Profile: “B AND G OYSTERS” in Boston, MA

B&G OystersNearly every “Best Lobster Roll In Boston” listing includes supposed heavyweights like James Hook & Co., Neptune Oyster, and Louie’s Alive and Kicking. Another perpetual mention goes to B&G Oysters. We’d never been, and were very much looking forward to the visit – especially after walking all the way from our disappointing visit to Yankee Lobster in South Boston. B&G is located in Boston’s South End which, if you’ve not been recently, continues to become more and more lovely. Beautiful brownstones, tree-lines streets, and lots of great restaurants and culture.

B&G Oyster InteriorB&G itself is located right on the main drag that is Tremont Street. The front entrance is closed off, so you need to go around the back and enter through an alternate entrance, before walking down into a really cool, hip setting. Dominating the restaurant is a large U-shaped bar, where we grabbed some stools overlooking the kitchen. The staff greeted us with joy. Since we intended to hit three roll joints on this crisp fall day, we opted to split a roll.

In a brief digression, we can tell you with complete certainty that you can tell a lot about a restaurant by how they handle the split roll order. Do they (a) give you the roll as a single order as if you were one person; (b) do they do you the favor of providing you with another plate; or (c) do they split the sides and give you two mini-versions of what you would have gotten had you each ordered your own roll. Keep an eye on this, rollsters, and make your own judgement.

Anyway, back to B&G (who served us as if we were one person). This was a very pretty roll, and very pretty serving. The roll itself was a bit higher-end than the standard split-top hotdog roll, but was in the same ballpark. It was toasted but, again, lacked the beautiful salted-butter bottom that is, on our opinion, one of the quickest and easiest ways to make a mediocre roll pretty good. The lobster meat itself was fresh and moist, lightly dressed. But the roll was apparently drizzled with lemon juice – a treatment that’s much better left to the customer. We felt there was too much lemon juice on this roll. It also featured chopped chives, which was OK, but was likely as much cake decorating as it was meaningful flavor contribution. By the way, the fries, coleslaw, and pickle sides were actually really good.

We really wanted to like this roll. And, we’ll go as far as to say that we didn’t dislike it. But so far as we’re concerned, this role does not belong in the same company The Galley, Reds, or Clam Shack, and we’re awarding them a rating of ACCEPTABLE. Here’s how they stacked up (0-100):

  • T’s Rating: 84
  • P’s Rating: 83
  • AVERAGE: 83.5

B&G Oysters is located at 550 Tremont Street in Boston, MA. WEBSITE: FACEBOOK: PHONE: 617.423.0550

B&G Oysters Lobster Roll

A very pretty roll, and not bad. But far from lobster roll greatness.



Yankee Lobster CompanyYankee Lobster Company is located in the Seaport District, right next to the Bank Of America Pavillion. A staple of the South Boston waterfront since the 1950s, Yankee Lobster regularly appears on various best lobster roll lists. We had never been, and had been looking forward to our visit for some time. We arrived at noon on a Sunday, and were surprised to see the place hopping. This felt strange, as the surrounding area is primarily commercial, and on a Sunday this part of town really does feel like a ghost town. But, here we were, happily waiting in line, having been lucky enough to snag the last remaining open table. We waited about ten minutes for our made-to-order roll, while admiring all the history hanging on the walls. Generally, the place felt pretty good. We noticed there was a 50-50 mix of tourists and locals.

Yankee Lobster Company InteriorThis roll is not large. The roll itself is a standard split-top hotdog roll which was toasted but devoid of any buttery taste. The lobster meat tasted fresh, but was actually quite dry. It’s unusual to hear us say so, but this roll could have definitely benefited by a bit more mayo. And, although we are pretty firmly entrenched in the anti-celery camp, the celery that came in this role was diced so small, it really didn’t distract from the overall experience.

What did distract from the experience, though, was an nearly complete absence of taste. This roll completely lacked a buttery bottom. There was no zip or tang typically provided by mayo (or, God forbid, Miracle Whip). We weren’t even provided with the gratuitous lemon wedge. We will say that Yankee’s coleslaw and crispy fries were actually pretty good. If only the roll itself could have held up its end of the bargain.

In sum, we were pretty disappointed by our visit to Yankee Lobster. We’ll award their lobster roll with an ACCEPTABLE rating, but that’s only because we don’t really have a BARELY ACCEPTABLE rating. Here’s how they stacked up (0-100):

  • T’s Rating: 75
  • P’s Rating: 77
  • AVERAGE: 76

Yankee Lobster Company is located at 300 Northern Ave in Boston. WEBSITE: FACEBOOK: PHONE: 617.345.9799

Yankee Lobster Company Lobster Roll

Yankee Lobster’s roll. Surprisingly tasteless.

Profile: “LOBSTA LAND” in Gloucester, MA

Lobsta Land is located off of Route 128, just before the big bridge over the Annisquam River. As such, although they’re technically in Gloucester, Lobsta Land is definitely “off-island.” We wondered if this might lead to some bias amongst Cape Ann “on-island” purists. Yet, it’s a definite destination for locals and has been in business for years and years. Neither of us had even been to Lobsta Land until we dropped in a few years ago on the very strong recommendation of a friend. At that time, we were really disappointed by some pretty poor customer service. If not for The Chronicles we’d probably never have gone back, but there exists a very loyal contingent of Lob Landers who’s conviction and enthusiasm convinced us to give them another try.

We dropped in after a long hike and were quite hungry. And, since it was a football Sunday, we opted to seat ourselves in the lounge. Quite surprisingly, the place was completely empty. Lobsta Land gets a pass, though, as it was the first really nice day in a long time so people were likely taking in the sunshine. Our server, Zoe (who actually runs a very cool vegan baking blog you can visit here), told us it was very unusual to be so slow. We asked “How are the lobster rolls,” and she cheerfully shared that Lobsta Land won Best Lobster Roll North Of Boston 2012 by Boston Magazine. Well that was good to hear but the proof is in the pudding.

