo or mix ins. Personally, I like a lot of mayo and mix-ins, but that's just me. If I just want meat, I'll go Rhode Island style with butter. I also seem to vaguely remember a lunch at L'Espalier a long time ago with a killer (albeit expensive) lobster roll with bacon and avocado. I wonder if they still offer it.

    Although I love lobster rolls and almost always order them on the menu, I find most end up being pretty average with either not enough meat, poor quality meat, or poor quality bread being the biggest culprits. Still it doesn't stop me from ordering them. I'm curious to see if this thread suggests any new places that haven't been mentioned in the past for stand-outs (ie. besides Neptune, B&G, Alive & Kicking, Yankee Lobster).

    11 Replies
      1. re: Klunco

        Speaking of horrid looking lobster rolls I recently spied same at Charlie's kitchen in Harvard square. SRSLY this thing looked horrid. I like Charlie's for a beer and guilty jalapeƱo poppers but what gives on the lobby roll? Anyone had it?

        1. re: yumyum

          Haven't had it in years, but my memory is consistent with your description. I agree Charlie's is best for drinking. The inside is a bit grungy for eating.

          1. re: yumyum

            Often times at a pub when I see Lobster roll on the menu I just assume probably poor quality frozen Canadian meet thrown into a shitty un-toasted bun haphazardly, no problem, I can get behind that. I wouldn't expect much from Charlies besides dive drinks (although I much prefer the Cantab) but I don't think I'd order a lobster roll there. Even I have standards!

          2. re: Klunco

            What's your opinion on the Belle Isle roll since the move? Before they simply had their standard (and excellent) roll. Now there is the addition of the premium tail only roll. Do you think there is now less tail meat in the standard roll, or is it just my imagination?

            The tables in the new location are nice and service is a smidge better and friendlier IMO.

            1. re: Gabatta

              I've found no discernible, consistent change in the amount of tail meat since the move. Haha, that sounds like a statement a politician would make.

              That said, it may just be in your head. My guess is excess claws go into the lobster bisque. I've never understood the obsession with tail meat personally. I think a mix between claw and tail provides contrast, but I also would buy a claw-only roll if they sold one (Sacrebleu!)

              I think the new location is nice, even if like all new places, it seems a bit sterile. Once it's warm enough and the windows open up and the outdoor seating is open, I do think that will more than justify the new space. I will slightly miss the byob nature of dirt behind the old-location, but I could always take my food to go at the new one.

              I also wonder if they'll get mobbed with the new space now that there is seating. Also, does anyone know if they're open later now?

              1. re: Klunco

                I prefer the texture and flavor of the tail, but it's really all good. Their jedi marketing trick is toying on this weak minded fool. I see the tail option and look at my standard roll with a suspicious eye.

                I hope the larger new location means they won't run out of lobster rolls as often in the past.

                In the warm weather I prefer to get them to go and eat at Coughlin Park. You can discreetly BYO there and watch the planes land overhead.

                1. re: Gabatta

                  Thanks for the tip on Coughlin park; we will have to check it out on our next visit.

                  I'm imagining with the larger space, they're anticipating higher demand and sold-out lobster rolls should be rare.

                  1. re: Gabatta

                    Just want to double confirm that there's no difference in tail to claw ratio in standard lobster roll. I'm not about to cough up $8 more per roll for all tail and I do enjoy claw, but upon examination of two lobster rolls today, one had three claws, the other had four. Still comparatively, there was still more tail than claw.

                2. re: Gabatta

                  I took my wife to Belle Isle for the first time last weekend. It was my first time at the new spot. Love the tables. Service was comically bad, and also not very friendly, but that is part of the allure I guess. Roll was probably 70% claw meat. Onion rings were fantastic.

                  1. re: mkfisher

                    I actually have found the service much friendlier at the new spot than the old, but then again when they're slammed it does get a little rough around the edges (with the accents and yelling, I joke with international friends it's part of the experience like Pizzeria Regina) I have a hard time imagining myself as a "regular" anywhere, but I do think they recognize me there, so that may be the difference.

                    That aside, I'm bummed to hear there's been so much variation with the claw/tail ratio. Maybe I've lucked out each time I've gone. Hopefully more people will weigh in on this.

                    Onion rings seem the same to me as always, so we always bring salt.

              2. I'll add one more to check out. Visited the Boston Shuckin' Truck yesterday and saw a lot of Lobster Rolls handed over customers in the Financial District.

                @BosShuckinTruck on twitter.

                I don't eat mayo so I couldn't try one and I really prefer the RI style with mayo or butter on the side.

                But, someone out there that likes mayo can test it.


                4 Replies
                1. re: BostonZest

                  I don't eat mayo either. Do you have suggestions of places where you can order your lobster roll w/out mayo?

                  1. re: SEH

                    Neptune Oyster serves theirs with a drawn butter sauce. It's awesome.

