Tag Archives: lobster roll

Eventide in Portland, Maine

8 Nov

Right before embarking on our whirlwind tour of venues in Maine, we spent a night in Portland, Maine with a new friend, the photographer and husband of the editor for Eater Maine (whose last name happens to be the same as mine, though surprisingly, no relation). 

He recommended we visit a favorite of Eater Maine, Eventide Oyster Co.  Eventide  is the sister restaurant of Maine staple, Hugo’s (where we ate for my birthday the day after, more on that later!)

They specialize in, you guessed it, oysters.

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They have many varieties and part of the bar itself is made up of the oysters on ice, with a shucker going to town behind the bar.

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They also have a great selection of local brews, and we were finally able to try Oxbow.  This quickly became one of our favorite beers and we drank a lot of it on this road trip!

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We went with half a dozen Winter Points and half a dozen Basket Island oysters (both local to Maine).  These were fantastic, though I really loved the Winter Points.

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We then tried the Eventide Lobster Roll and the Fried Oyster Bun.

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They were served in more of a steamed bun (like a Chinese pork bun consistency) and everything was flavored so insanely well.  This was not your classic lobster roll, but it was nice to have a new spin on an old classic.  Mike and I weren’t very hungry, so we split both of them, but boy oh boy did I regret not having my own.  They were so damn good.  

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And even the bathrooms stayed on theme.

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I was really impressed by Eventide.  They are doing new things with good food and everyone there is excited to be doing what they are doing.  The vibe is great and the food far surpasses expectations.  I can’t wait to go back.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

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Brooklyn Diner- “The Finer Diner”

7 Aug

We take clients out to all sorts of fancy restaurants, so when we had one request a trip to Brooklyn Diner, we quizzically agreed. We can go any place in Manhattan and you want to go to a diner? A diner called Brooklyn Diner? Which is in Time Square? And has the tagline “The Finer Diner?”

Well… ok…

Brooklyn Diner is the classic Times Square establishment with such a bright neon sign that it blends right in to the rest of the block. When we entered, I realize it’s part of a family of restaurants including Redeye Grill, Tratoria Dell’Arte, and Bond 45, all of which are in the general vicinity of midtown.  Turns out, I’ve been to all of their restaurants except Brooklyn Diner, and was actually quite fond of the restaurant family.  The food at each was always reliably good, if not above par for Times Square.  All are more than any normal person would ever want to spend, but hell, it’s Times Square, so good quality food seemed fair at their price.

Back to “The Finer Diner.”  

After a bit of teasing about this pick, we found out that our client’s heard from some of their coworkers that this place was very good, and happened to have a really good lobster roll.  Well ok!

I actually wound up getting grilled cheese with split pea soup. It was a very chilly day and this hit the spot.  The bread was perfectly crisp, the cheese full of flavor and melty without being a mess, and the soup had great flavor.

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I shouldn’t have been so skeptical!

They put hot dogs in it too, which was a fun (and delicious) twist on ham.

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Everyone else went right for the lobster roll, which they all said was very good.  Even their fries and onion straws were especially crisp and tasty.

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I was pleasantly surprised by Brooklyn Diner.  I guess my expectations were quite low (I can be so judgmental sometimes!), but I would recommend this place to anyone in the area looking for a casual and relaxing lunch before a Broadway show.  

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Maine Cubed: Wiscasset- Red’s Eats

5 Jul

There are few places in Maine as “famous” as Red’s Eats.  It is a small stand on Rt. 1 in Wiscasset that serves lobster rolls known far and wide. I have seen lines that are over an hour long.

We were looking for lunch on our way up the highway and noticed that the line was only half a block long (very good by Red’s standards). So we found some parking and hopped on.

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Their lobster roll is known for having an entire lobster’s worth of meat inside and made the “authentic” Maine way with lobs of meat on a toasted hotdog bun. It comes with butter or mayo on the side to dip in.  The “authentic” lobster roll is a point of contention, with some people saying it needs 1 leaf of lettuce and/or some mayo mixed in, but Red’s is really all about the meat.

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You step up to a window and suddenly notice that there are about a million people inside this little shack

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We ordered the fried clams along with our lobster roll.

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The clams were quite delicious. Juicy and flavorful with a decent crisp on the fry. Some were a little soggy, but overall it was a good dish of food.

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And then the lobster roll. You can even see the bun under there through all the lobster meat! And you will notice that there is a tail on either side.  Very good on the lobster meat, but I just always prefer a steamed lobster I crack myself to a roll.

