There are some real abortions here and yet I was pleasantly surprised to see some purists leave perfection alone and keep it simple.
Here’s a run-down and rating of all 20 Lobster Rolls served at the Tasting Table’s 2013 Lobster Roll Rumble-
I should clarify ahead of time that there can be accompaniments of different ingredients on the side of the lobster roll but in no way shape or form should the crazy ingredients be in or touch your lobster roll. Let’s get to it-
Click the links for photos of each lobster roll at http://newyork.seriouseats.com/
Served on a housemade brioche, and alongside housemade pickles, Waterbar’s lobster roll was made from Nova Scotia lobsters topped simply with melted butter and salt.
Interesting that a joint from frou frou California didn’t get all crazy with stupid rolls or avocado or some other trendy ingredient. Big points for simplicity and I’m interested in the idea of topping lightly with some sea salt.
The Mermaid Inn (New York, NY) Rating 6.8
A buttered Martin’s potato roll is the vehicle for lobster tossed with Hellman’s mayonnaise, celery, onion, and Old Bay seasoning, and finished with a sprinkling of chives.
Celery- deduction, onion- deduction, old bay seasoning-deduction, chives- deduction. The Mermaid Inn didn’t get wayyyy crazy off base with those ingredients but they all detract from the star of the show- the lobster.
The Galley Restaurant and Pub (Naples, ME) Rating 7.3
The Galley served their lobster in a top-split bun, tossed with mayo and with a green leaf lettuce; the lemon salt seasoning on top of this lobster roll gave a zesty bite to the sandwich, the fresh lemon wedge served on the side even more so.
Again, points for staying simple with the classic split top bun. But hard core green lettuce, and lemon? You put lemon on fish when you don’t want to taste the fish. There’s no need to mask the perfection of lobster meat with lemon.
The Clam Shack (Kennebunk, ME) Rating 9.8
As last year’s winner, the Clam Shack had a lot to live up to this time around. They did their reputation proud, using fresh lobster and a sweet roll from Maine’s Reilly’s Bakery, and offering their lobster roll with either melted butter, a swipe of of mayo, or both.
If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you’ve already been educated on what makes the perfect lobster roll perfect- the simplicity of the ingredients. There’s a reason the Clam Shack in Kennebunk ME won last year, They didn’t go out of their way to fuck up perfection with stupid shit like scallions and paprika and celery and lemon, ect, ect, ect… Brilliant!
Thames Street Oyster House (Baltimore, MD) Rating 7.8
Using a rich combo of butter-poached lobster and a brioche roll, Thames Street Oyster House served a refreshing cucumber and onion salad alongside their roll to help balance the butteriness.
Cucumber and onion salad alongside. This sounds like a solid lobster roll from the description but once you click on the link and see the picture you see these fuckers snuck some chopped chives on top there.
Rat bastards, thought I wouldn’t notice, huh?
Red Hook Lobster Pound (Brooklyn, NY) Rating 4.8
The Red Hook Lobster Pound was using a top-split, New England-style bun from Country kitchen, and stuffed it with lobsters tossed with homemade lemon mayo, iceberg lettuce, paprika, and scallions for a cool, crunchy lobster roll.
OK now where starting to get into crazytown territory. They started out with the split top but but it all falls to shit after that. Homemade lemon mayo-FAIL, iceberg lettuce-FAIL, paprika-FAIL, and scallions FAIL FUCKITY FAIL FAIL FAIL. What a shamockery.
L&W Oyster Co. (New York, NY) Rating 2.3
Lobster folded with sriracha mayo and pickled celery root, then served atop arugula and a Parker House roll. A dusting of lobster bottarga and a side of homemade goldfish crackers finished off the roll from this Flatiron restaurant.
You’re kidding me, right www.newyork.seriouseats.com/ with back to back abomination lobster rolls in your lobster roll rumble slide show?
Lobster folded with sriracha mayo and pickled celery root?????? The chefs that entered this dreck should not have been allowed into the building and earned themselves a lifetime ban from all future lobster roll competitions!!!! Then after they throw the sriracha mayo and pickled celery root they go and kick you in the nuts with ARUGULA????? Goldfish Fucking Crackers?????
