Fresh Maine Lobster. Photo courtesy of Kelley Martin.
Who makes the best lobster roll in the world? Or America, at least? Lobster lovers are aiming to answer that question tomorrow, June 7th 2012, in New York City at the third annual Tasting Table “Lobster Roll Rumble.”
Two time champion, Luke’s make a great roll and run a brilliant business. I like that they source their lobsters directly from Maine lobster fishermen, with no middlemen or distributers. Most of their lobster comes straight from the hardworking lobster fishing villages of Milbridge, Stonington, Vinalhaven, Boothbay Harbor or Casco Bay Harbor. Their lobster roll, as mentioned on The Today Show includes the essentials – a generous portion of fresh Maine lobster meat and a split-top bun.
Beyond that, it’s just details! Speaking of details, the recipe for Luke’s Lobster roll is as follows:
Luke’s Lobster Roll Recipe
- 1/4 pound fresh Maine lobster meat
- Spoonful of mayonnaise
- Drizzle of butter, melted
- New England-style hot dog bun
- Pinch of celery salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- Pinch oregano
The Clam Shack
The Clam Shack are the only Maine-based lobster roll contender. I don’t know their recipe but I do know if you order their lobster roll kit it comes with their special brand of mayonnaise. The Clam Shack was also recently mentioned as one of the top 10 lobster shacks in Maine by Travel and Leisure Magazine.
Ditch Plains are another NYC-based contender. They use a bit of aioli in their mix which always tastes lovely on lobster. As a unique twist, they also butter the inside of their rolls. Their official lobster roll recipe is:
Ditch Plains Lobster Roll Recipe
- 2 pounds of lobster meat, approximately three to four lobsters
- 3/4 cup mayo
- 1/4 cup dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoons roasted garlic
- 1 tablespoons tarragon, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- 1 cup celery fine dice
- 1/3 cup scallions sliced
- 1 teaspoons old bay seasoning
- Lemon, halved
- 1 onion, halved
- 3 ribs of celery, rough chopped
- 2 cups of white wine
- Black pepper
B and G are Boston-based and their lobster roll twist seems to be the addition of lemon. Their official lobster roll recipe is:
B and G Oysters Lobster Roll Recipe
- 4 lobsters, each about 1 1/4 pounds
- 1 cup lemon aioli or 1 cup mayonnaise mixed with 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup peeled, very finely chopped celery
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 top-split hot dog rolls (I like Pepperidge Farm)
- 4 tablespoons or a 1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
Freddy’s Lobsters + Clams:
Maryland-based Freddy’s lobster roll is compact, but there’s no filler (like celery), and it’s served on the perfect bun—toasted, buttered and substantial enough to hold a hearty portion of claw and tail meat. There is a chilled version, with lemony, paprika mayonnaise dressing, and a warm version topped with butter.
Brooklyn-based Red Hook Lobster Pound also source their lobster meat from Maine. They also prepare their lobster rolls in two ways – Maine or Connecticut style.
BLT Fish Shack:
Based in NYC, BLT Fish Shack’s lobster roll has a denser bun then the typical Maine style, but it is seasoned and dressed the same.
- The Hungry Cat
- Island Creek Oyster Bar
- The John Dory Oyster Bar
- JCT. Kitchen & Bar
- Lobster Joint
- The Mermaid Inn
- Lure Fishbar
- Mary’s Fish Camp
- Sam’s Chowder House
- Smack Shack
- Thames Street Oyster Bar and Waterbar Restaurant
While I love the way the chefs of today are getting creative with their interpretations of the lobster roll, my motto for the perfect lobster roll is “simple is best.” As mentioned in my new book, How To Catch A Lobster In Down East Maine, the classic Maine lobster roll can be made with as little as four elements: butter, bread roll, mayo and, of course, lobster. I recommend using JJ Nissan rolls, which have exposed sides, perfect for slathering with butter before toasting. In the book I also include a more creative interpretation of the lobster roll which includes celery, parsley, lemon, shallots, chives and mayonnaise.