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I’m glad we stopped at Red’s, but I can’t say I’m itching to go back. I can’t say it was the best lobster roll I’ve ever had, but it was very good.

Maine Take 2: River House in Portsmouth, NH

18 Jun

One nice thing about road tripping to Maine from the TriState area is you drive right through Portsmouth, NH. Portsmouth is a beautiful town where you could probably spend a full vacation if you want to. In my family, however, it has always been a stop along the way.  We would get out of the car after about 5 hours driving up from Jersey, and as kids we went to the Children’s Museum to play before having lunch in town.

Now, as an adult, we skip right to the lunch and spend some time walking around the town. There are a number of restaurants lined up along the water, and this time we decided to try River House.  It has beautiful views and it’s great to be able to sit outside.

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And dream about the houses across the water.

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And watch the boats and the bridge. It’s really quite lovely.

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Their menu is extensive and varied.

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We started with the warm lobster artichoke dip. Lobster and artichokes are 2 of my favorite food, so I was thrilled.

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And I loved that it came with big ol’ chunks of lobster in it.

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We also tried something on a skewer.  I wish I remembered what this was… but 2 years later, it has evaporated (and we already know about the fate of the notebook I bought).

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One person in our party got The Cowboy Burger, which was dusted with Cowboy Ranch seasoning, chargrilled, topped with spicy Pepper Jack cheese on a toasted Brioche roll, finished with crisp onion straws, and a side of their house made Chipotle ketchup. He really enjoyed this burger.

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We also got a swiss burger with sweet potato fries.

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And my sister and I split The Tall Ships Plate, which was a 6 inch sweet Maine lobster roll on a grilled brioche bun with a cup of chowder and some sweet potato fries.

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The lobster roll was made the way I like it… on a roll with plenty of butter, one leaf of lettuce, and big chunks of lobster that weren’t drowning in mayo.  It was very good, but I can’t say it was the best I’ve had.

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The chowder was hearty and flavorful, but so creamy that I think we only had a few bites each.

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This is a good restaurant to satisfy a lot of different palates (they even have a gluten free menu now!) with gorgeous views and very good food. We really enjoyed ourselves here, and I’m sure that has a lot to do with the beautiful weather and views.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Mermaid Inn

20 Mar

I absolutely love oysters.  In fact, one of my favorite things even as a little kid were those cans of smoked oysters. (Yes… I have been a foodie practically since birth… and also a very, very strange child).  I had been hearing great things about the Mermaid Restaurants and their oysters. Not only were they rumored to be very tasty, but they have a “Happy Hour and a Half” every day from 5:30pm – 7pm with east coast oysters for $1 and west coast for $1.75.  Awesome deal.

As if that wasn’t enough to sway me, Blackboard Eats put out a special that took 30% off the bill. It didn’t include the Happy Hour, but hell… 30% off is pretty damn great. And finally it motivated me, with a deadline, to try it out.

There are three locations: The Mermaid Inn on the Upper West Side (Amsterdam between 87th and 88th), The Mermaid Inn in the East Village (2nd Ave between 5th and 6th), and The Mermaid Oyster Bar in Greenwich Village (Macdougal between West Houston and Bleecker).

We stopped into the one on the Upper West Side and were immediately warmly greeted and shown to our seat.  With 30% off, we decided to go whole hog… err… fish… and try out a number of yummy looking items.  I gave my usual peppers allergy warning (“I am allergic to peppers. The vegetable.  Black pepper is fine but anything made from the vegetable is a problem: Red, green, yellow, chili, jalapeño, red pepper flakes, paprika… old bay.”  I am so sick of saying this… but… c’est la vie).  He wrote it down and very diligently confirmed what I could and couldn’t have.

First, we started with the Grand Platter: 12 oysters, 6 clams, crudo, shrimp cocktail, and 1/2 chilled lobster.

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All the oysters were fantastic, but I decidedly have a preference for West Coast oysters.  Shhhh… don’t tell.

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The lobster was pretty good, but I am a total lobster snob after spending so much time in Maine. It’s just NEVER as good.  Do lobsters lose something the moment they cross the bridge out of Maine? It’s a phenomena I cannot explain.

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The crudo was a delicious tuna with avocado… oh… and PEPPERS.  I took a bite and my mouth felt itchy… then a second later Mike pushed a jalapeño across his plate and told me to stop eating immediately.

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The wait staff was INCREDIBLY apologetic and immediately brought me out a FULL SIZE portion without peppers. And it was SOOOOOO delicious.