There are no words for the contempt I have for the types of people who go and bastardize the lobster roll I love and hold so dear to my heart as these chef/criminals. They should be stripped of any culinary credentials once bestowed upon them and sentenced to a lifetime serving cold soup in Turkish prisons.
Lure Fishbar (New York, NY) Rating 5.9
Lure went all-out with their roll, sandwiching mayo-dressed lobster with a strip of bacon and a single potato chip, before stuffing it in a mini potato roll.
Bacon by itself may be only second to lobster by itself. The two together, take away from each other. I’m not even gonna go into the potato chip on a lobster roll thing.
The only contender to offer a gluten-free roll, LUNCH’s lobster roll was otherwise served in a toasted, potato slider bun, and tossed with Hellman’s mayo, celery, and salt.
Listen Lobster Roll Restaurant a.k.a. “Lunch” I get that you’re trying to be different with your whole gluten-free lobster roll, glomming on to the whole Gluten-Free trend but wasn’t that like 2011 with the Gluten-Free craze?
You know the people who go around saying that you can make stuff that’s gluten-free that tastes just as good as the stuff that’s loaded with gluten? All certifiable nutjobs. Every one of them. You know the saying “Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining?” That’s the equivalent of some Gluten-Free chef telling you that you’ll never taste the difference between gluten-free cooking and regular traditional cooking.
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times, the key to a great lobster roll is the simplicity of the ingredients and not going off the rails with some newfangled trendy bullshit ingredient or cooking style.
Luke’s Lobster (New York, NY) Rating 7.7
Whole chunks of lobster claw was stuffed in a top-split bun at Luke’s stand. Each roll was made to order, with a swipe of mayo on the inside, lemon butter and secret seasoning on top.
Not terrible, in fact quite good but I prefer a mixture of claw/tail/knuckle meat to strictly claw meat where you get that one section of claw meat that can sometimes be a little spongy in texture. A decent showing though.
The Lobster Joint (New York, NY) Rating 6.6
The Greenpoint-based Lobster Joint was serving a New England-style roll, with lobster tossed with mayo, celery, and tarragon, and on a toasted top-split bun from Brooklyn Standard Bakery.
They were doing so well and then they had to go and mess it up with celery and tarragon.
Repeat after me- Leave outr The Paprika, Leave out the Old Bay, Leave out The Tarragon, Leave out the Parsley, Basil, Rosemary and Thyme. When you get the sudden urge to add any of these ingredients to your lobster roll clamp on some electrodes to your testicles and crank up the amperage to just before your nuts are fried (point being we really don’t want you to reproduce).
The Baja Lobster Roll served by Little Market was a sweeter, spicier take on the traditional. Tossed with chipotle aioli and line with a cabbage slaw, the roll is then topped with chopped chives, tarragon, and a lemon vinaigrette.
I suppose I should be way more outraged but then I looked at where this restaurant was located. Chicago. Like the same Chicago whose Blackhawks the Bruins are gonna mop the floor with in the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals. How can you hate on folks that simply don’t know any better. If this was a steak rating competition then I’d lay down the lumber on these poor seafood uneducated fools. But they’re from Chicago and since they obviously don’t know any better we will let them wallow around watching our Bruins lay a monster beat down on them while they dine on bastardized ridiculous can’t-let-perfect-enough-alone lobster roll feculence known to man.
Kittery of Brooklyn (Brooklyn, NY)Rating 6.8
Using tail, claw, and knuckle meat, Kittery of Brooklyn made an herbaceous lobster roll, served with a generous amount of chopped chives and tarragon and in a toasted New England style top-split bun.
Once again started out strong, tail, claw and knuckle meat but then met disaster with chopped chives and terragon. there’s worse out there as Little Market American Brasserie and L&W Oyster bar have demonstrated.
Ford’s Fish Shack (Ashburn, VA) Rating 6.7
Ford’s was serving their lobster rolls two ways: Connecticut-style, with warm butter, and Maine-style, chilled and dressed with mayo. Both styles were served on a garlicky, top-split bun from Maryland’s Uptown Bakery, and topped with chives and Old Bay seasoning.