                    1. re: SEH

                      I used to just walk away, now I ask and I'm finding that many places will make up a lobster roll without mayo for me. James Hook offered to make one so I ordered two!

                      I was at Tony's Clam Shack at Wollaston and had already ordered when I asked about it and the many behind the counter said they have lobster on hand and will make one for me.

                      Now I wouldn't ask them to do it on a busy weekend in August but weekdays I will be asking.

                      1. re: BostonZest

                        On the north side, Joe Fish in North Andover and North Reading will do the same thing. And their lobster rolls come in three different sizes. Definitely not Neptune, but will do in a pinch.

                  2. 2 RECs,,legal harborside floor 1..last year their lobster roll was 17.95 but looks like they updated it to MP for this summer. I still expect the price to be reasonable. They have great chunks of lobster meat and the perfect toasted buttered bun for it. It comes with fries and coleslaw. Last summer I really enjoyed Artbar's lobster rolls. They have a double roll option for 25$ which is a lot of food but great to fulfill your lobster roll craving. Their lobster rolls are very classic, light on the mayo, one piece of lettuce, a good amount of lobster salad (no filler). They also have killer sweet potato tots to go on the side, and an outdoor patio!

                    ICOB is my least favorite restaurant lobster roll. Too much filler, and horrible bun. The bun overpowers the lobster roll in flavor and size. Their lobster salad on it's own is good, i would eat the bun separate.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: AaronInBoston

                      When you say "filler", do you mean celery and mayo and other non- lobster stuff, or do you mean subprime bits of lobster?

                      1. re: AaronInBoston

                        Thanks for both of these recs; although I've had very inconsistent rolls at a variety of legal locations in the past (some great, some seriously awful), I've been looking for an excuse to check out the harborside location and a lobster roll is an easy excuse to do it.

                      2. Last Sunday, I ate at Legal C Bar at Legacy Place Dedham. I didn't get the lobster roll, but as I was leaving, I saw someone eating one. It looked delicious and was overflowing with lobster. Next time.....

                        1. I would love to have a list for future reference of which restaurants put celery in their lobster rolls and which do not. I cannot do celery in a lobster roll - it totally ruins it for me. Occasionally I add a few snips of chives to the ones I make at home, but that's the extent of it beyond lobster and a little mayo on a toasted and buttered roll.

                          I would have been frustrated if I had trekked all the way to Belle Isle and realized the roll had celery in it.

                          I can't help with any recent lobster roll recommendations because I tend to stay away from them in restaurants, being afraid of celery and all. :-) I would like James Hook's for value if not for the celery (can't remember how much it costs, but it's not much for a lobster roll). Neptune's is of course great, but everyone knows that. Though I find the rest of Neptune's menu so compelling that I rarely get a lobster roll because there are just too many other things to try that I don't make at home.

                          I'd love to hear recommendations for minimalist lobster rolls.

                          26 Replies
                          1. re: MrsCheese

                            haven't made it to neptune, but intend to this season- assuming i'm with a friend, what's the other dish we shoudl get? Is their vitello tonnato good?

                            1. re: valcfield

                              I've always been tempted by the vitello tonnato but haven't ordered it yet. I'm typically there at dinner time and not in the mood for a sandwich. I always really enjoy the mussels - the preparation changes regularly and always really interesting combos beyond the typical mussels with white wine that I do at home. I think last time I was there they were in a rich curry broth. Many times I will order the mussels and a crudo special. They also have a fantastic brothy cioppino with chunks of lobster, grilled fish, clams, mussels, and saffron rice. And I've never gone wrong with one of their fish specials.

                              You've reminded me that it's been too long since I've been to Neptune.

                              1. re: MrsCheese

                                thanks for the info, will keep that in mind!

                              2. re: valcfield

                                my favorite at Neptune is the Neptunes on piggyback....fried oysters on top of delicious pork. Also the scallop sounds like a complicated mess of lots of ingredients but is excellent...the ingredients change from time to time. Cuttlefish appetizer, tuna ribbons, crab salad..

                                1. re: Madrid

                                  Ever had the Johnny cake with smoked trout and caviar? It's pretty delicious too

                                2. re: valcfield

                                  The Vitello Tonnato is an excellent choice. As are the fried clams. I can't seem to order anything than the lob roll, the clams, and the vt each time I ago. Because they are FANTASTIC! :)

                                3. re: MrsCheese

                                  Jakes in Hull has everything "on the side". Buttered roll (toasted by request only) with undressed lobster meat. Mayo, celery and lettuce on the side. I do have to say I didn't make over there last summer and heard a couple of comments that they had gotten a little skimpy with the lobster for the price but that's not my experience over the years. They were always pricey but the rolls were stuffed with tails and claws.

                                  1. re: MrsCheese

                                    I am with you on that. I cant stand celery.. Dont mind it cooked to death in chicken soup or something but raw celery is one of my least favorite foods and when all chopped up in mayo, very tough to eat around...