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We followed up our tower with lobster mac and cheese. This was perfectly cheesy (without being soupy) with great crunch on top and big full chunks of lobster meat cooked in.  The lobster in here was actually even more flavorful than the chilled lobster.  This was DELICIOUS.

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And then we had to try the lobster roll. The fries were perfectly average but the lobster roll was pure heaven… until… my mouth went on fire… and then the fire spread.

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Old Bay was lurking in every crevice of that sandwich… and was now burning every crevice of my mouth.  This was actually one of the worst burns I have ever experienced.  Because Old Bay is a powder, rather than burning a single spot like a normal altercation with a pepper might do, this spread across every part of my mouth and lips and hit hard.  I went immediately to the back and asked for a glass of milk (it is the only thing I have found that stops the reaction from spreading).  My waiter looked at me as if I had just told him that his puppy had died.  He sprinted into action, toppled over everyone in the kitchen, and ran back with a full jug of milk and a glass.  I went back to the table and a fresh lobster roll (sans old bay) was brought out.  And it was insanely good.  Perfectly buttered and crisped roll with perfect lobster meat.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t doing too well, so I asked for a glass of ice, which I proceeded to hold, embarrassingly, over my quickly inflating and blistering lip. At this point the manager came out and was beyond apologetic… mentioning that she was shocked to hear that the kitchen messed up not once, but twice, and that they had it backwards thinking my allergy was to black pepper, not the vegetable.  She immediately said they would be comping… the ENTIRE MEAL.  In my experience, it is really fascinating to see the difference in reactions I get from restaurants when peppers wind up in my food.  Many (too many) are totally indifferent or deny the hell out of it (“Oh it’s a jalapeño, not a pepper!“)  Some places comp the dish that was in error, or throw in a free glass of wine.  Frankly, I don’t expect anything. I would prefer the pepper wasn’t there in the first place, but accidents happen (it scares me to think what would happen if I WAS anaphylactic though).  I was SHOCKED when she said she was taking care of the entire bill.  And I felt awful. It wasn’t the waiter’s fault, and their care and attention was above and beyond.

It made what could have been an “I will never come back here!” boondoggle into an experience that will make me very loyal to this restaurant.  I can’t help but respect a place that takes ownership of its mistakes and goes above and beyond to compensate.

And just as I thought this restaurant had done enough to impress me, out came Fortune Teller Fish. Does anyone remember these from childhood? You put them in your hand and it tells your fortune depending on how it moves.  What a novel bit of nostalgia!

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And then… there came the chocolate mousse. Heaven.

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Beyond the above and beyond care for my allergy and comping the meal, the food here was sensational.  I was incredibly impressed and kind of wish I lived closer so I could be a regular at a place like this. Especially for those oysters!

Highly recommended.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

Luke’s Lobster- East Village

13 Sep

After hearing about Luke’s Lobster (we went to the one on 7th Street near 1st Ave, however, one just opened up on 81st Street near 2nd Ave) for a long time, I finally made my way there as a “last meal” at my old job.

Staring at the menu, I was really stuck.  I wanted to try as much as possible, so I eventually decided on “A Taste of Maine” which included a small version of each of their rolls (crab, shrimp, and of course, Lobster) along with 2 Empress crab claws, chips, and soda. 

It was a bit more than I usually spend on lunch at $20, but fresh seafood ain’t cheap.  Oh wait… aren’t lobsters prices at all all-time low?  Ok… I guess we’ll forgive them for transportation costs, etc. Sort of…

I really enjoyed the Maine kitsch that decorated the small storefront. 

My soda pick was, of course, blueberry.  It was delicious, sweet, and tasted like dessert (definitely NOT on the diet plan).

The sandwiches came and they were certainly small, however, they were overflowing with meat.

Luke’s Lobster bills itself as being fresh from Maine, and I really value that, however, the lobster just wasn’t the same.  I can’t totally fault them, however, because I have had lobster at some of the finest restaurants in NYC and it just never compares to the lobster in Maine, right off the boat, and simply steamed.  Even when I buy LIVE lobsters to make myself, it just isn’t the same.  Is it the Maine water? Air? The 10 hours of transit?  I wish I knew… because it’s good, but it’s just never quite MAINE good.  The roll at Luke’s was exactly on these lines… good, but not the same.  And (I HATE to say it) it tasted almost frozen (perhaps their fridge was too cold?)

I actually wound up preferring the shrimp roll (shockingly), however, the highlight of the meal was the Empress Crab Claw.  HOLY SHIT!