Sigh, another victim of chives and Old Bay- DEDUCTION!!!!!
Eventide Oyster Co. (Portland, Maine) Rating 3.1
Eventide was serving their browned butter lobster with lemon juice, chives, and salt, and in between a housemade, Chinese-style steamed bun.Softer than most of the rolls at the rumble, the nutty brown butter paired well with the fresh, briny of the lobster.
You have to click on the link to appreciate how messed up the rolls they used for these lobster rolls.
OMG, you can’t make this shit up!!!! Look at the picture in the link for Eventide’s lobster roll pic. Observe the Chinese-style steamed bun and join me in belly laughing them way out of the building. Chives, nutty brown butter, lemon juice- all lobster roll no-nos. But this Chinese-style steamed bun takes the cake. Good luck with that wimpy white soggy ass steamed roll holding up. I pity the fool who has to consume these lobster rolls.
Portland Maine, be better than this.
Ditch Plains (New York, NY) Score 0 (this is not even a lobster roll) Fail
Marc Murphy served the least lobster-y rolls of the night, with a Sabrett hot dog on a Martin’s potato roll, topped with a generous heaping of lobster mac and cheese. With lobster butter made with lobster roe, and American, Swiss, and Parmesan cheese, this roll had all the richness with of a traditional lobster roll.
I suppose I really didn’t have to read anything after “Marc Murphy served the least lobster-y rolls of the night” but I did and lo and behold we go on to find out they’re serving mac and cheese.
Did the rules of the contest say best lobster mac and cheese Lobster rumble? Uhmmm no. It was the Lobster Roll Rumble. If you can’t even get the dish right you really may as well not show up and consider yourself uninvited next year because clearly there are lobster roll purists taking this thing way more seriously than a chef that can’t even understand what the heck we’re cooking here. Sheesh!
Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar (New York, NY) Rating 2.5
One of the richer lobster rolls of the night, Cull & Pistols rolls are are first poached in lobster butter, made from a lobster reduction, brandy, and melted butter. The lobsters are served Connecticut style: warm, atop green leaf lettuce on a custom-made Arnold New England roll.
Look at the picture and you’ll see one of the cardinal sins of lobster roll production. it’s bad enough that you insult us with anything green touching our lobster rolls (this includes celery, parsley, chives, avocado, arugula, iceberg or romaine lettuce)
The green stuff in the lobster roll is a violation in and of itself but then when you make the ratio of lobster meat to green stuff favor the green stuff???? That’s just plain insulting. How do you even look at yourself in the mirror after jipping your customers or judges by trying to load up on the cheap stuff to try and fill your lobster roll? That’s just lobster roll 101 as a lobster roll consumer. You see more green stuff than lobster meat as a consumer and you know that that chef is a dastardly thief and should never be trusted to prepare you a dish again so long as you live.
For Shame Cull and Pistol Oyster Bar!!! For Shame!!!!
Cousins Fresh Maine Lobster (Pasadena, CA) Rating 8.6
Using the knuckle, claw, and tail meat from Maine lobsters, Cousins’ lobster roll is simply served with melted butter, salt, and lemon juice.
They almost had it! They were so close but then they had to put on the lemon juice. Still a valiant effort and especially from a joint in California where as we know from past experience they have a tendency to try to get all fancy and put in strange ingredients
ahem I’m talkin bout you “Broads in California” -
Bite into Maine (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) Rating 6.9
Using New England-style, top-split buns from a Portland bakery, this roll was lined with a bed of coleslaw, fresh lobster meat, then drizzled with butter and salt.
Once again, very close, but deductions for coleslaw in the bun. How hard is it to keep that stuff off to the side so you can maintain the integrity of the bun without it getting all soggy?
B&G Oysters (Boston, MA) Rating 6.5
B&G’s lobster was served on a toasted Pepperidge roll, and lightly dressed with lemon mayonnaise, celery, and chives.
Lemon, celery, chives. Sigh….
The Joey C Lobster Roll Nazi Winner
The Clam Shack (Kennebunk, ME) Rating 9.8
Brilliant, Stunning in it’s simplicity, congratulations Clam Shack In Portland Maine!