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Oct 21, 2013 04:11 AM

Lobster Rolls in November? Portland, Maine

Thanksgiving is at our house this year. Family members want to try a lobster roll. We are going to Boones, Wednesday before Thanksgiving. But Tuesday night we'd like to explore lobster rolls somewhere else. Is anything still open?

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  1. People still live in Portland during the winter, and locals enjoy lobster rolls. too. All the usual suspects (other than the Portland lobster Co. and the Bite into Maine food truck) are open. Eventide, Fishermen's Grill, Jay's Oyster--

    21 Replies
    1. re: sultanaboudreau

      Thanks, Sultanaboudreau. Eventide has a great reputation for their lobster rolls. That's the ticket for sure.

        1. re: sultanaboudreau

          Thanks. Actually, I live in Portland! It's my family who is coming to town. I just knew that my favorite places to get lobster and lobster rolls would be closed, and wasn't sure if anyone had any recommendations within a thirty mile radius of Portland that would be cool and nice for lobster rolls. I forgot about Eventide, although they don't seem to have the traditional lobster rolls. Which i was sort of, kind of looking for. Bite into Maine has the best lobster roll I've had thus far, and Boone's lobster roll was good, but nothing special. I don't like Fisherman's grill, although maybe I should give it another shot, since I live just a few blocks from there, and J's oyster will never happen again for as long as I live. Sal

          1. re: nyawira

            I don't think there is anything to compare with Bite into Maine lobster roll-wise...
            I don't love Fisherman's Grill, either, and Js my relatives always want to go to when they come visit, for the local color, I suppose.
            What about Jamieson's Tavern in Freeport?

            1. re: sultanaboudreau

              Ok you two -- please expand on why you don't like Fishermen's Grill. I am all for contrarians on CH, but more info would be helpful.

              1. re: Bob W

                This time of year I think FG is probably the best bet for the op to get a more traditional lobster roll especially since he lives in the neighborhood. Go off peak for the roll then hit Eventide later and compare. It's really the only option for a true hound.

                  1. re: nyawira

                    "I'm a she."
                    My apologies. Should have known especially the dislike of J's - couldn't drag my wife there. She also avoids FG like the plague. There are some places I have to go solo.

                1. re: Bob W

                  Well. In all fairness, I've only gone once. My husband and I ordered some chowder and then also a lobster roll. I recall being unimpressed. But, it's not the kind of ambience I'm looking for, sort of like, ever. The location is nothing special, and the space inside is nothing special. And so, unless the food is spectacular and set apart from other places serving the same menu but better, and in a better location, that's where I'm going. It's kind of like the kind of place I'd go to if I was starving on my way back from somewhere, didn't want to venture far from home, was driving down Forest Ave., didn't feel like Vietnamese, or Indian, or gross sandwiches, but really just wanted a lobster roll, I may stop for.

                  1. re: Bob W

                    Pretty much the same as nyawira--the location/ambiance. I really hate going out to that part of Forest Ave. I wish we had a good Vietnamese place in town for the same reason--

                    The food is good at the Fishermens Grill, I've eaten there a few times, but for such basic seafood prep, even lobster rolls or lobster stew, I'd rather make it at home. Where there is homemade brioche and a decent bottle of wine.

                    If I'm going out I'd rather spend my money on Eventide, or taking out of towners to Bite into Maine (whose last day of the season is sunday, btw).

                    1. re: sultanaboudreau

                      The complete lack of ambiance I can see being a turn-off. (But of course, I know there are plenty of CHers who would say, "you can't eat ambiance,") The location doesn't bother me in the least -- it's just a normal, non-touristy neighborhood. And since it's really set up more as a take-out place, you can take your lobster roll and eat it on the picturesque Maine promontory of your choice. 8<D

                      On our last visit we tried the "lobster cocktail" (think shrimp cocktail except with pristine rounds of chilled lobster meat). I think it was $16. Imagine what that would cost you with ambiance!

                      Definitely not a good choice for out-of-towners who want that "Maine experience" with their lobster roll.

                      1. re: Bob W

                        Personal opinion, I suppose! I'm a native Mainer and a local Portlander, and I'd still rather pay extra for ambiance if I'm eating out. Or pay a few bucks a pound for lobster I can cook perfectly in my backyard.

                        1. re: Bob W

                          Let me rephrase! I should not have said that I don't like FG. That's not the case at all. It's merely that when I go out for a meal, which is fairly infrequently, I would select a place for the holistic experience, which is inclusive of ambience. :-)

                          1. re: nyawira

                            And similarly, I would not take non-CHers to FG, ever. Not many places are literally only about the food, but this is one of them. Of course it's not a place where you go out to "dine out." If we lived in Portland it would be takeout only for us for sure. We get to Portland once or twice a year and it's in our lunch rotation. For nice meals we pick among the usual suspects downtown.