This tiny little claw packed SO much flavor.

Overall, I’m glad a place like Luke’s Lobster exists since they are such Maine fans, however, they still haven’t solved the eternal “MAINE GOOD” problem.  Sad, but I’m glad I went.  And I would go out of my way for that Empress Crab.  Nom Nom Nom.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Nomming Thru Maine: Acadia National Park/Bar Harbor- Part 1

12 Jul

One of my absolute favoritist parts of my favoritist place is Acadia National Park.  It’s on Mount Desert Island and it contains some of the most beautiful, serene vistas you can imagine.  On the island is a little town called Bar Harbor.  It is as quaint as New England towns come and is right on the beautiful harbor.  At low tide, there is a sand bar that connects it to an island, and at high tide that sand bar completely disappears.  

(The picture below is a view from Cadillac Mountain of the town of Bar Harbor)

When we first arrived in town, we strolled the streets of Bar Harbor (prounounced BAH HAH-BAH btw) and set up our tickets for a sunset cruise on the Margaret Todd for the following evening.  We asked a local where she usually eats personally, and she told us most locals go to Geddy’s, which was down the street.  And away we went…

It has a rustic pub feel with license plates used as their main decoration.  The bar seemed to have mostly local regulars while the diners appeared to be mostly tourists.

It started off well enough when we found Thunder Hole ale made by the Bar Harbor Brewing Company (which actually merged with The Atlantic Brewing Company).  (Thunder Hole is an awesome spot in Acadia where the water has dug such a deep hole in the rock that it sounds like thunder as the waves rise into it)

And I found some of my FAVORITE Blueberry Beer (also made by Bar Harbor Brewing Company).  This place even floated wild Maine blueberries in it!  (Notice the half colored in table matt below it… yes… we’re big kids at heart… always)

Mike started off with the lobster chowder.  It was good and creamy.

He then graduated to a lobster roll.  It had good chunks of meat in it but I think we both agreed that we prefer the unadulterated plain ol’ steamed lobster.  (I think this place may use frozen lobster though… it just didn’t have as much flavor and I thought it should have).

I chose the scallops.  Now I was VERY, VERY careful to inform the waitress that I was VERY allergic to peppers.  She verified with the chef that this was one meal I could eat.  The sweet potato mash was delicious, but the scallops, again, were just a bit bland.  (Frozen perhaps?)

Best of all… see that little biscuit next to the mash?  I took one bite and my mouth went on fire.  I then asked the waitress for milk (which she took her sweet ass time getting) and asked her if there were in fact peppers in the biscuit.  To which she answered “Are jalapeno peppers a pepper?”

Yes… dip shit.  Now please get me my milk.

Grrrrrrr.

Total Nom Points: FAIL

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After enjoying our beer tour so much in Portland and enjoying our Bar Harbor Brewing Co. beers so much the night before (best part of the meal!), we decided to visit the downtown “brewery” on the following (rainy) day.  Turns out the main brewery is actually on the northern part of the island and this was a store front with a tasting room.  But hey… who doesn’t like a tasting room?

We got to try a few of their beers and some sodas, however, the stand-outs we enjoyed were the Manly Men Beer Club set.  We were especially fond of the Barleywine variety.  We actually did wind up doing the full brewery tour later that same day (after a stop at a winery! We’re such lushes).  We sampled about a dozen beers and fell in absolute love with the special Honey Bragget beer.

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Asking locals about their favorite places to eat is always a favorite past time of mine when traveling.  We were at a Bed and Breakfast (full details on that to come) and a couple who were also staying there told me about this lobster house on the other side of the island that was sensational.  Beal’s Lobster Pier is in Southwest Harbor.  

They have the quintessential lobster tank where you point to (or if you’re daring… grab) your dinner.

The man behind the tank was nice enough to show off a three pounder.  Sorry big guy… I know the real good lobster is never the big ones.  1-1.5 pounds is perfect for me.

It was EXTREMELY cold in their little outdoor tented area, but luckily they had a heater that I stood directly under until our food came out.

Finally, I got the steamers I was so missing at J’s in Portland.  And they were good!

The lobster couldn’t have been simpler.  Just a big red delicious bastard in all his glory.  

Overall, Beal’s is worth the drive (probably no more than an hour from even the most tucked away parts of Acadia, and only about 30 minutes from our B&B).  It’s so Maine. It’s so quaint. It’s so beautiful. And it’s SO delicious!

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10