Friday, June 6, 2014

New England's Best Lobster Rolls? Red's Eats, Wiscasset, Maine

A short line does not equal a short wait.  
Going anywhere and ordering a lobster roll is like asking a performer to audition with something by Irving Berlin. It provides a consistent unit of measurement that gauges not only competence but also attitude.

How good are the goods?  Is the delivery generous or skimpy?  Is there faith in the material?  Or are there too many stylized additions and distractions?

Of course, trying to answer the question "who makes New England's best lobster roll" is a pleasure as much for the journey as the destination.  Expensive restaurants do not have an advantage over local establishments.  And overall, an average lobster roll is still pretty good.

Rhode Island's Ocean House Lobster Roll:  Too busy, too expensive, not enough quality
Red's Eats: Perfect - No mayonnaise, no seasoning, just a full pound of lobster meat in every roll

Having said that, Red's Eats in Wiscasset, Maine, continues to shine by serving what many consider to be the best lobster roll in New England.   The lobster is the star, fresh, copious, and unadulterated.

The only reason not to get a lobster roll every drive by is the line. So it may be wise to bring some reading material while you wait, like Anna Karenina, De Profundis, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, or A New Kind of Science.

In Wiscasset Since 1954


One can eat while enjoying the views of the Sheepscot River and the interesting traffic of Route 1 - boat hauling and logging trucks.

And afterwards you can walk about the architecturally significant town of Wiscasset.



Other Sources of Lobster Rolls Mentioned in TDP Comment Section

Maine
  • Damariscotta: Larson's
  • Kennebunkport: Port Lobster
  • Trevett: Country Store
New Hampshire
  • No. Hampton: The Beach Plum
Massachusetts
  • Buzzards Bay: Seafood Shanty
  • Mattapoisett: Oxford Creamery
  • Nantucket: Straight Wharf Fish Store
  • Orleans,: Cap't Cass Rock Harbor Seafood
  • Popponesset: The Raw Bar
Vermont
  • Burlington: Henry's Diner
Rhode Island
  • Jamestown: The Shack at Dutch Harbor Boat Yard
  • Newport: Lobster Bar
  • Watch Hill: The Deli Across From Watch Hill Harbor
Connecticut
  • Madison: Lenny & Joe's
  • Mystic: Abbott's
  • Westbrook: Lenny & Joe's
East Ferry Deli, Jamestown, RI: Average

30 comments:

Joyce N said...

That looks scrumptious! Wish I were there to treat you and your family to rolls and have a walk around.

WRJ said...

The real question is: Maine style (light spread or toss in mayonnaise, lobster room temperature, but NOT lobster salad) or Connecticut style (hot lobster with drawn butter on a buttered roll)? I'll take either, but I imagine battle lines are sharply drawn on the issue. I like a simple lobster salad roll, too, but those are entirely different can of worms.

mary anne said...

Mmmm if I were on death row lobster roll would be my final meal. Of course the view wouldn't be as nice

Patsy said...

Muffy, I rarely disagree with you, but the best lobster rolls are at The Raw Bar at Popponesset. Hands down. The best. Ever.

Happy Chappy said...

They certainly aren't found here in Vermont! Those lilacs in the last shot are absolutely gorgeous.

John G said...

Well, to paraphrase Anna Karenina, all happy lobster rolls are alike, all unhappy lobster rolls are unhappy in their own way -- too much mayonnaise, too little meat, just claw, etc. There are excellent Connecticut style rolls, so the first statement isn't quite true, but the point remains, as I stand firmly in the Maine camp.

Beyond Red's, some favorites include Port Lobster in Kennebunkport, the Straight Wharf Fish Store on Nantucket, Oxford Creamery in Mattapoisett, and for those dealing with traffic trying to get on Cape, Seafood Shanty on Rt. 6 between the bridges (left side if you're traveling towards Sagamore) makes a nice lobster roll and excellent fried clams and scallops.

Mark said...

I am a huge fan of Lobster Bar in Newport, Rhode Island - their lobster rolls are enormous, fairly priced and extremely fresh.

Laurie Ann said...

I agree with Red's being at the top of the list and Wiscasset is also one of my favorite towns. I think I need a trip to Maine!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, eating at Red's requires getting to Red's - a daunting trip during the summer. Larson's in Damariscotta and the Trevett Store are both very good, and take the bridge out of play.

Paul Connors said...

Muffy.

Did you perhaps use a 3D camera to shoot the lobster rolls? :-)

You can actually see the texture of the lobster and the rich color of the meat.

You seem to be non-committal as to your favorite. Would you share it with us?

Morgan Munroe said...

I adore Captain Cass's lobster roll in Orleans, MA Rock Harbor. It is truly a no frills place, but everything is fresh.

JDS said...

Muffy -
We were at Red's last September on our way to South Bristol, Friday of Labor Day weekend. We waited about an hour and a half. Yes they were good. Red's is a landmark place. We were told that the place down by the river, behind the white pickup on your photo, is cheaper and more lobster. I still prefer my lobster hot with drawn butter. Your making me hungry. Wegman's here in PA has lobster roll on their pub menu.

