Since moving to Connecticut I have found a love that fills the void in my heart left behind by crab cakes when I left Baltimore. This new love is the New England lobster roll. There are two types of basic Lobster roll: the Connecticut style which includes lumps of giant, sweet lobster on a buttered, toasted bun served on a paper plate; and the Maine version which is a cold ‘salad’ type that is a mixture of mayo served on a roll as well. Some include a squirt of lemon, some a hint of random spices. But the best of the best keep it simple.
I am making it my mission (with the help of my girlfriend who was easily convinced to join me), to visit every seafood stand, restaurant and cart in order to find the best lobster roll in New England. I will dedicate my summer to this challenge and at the end will sum them up on a variety of criteria. I know this is quite the difficult, grueling task, but rest assured that for you, my beloved readers, I’m willing to suffer.
For the first installment, Nicole and I visited the Lobster Shack in Branford, Connecticut for a traditional CT styled roll.
The Lobster Shack
50 Maple St
Branford, CT 06405
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 11:30 am – 5:30 pm; Fri-Sat 11:30 am – 7 pm *Cash only
As with most of the lobster roll places in New England, the Lobster Shack and its fans claim that this place has best Lobster Roll in the region. Previously located in a lot across the bridge, you can find them now off of Indian Neck Rd in a lot for a small marina. The outdoor seating in the parking lot was comfty and the ambiance was set by the dozens of boats around. On a dry summer day I’d be concerned about it being a bit dusty but this wasn’t an issue when we visited. The menu (below) is simple which we appreciated since the whole point of the shack is to order a lobster roll. I was very happy to see clams on the half shell (which were perfectly fresh and delicious) and will try the hot shrimp roll on a future visit. But we were here for one reason and one reason only, to try their lobster roll. Classic Connecticut Style, lumps of lobster meat smothered in butter on a toasted bun. Looks great…let’s see how they did: (please see bottom for criteria)
Category: Hot Lobster Roll, CT Style. Cost: $15.00
Lobster meat: very fresh, slightly sweet, giant chunks and a good, heaping portion. Cooked well, maybe a little overdone but not enough to cause significant concern. 2.0 / 2.5 points
Bun: Traditional hotdog bun, perfectly toasted and in tact, appreciated it being cut in half. 1.0 / 1.0 points
Butter: Not too messy, just enough butter on the meat and absorbed into the bun so that it held lots of flavor but wasn’t saturated/falling apart. 0.5 / 0.5 pts
Salt/Seasoning: A very nice touch of fresh lemon which seemed a bit heavy at first but with each bite was the right balance of sour to the sweetlobster. 0.5 / 0.5 pts
Overall: A very strong showing for the first lobster roll of the season. The service here was fantastic- very friendly. It’s BYOB in the lot of a marina, which is perfect ambiance. We had very fresh clams on the half shell as well.
Rating: 4.50 / 5.0
The Lobster Shack would be worth seeking out if you’re a Lobster Roll fanatic and in the area. For our first installment of this series it will be a tough one to beat! I’m very glad that it is only 10 minutes from my house as I can see this becoming a regular spot to bring family and friends when they visit.
We have trips planned all over Connecticut, Rhode Island, and even Maine and we will not rest until we’ve tried the “best.” If you have a favorite place we shouldn’t miss, please leave a comment!
The criteria are as follows. No points are awarded for service, ambiance, etc., though these issues will be noted when necessary.
- Category: Hot Lobster Roll or Cold Lobster Roll
- Meat: 2.5 total points
- Bun: 1.0 total points
- Butter (or mayo based sauce): 1.0 Total Points
- Salt/Seasoning: 0.5 points.
*5.0 Points total are allotted.
- 0.0 Rating: inedible
- 1.0 Rating: barely edible, stomach aches ensued
- 2.0 Rating: edible, not very enjoyable
- 3.0 Rating: edible, enjoyable, would order again
- 4.0 Rating: editble, very enjoyable, would seek out and recommend
- 5.0 Rating: edible, amazing, would shove a stranger out of line to get another as quickly as possible