February 15, 2011
(Is she done talking about lobster rolls yet? Nope, not yet…)
Now that we’ve covered NYC lobster rolls (at least, for the moment), let’s talk Boston lobster rolls. As I mentioned in a previous post, lobster rolls are really a New England thing and New York, albeit close in distance, is just not quite close enough.
NYC’s lobster rolls got nothin’ on Boston’s.
When looking up restaurants for my weekend trip to Boston with my favorite “sister” Jenn, Neptune Oyster in the North End was the one place everyone seemed to agree on. The wait was supposed to be long (some reviews quoted wait times in hours), but the food was supposed to be worth it. In particular, I was told to order at least one of the three following things:
- Anything from their raw bar
- Their clam chowder
- Their lobster roll
(Of course, we ordered all three.)
We got lucky on the wait – we arrived about half an hour after they opened and immediately snagged two seats at their counter. If we had arrived 15-20 minutes longer, there would have been a crowd waiting at the door and people meandering in and out, putting their names on an ever-growing list. The place is small so keep that in mind if you ever show up yourself.
(My favorite – the kumamoto)
We started off our meal with two oysters apiece – one kumamoto and one kusshi. I slurped the clean and briny kusshi first and the sweet and creamy kumamoto second. (I just recently discovered my love for kumamotos and wanted to savor that flavor as long as I could.) A perfect start!
The clam chowder was served next. Little cubes of potato and celery floated around in the thin soup and plump clams rested at the bottom of the shallow bowl. I wish the soup base was a tad thicker (for heartiness sake) but the clams were fantastically fresh.
(Butter is better!)
Lastly – the pièce de résistance – the lobster rolls. Like some of the other lobster roll places I’ve been to, we were given the option of a cold roll with mayo or hot roll with butter. We ordered one of each and split the two plates between the two of us. (Note to self: I need to stop ordering the cold mayo rolls; I like the hot buttery ones exponentially better! Why do I insist on tasting the mayo ones!?)
These were some of the largest lobster rolls I had ever seen. I was full after half and, after two halves, thought I was OD’ing on lobster. (I never thought you could OD on lobster, but I came close!) Like all the other seafood we had at Neptune Oyster, the lobster was fresh, sweet and meaty and the warm roll sopped up all the dripping juices, making it a delicious buttery sponge of goodness. Definitely the best lobster roll I’ve had in life thus far.
Okay, now that I’ve had lobster rolls in NYC and Boston, the next stop is Maine…
63 Salem St
Boston, MA 02113
February 15, 2011
(Since I feel like talking about NYC lobster rolls some more…)
Pearl Oyster Bar is supposed to be another heavy-weight in the NYC lobster roll arena but honestly, compared to Red Hook Lobster Pound and Luke’s Lobster, I don’t think it can handle the competition.
(Yes, I know this picture is horrific and poorly taken.)
First off, its lobster rolls are priced at “market price”, which ends up being a good $5-10 more than Red Hook’s and Luke’s. However, the size of its rolls (in comparison) does not increase in proportion with the increase in price. (I’m sorry, I’m cheap and I like to get the best bang for my buck.) Secondly, it smothers the lobster with mayo which is a big no-no for my personal palate. If I’m having lobster, I’d like to be able to taste it in its all-natural glory. Therefore, when we’re talking about lobster rolls, Pearl Oyster Bar is out of the competition.
My qualms with its lobster rolls aside though, Pearl Oyster Bar has some good food.
The clam chowder, for example, is hearty, with a hint of bacon. It is slightly thinner than your typical chowder but it’s still tasty.
Even better than the clam chowder? A bucket of steamers. Peel the the thick skin off the neck of the clam, give it a couple swishes in clam water to wash off the sand and grit and then dunk the whole thing in melted butter.
There is nothing better than fresh seafood prepared simply – just stick with the raw and steamed and you should be fine.
Pearl Oyster Bar
18 Cornelia St
New York, NY 10014
February 15, 2011
Let’s talk lobster rolls.
Before visiting the East Coast, I had no idea what a lobster roll was. I had never even heard about lobster rolls. It’s originally a New England-y food (due to the abundance of lobster out there?) and is, very simply, lobster meat stuffed inside a roll.
Get it? Lobster meat + roll = Lobster roll.
I think I’ve eaten more lobster in the past four months than I had in the year prior, solely because of the number of lobster rolls I’ve inhaled since moving to NYC. There are quite a number of places in Manhattan and Brooklyn that specialize in these babies, but here are two of my favorites if you’re around the area:
Red Hook Lobster Pound
Out of all the lobster roll places in and around NYC, Red Hook currently reigns supreme for me. It’s a trek to Red Hook from my little apartment in Hell’s Kitchen but it’s worth it. As soon as you walk in, you’re smacked in the face with the aroma of melted butter…If that isn’t a good sign, I don’t know what is.
Red Hook Lobster Pound serves two different types of lobster rolls: the Maine and the Connecticut. The Maine is a cold lobster roll with mayo; the Connecticut is a hot roll with butter.
(…mayo is nice…)
The Maine roll is great because the mayo flavor isn’t overpowering; there’s just enough to make it a savory bundle of goodness but not so much that you feel like you’re eating a heavy lobster salad. However, I’m personally not a huge fan of the temperature of the roll – it’s a personal preference and I just don’t like cold lobster.
(…but butter is always better…)
On the flipside of the Maine is the Connecticut, which I think is the hands down winner between the two. A warm, toasty roll soaks all the dripping melted butter and the lobster meat just tastes sweeter than its mayo-covered counterpart.
Note: Although the lobster rolls at Red Hook are not to be missed, feel free to pass on the lobster bisque. Not creamy enough for a satisfyingly thick bisque, not flavorful enough for a rich broth, the soup falls a bit flat. It does come with huge chunks of lobster meat floating in it but if you’re looking for meat, you might as well order another roll.
Luke’s Lobster holds a place in my heart as my first lobster roll ever. It also happens to be the best place in the city to go when you want a lobster roll.
Luke’s only serves one type of lobster roll - a chilled one with butter and a swipe of mayo on the roll itself rather than mixed with the lobster - but also has crab and shrimp rolls (similar concept, different shellfish). If you want to try all three, their taste of Maine platter solves that problem. (As you can see in the picture below, the sandwiches are small though and only good for a bite or two.)
For me, Luke’s rolls come second to Red Hook because, somehow, the lobster in their rolls are not sweet as Red Hook’s Connecticut or as savory as the Maine. To tell you the truth, the first time I went, I actually preferred the shrimp roll to the lobster one. (I know – blasphemy, right?) However, with three locations in the city, it’s the most convenient way of satisfying your lobster roll fix.
Note: If you go to Luke’s during the holiday season, order a pumpkin pie soda if it’s available. If you love pumpkin pie, this deliciously bubbly beverage has those same hints of all-spice that you’ll love. (Sadly, it’s a seasonal drink – I haven’t been able to find since last year!)