                            1. re: Bob W

                              Well stated. I'm an almost exclusive take-out guy when it comes to FG. If I have guests who are in town for more than, say, 3 days, then maybe I'll take them there (sans wife) specifically to hit a dive restaurant with great food. There are many friends/relatives who I would never take there.

                              1. re: bobbert

                                bobbert, on a related note, what are your thoughts about Jameson's Tavern in Freeport -- which some readers may not know is now owned by the original FG owner? The reviews on Yelp, FWIW, post ownership change, are really good. I actually sent Yelp a note explaining that keeping old reviews up, many one-star, when the place has undergone a complete makeover, menu change, ownership change, etc., is really not fair to anyone and in fact is quite misleading.

                                If the food is good, that's a place I'd take non-CHers.

                                1. re: Bob W

                                  I've only been twice, both times for an order of fried clams to go. Both times were off peak hours and both time they were as good as when he was at FG. There has been some not-so-positive feedback on some other threads both from regulars on this board and some visitors. Not sure if the negatives occurred more at busier times as that place can get slammed but there were enough of them from people I trust for me to take a neutral stance towards recommending it. The most recent trend has been towards the positive so I'm hopeful that he's settling in a bit and has got over the hump of going from one man show to legit restaurant.
                                  Fingers crossed.

                                  Especially now that the summer mobs are gone, I'd give it a shot especially if I were taking folks from away to LL Bean anyway. The old FG standards make up a fraction of the otherwise standard pub like menu.

                    2. re: sultanaboudreau

                      I don't live in Maine but on a recent visit had several enjoyable meals at Jameson Tavern. Did not have a lobster roll there but everything we had was really good.

                      1. re: sultanaboudreau

                        I've never been to Jamieson's Tavern. It is now on my list! Thanks.

                        I just recently had the Bite into Maine lobster roll. It was quite spectacular. In every way...the roll, the temperature of the lobster, the quality of the lobster, the just right size, just right amount of butter. Just perfect.

              2. Just an fyi if you haven't been to the old port just before thanksgiving. It's like homecoming and gets quite packed. Not sure if the college/post college crowd will work its way to Boones or Eventide but there's no doubt that parking will be tougher than usual.

                4 Replies
                1. re: bobbert

                  Good to know, Bobbert. Thanks. I note that Eventide takes reservations for over six. There will be six of us. And there will be more like 15 for Boones. I will be sure to try to snag reservations.

                  1. re: bobbert

                    Boone's does have those coveted restaurant-side parking spots that they hire ninjas to protect from squatters or whatever...

                    1. re: sultanaboudreau

                      And if I were making reservations for 15 at Boones I'd ask that they reserve a few of their limited parking spots for me. It's the least they could do for a likely $600+ tab.

                      1. re: bobbert

                        Great idea. Last question...has anyone had the lobster rolls at Porthole?

                  2. Bite Into Maine food truck at Fort Williams Park is THE way to go for traditional or fusion lobster rolls:
                    Don't take my word for it, here's Food & Wine's:
                    and if you're concerned with ambiance, check out the view below. A walk along the shore, or even a drive through on a blustery day is a must-do when visiting Maine, even if it weren't for the lobster rolls!
                    Their website says hours are 12-6 daily May-November, closed Tuesdays, but I'd call to be safe: 207-420-0294
                    I am in no way affiliated with Bite Into Maine, just a fan!!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: josiahbabcock

                      Agree with all the great things said about Bite Into Maine. Only problem is their last day was at the end of last month. I spoke with them on my last trip and they did say they would be at Sunday River on the mountain at North Peak this winter. You'll need a lift ticket to get your Bite Into Maine fix.

                      1. re: bobbert

                        Thanks, Bobbert! They really should update their website. It does say to call, but it also clearly says may-november, and that's misleading.

                        1. re: josiahbabcock

                          Yes, it's a bummer. I actually asked them if they would be around Thanksgiving week and they told me they would update their location on their Facebook page as the date got closer. I actually also just today went on their facebook page to see if they've made any decisions. Unfortunately, Sunday river won't work for me, so my family will have to miss the greatest lobster rolls ever devised. I've kind of settled on Gilbert's for the first night and Boones for the second night and then brunch at the Porthole.

                    2. I see that the Blue Rooster has replaced the Lobster Banh Mi with....

                      Creole Lobster Roll
                      Maine Lobster, lettuce, remoulade, cherry peppers, scallion, toasted New England roll

                      Can someone please get over there and try one and tell me how good it is? Thanks much.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Bob W

                        Not serving it anymore this season. Was there yesterday and asked about It. The lobster roll thing is more geared towards the touristy crowd in season.

                        1. re: bobbert

                          Thanks bobbert -- since I'm part of the touristy crowd (despite my deep Portland roots, my great-great-grandparents are buried in the little Mt Sinai cemetary on Hicks St, right near Maury Povich's ancestors) I hope to be able to try it next summer. While I am somewhat of a lobster roll traditionalist, I have enough faith in BR to give their New Orleans lob roll variation a try (along with more of those Brussels sprouts).