                                    1. re: hargau

                                      Exactly! And people always say, but it doesn't taste like anything....

                                      Maybe we're celery super tasters? I can taste it a mile away, and it's a pain to pick out. I use celery for cooking often (particularly the leaves), but in my mind it has no business in a lobster roll.

                                      If you have any suggestions for celery-free lobster rolls, please share. The lobster rolls at Hudson Dairy Joy (now Hudson Creamery) are pretty good, and less expensive than the one in Weston I think, but it's not like they're preparing the lobster in house or anything. Could do worse though, and no celery! Last year they had a hot buttered version too, but I don't know if they're doing it this year or not.

                                      1. re: MrsCheese

                                        According to science people who say celery taste like nothing probably have destroyed pallets from eating buffalo wings and celery since spicy food kills taste buds. I still love spicy food though and celery is very explosive to me so who knows.

                                        1. re: MrsCheese

                                          I have not had a Dairy Joy lobster roll since my friends worked there in the 80s but back then the lobster came in 5 gallon cans.. bleh..maybe its changed over the years.

                                          I tried one at Kimballs, it had celery...

                                          I now tend to only get them in Maine where for some reason i dont run into celery often...

                                          I even pick it out of potato or macaroni salads! And there is this one tofuskin shrimp roll at dimsum with celery in the middle that i pick out too.. hate the stuff.

                                          1. re: hargau

                                            I always just assuming that Dairy Joy was using refrigerated or frozen pre-picked lobster meat, but yeah, it's not like it's a Neptune quality roll. I've certainly had worse though, and sometimes they've been quite good on a good night. (other times have been more watery which was what made me think it was thawed meat.) Actually though, their whole belly clams are really good (if always under salted) so that's usually my default there. Their fried scallop roll is also expertly fried with perfectly cooked juicy scallops.

                                            1. re: MrsCheese

                                              Somewhat off topic but has anyone had a fast food chain lobster roll I've always wanted one but never had the guts, ( places like McDonald's or d'angelo)

                                              1. re: ButterBuddha

                                                I haven't, but I imagine that it's not unlike ordering a tuna sandwich, albeit quite a bit more expensive. The lobster meat will be from a can or frozen. I guess you know what you're in for when you order a lobster roll from a fast food chain, and they're generally priced accordingly (though I recall the Panera next to International Place charging some egregious amount - $17? -for what looked like a pretty crappy lobster roll).

                                                1. re: ButterBuddha

                                                  The lobster roll at 99 (at least the "warm" one) isn't bad, if you have no other alternative.

                                                  1. re: ButterBuddha

                                                    I really like the D'Angelo lobster prep. A bit mayo-y, but I like that. No fillers...probably frozen meat but is very tasty and is a good, quick, reliable fix (priced right, too!).

                                                    1. re: Science Chick

                                                      I'm with you. Honestly it's the same as most bars/pubs out there and even dairy joy except cheaper and you know what you're getting: frozen Canadian meat out of a 5-gallon jug. I think it's better than processed deli-meats.

                                                  2. re: MrsCheese

                                                    When I've gone to Dairy Joy in the past I've really wanted to like it. Soft-serve is a rare treat these days and the setting is nice and reminds me of places we'd go when I was a kid, but the prices there are just insane. It is delicious, but those prices!

                                                    Never tried the seafood (and probably won't now) just because it's always so expensive and I've often wondered how much turn over they get. Good to know.

                                                2. re: MrsCheese

                                                  Celery tastes like dirty water to me. I'm not sure how anyone can enjoy the stuff.

                                              2. re: MrsCheese

                                                I've never seen celery at Belle Isle, and between my wife and me, we've had at least 50 lobster rolls there over the years.

                                                One leaf of lettuce is the only green there.

                                                1. re: L2k

                                                  Correct, Belle Isle does not have celery in it, they just put a thin piece of romaine on the bottom of the roll to prevent sogginess.

                                                  1. re: L2k

                                                    Oh good to know, thanks. I was responding to Klunco's mention of celery below. there's another for the list then!

                                                    1. re: MrsCheese

                                                      Sorry for the confusion, I think I wrote without thinking. As my photo from a recent visit shows, there is nothing is the bun besides lots of lobster and a sole lettuce leaf.

                                                      1. re: MrsCheese

                                                        Thank you for asking this question. I am a super taster of celery b/c of a severe allergy to all bits and pieces of the nasty veg cooked or uncooked. Cannot even touch the stuff in the produce department. So all I caught in this sub discussion was Belle Isle and D'Angelo's. Is that all? In 2006, Uno's had lobster sliders with no celery at their Boylston location...moment of silence for the victims of the Marathon Bombings... Have not been back since then.

                                                        1. re: Chikkinlittle2

                                                          as I mentioned above if you are down on the South shore go to Jakes or Lobster Express. Just lobster meat- everything else is on the side thought at Lobster Express thats by request.