PDX Sailor said...

Have you tried the lobster roll at The Shack at Dutch Harbor Boat Yard in Jamestown. Maybe the best I have eaten

Deb said...

Happy Chappy have you not visited Henry's Diner in Burlington? They've had lobster rolls for years. Not quite as stunning as these, but good.

Mark Loveland said...

Dear Muffy,

If you ever visit the CT coast line -- you graciously covered the C.W. Morgan only weeks ago -- we have in the Mystic proximity Abbott's, and in the Mid-Sound sector, we also have Lenny-&-Joe's of both Westbrook as well as Madison ....

Anonymous said...

I completely agree that Red's Eats wins the prize for best lobster roll! I highly recommend the melted butter choice. Very decadent! Their fried clams are some of the best I've ever had. It is so worth the trip to Maine. Next door, there is a cute general store to poke around in.Up the street, there are art galleries and antiques. Stopped in Wiscasset last year on the way to Bar Harbor, and plan to make the pilgrimage again this year.

darkirishtweedboy said...


I'm planning to visit Maine second week of September. I'd love to try a lobster roll as I've always vowed I'd never eat lobster until I'm in Maine. Will Red's still be open in September?

Anonymous said...

There’s no question in my mind when it comes to lobster, simple is better. Red’s Eats seems to have grasped that concept. The same formula can be applied to clams, both fried and steamed. And sole too; let the natural flavor of seafood speak for itself.

That looks like the Sortwell house in Wiscasset. I knew “old Pete” (Alvin F. Sortwell III) back in my Massachusetts days and recall his family had ancient ties to Maine.

Pete was a highly entertaining character and often boasted about getting the boot from boarding school for some minor adolescent infraction. I can’t remember what he did, but he was mighty proud of his accomplishment.

MGC

TDP said...

@Paul Connors - Cooked lobster and butter only, ie, Red's.

@darkirishtweedboy - They stay open until Columbus Day (Oct. 13th) so you should be fine.

@MGC - Yes that is the Nickels-Sortwell House. One of the Sortwell descendants is an old friend and spent his summers at the house with his grandparents.

Kelly said...

We're vegetarian, so no lobster rolls for us, but we did enjoy some excellent deep-fried green beans and other goodies from the place down the street from Red's, right on the river.

I can see what you mean though about the superiority of Red's rolls -- quality ingredients presented simply and in quantity. Whether it's green beans or lobster, Wiscasset knows how to eat!

Anonymous said...

I haven't eaten at most of the places on your list, but Captain Cass's on the Cape makes one fantastic lobster roll. And their scallop roll is just as good - maybe better!

Anonymous said...

Great pictures and list! One of the greatest blows of my life came a few months ago when I developed an allergy to all shellfish and had to stop eating lobster rolls among other favorites. The Red Hook lobster pound in NYC and DC brings lobster straight from Maine.

David P said...

Red's Eats lobster roll looks fantastic. I have to try one some day.

This talk of the best lobster roll is very reminiscent of the talk down here in Maryland about where to find the best crab cake. Interestingly, a great crab cake has similar qualities to a great lobster roll: meaty, not too much filler, the right seasoning, etc.

Anonymous said...

The line at Red's started getting longer after an article in the Down Easter about fifteen/twenty years ago. I am the only one in the family that does not eat shellfish, so in the drive through I head to Treats across the street which I love. Great food, fresh selection of baked goods, super nice staff, and always interesting people at the communal table.

snowysailor said...

Beach Plum, Rt 1A in Hampton Beach, NH, serves a 'mean' Lobster roll, well worth the trip!!!

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm obviously the lone dissident when it comes to lobster rolls. Back in the day, when I was a working gal in downtown Boston, I'd buy lobster rolls for lunch quite frequently (they were affordable back in the late 60's). They had mayonnaise in them, the sides of the split-top rolls were buttery & grilled & crunchy, & they were outstanding. So that's what I seek whenever I get the chance to order lobster rolls. I've tried them in Maine & disliked all of them (so dry!) except for one I had last fall at Testa's in Bar Harbor (it could've used a leeeetle bit more mayo). So here in No. VA, I get my lobstah rolls at Coastal Flats- they do them "right" IMO :>) AnnZ

CB said...

I'm surprised you did not include Lobster Landing in Clinton, CT but included Lenny & Joe's!

andrew said...

I vote for the York Beach Fish Market. Spartan and simple, plenty of lobster meat on a grilled hot dog roll. you make up in quality what it lacks in ambience (it's basically a fish market with a few picnic tables).

Anonymous said...

Would not say these are the best, however, in Cambridge Charlie's Kitchen 12.oo double lobster rolls are nice. Alive and Kicking does a nice Crab Sandwhich too.

Anonymous said...

Red's Eats are the worst! Kennebunkport has WAY better lobster rolls!