We each ordered a roll and were pleased with the turn around time. These rolls came in a beautifully butter-grilled brioche roll with no lettuce or any other nonsense. Just to emphasize, the roll DEFINITELY makes a difference! The lobster meat itself was very fresh and was lightly dressed with just a bit of mayo. One thing we noticed was that these rolls seemed to be made mostly of claw meat. We love lobster tail, but in this case the mostly-claw construct was in no way a negative.

Based on previous experience, we expected to be disappointed in these rolls. We weren’t. They were delicate, fresh, perfectly dressed, and featured the requisite bottom of a really nice roll that was butter grilled and had a great foundation. All in all, this was a really great roll. The fact that it was accompanied by a large order of crispy fries and home-made coleslaw (an great, friendly service) was a bonus.

Lobsta Land was refreshingly respectable, and actually really good. If we lived nearby we’d be there all the time. We award Lobsta Land with a rating of HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Here’s how they stacked up (0-100):

  • T’s Rating: 92
  • P’s Rating: 91
  • AVERAGE: 91.5

Lobsta Land is located at Exit 12 off of Route 128, 84 Causeway Street in Gloucester, MA. WEBSITE: FACEBOOK: PHONE: 978.281.0415.

A really great, sweat roll rooted in lobster roll tradition. Really great!

Profile: “THE CLAM BOX” in Ipswich, MA

The Clam BoxAfter a brisk 5-mile hike through the dunes at Crane Beach, we were fully prepped for the short drive north to visit The Clam Box to give their lobster rolls a try. We’ve been here before, pre-Chronicle days, and have driven by its distinctive “clam box architecture” countless times. As you might imagine, The Box is famous for their fried clams, and many locals claim their clams are the best around (which they aren’t). But we were surprised to hear so many roll hounds claim The Box was their favorite lobster roll joint.

As is nearly always the case there was a pretty long line at The Box, and we waited while the friendly counter girl took orders from those ahead of us in line at what seemed a glacial rate of speed. You know, this can be pretty aggravating at times, but in this case our smiling order taker was simply taking very special care to get everyone’s order exactly right, so we really couldn’t complain. After finally placing our order, we sat on a long wooden bench near the pick-up windows waiting for our number to be called. This position gave us a birds-eye view of the massive fried clam, scallop, and fish platters being distributed by several more smiling and courteous youthful staffers. After about 10-minutes, we picked up our tray and headed out to the picnic area to enjoy the tail end of a warm, sunny Fall day.

As for how we graded The Clam Box’s lobster roll, we should begin by saying this roll really wasn’t bad. They weren’t huge, but they were stuffed pretty full with claw, knuckle and tail meat, all very lightly dressed with a touch of mayo. There was nothing at all offensive these rolls, and we didn’t feel ripped off. Conversely, these rolls were remarkably unremarkable – that is, there was absolutely nothing outstanding or memorable about them. The roll itself was a standard New England-style split-top hotdog bun that was prettily grilled, but it lacked that “butter-grilled” flavor that adds such a nice bottom to the best roll experiences. We wondered if perhaps The Box simply under-buttered our rolls, or maybe they were using unsalted butter (or, God forbid,  some tasteless butter substitute?). Regardless, it lacked bottom, leaving us longing for a Top-10 roll (which this roll certainly isn’t).

Between the roll and the lobster meat was a bed of cut iceberg lettuce. The lobster meat itself was, again, not offensive, but it wasn’t singing of freshness either. We tried to pin down what we were getting, and our conclusion was that this meat tasted like it had been made yesterday and then refrigerated overnight for today’s use. We have no idea if this is what happened, we’re just saying that’s the impression we got. The meat wasn’t overcooked or rubbery, but it wasn’t sweet and succulent, either. If we were to stretch to find something positive to say, it would be that the size and and variety of meaty chunks used in this roll were definitely good.

The Clam Box scores an ACCEPTABLE rating. Here’s how they stacked up (0-100):

  • T’s Rating: 83
  • P’s Rating: 82
  • AVERAGE: 82.5

The Clam Box is located at 248 High Street in Ipswich MA. WEBSITE: PHONE: 978.356.9707. The Clam Box is a seasonal business.

The Clam Box Lobster Roll

Not a bad lobster roll, but mostly unmemorable.

Profile: “BELLE ISLE SEAFOOD” in East Boston, MA

Belle Isle SeafoodAfter our recent 2012 results were posted on Chow Hound, several people chimed in on our rankings and made recommendations on other lobster rolls joints we should try. One place that received a lot of reviews was Belle Isle Seafood in East Boston, MA. We’d never heard of Belle Isle, but figured since it’s pretty close to home we’d give them a try.

One thing that’s worth mentioning straight away is that Belle Isle is moving just across the river into Winthrop. In fact, from the current Belle Isle lunch counter you can see their new building as it nears completion. Frankly, this is good news, as the current Belle Isle is without a doubt the most gritty roll joint we visited. The entire property is surrounded by bridge construction, with heavy equipment, Jersey barriers, and chain link fences everywhere you look. You have to follow the spray-painted plywood signs to park around back, and as you approach Belle Isle you really start to wonder what the heck you’re getting yourself into.

Belle Isle InteriorWe approached the counter and noticed the small dining area was pretty full. Luckily, most people who were waiting for their orders chose to eat outside along the water, freeing up a couple of seats. Our rolls took about 10-minutes to be made to order, and were delivered in a flat brown paper bag a la fish and chips. Removing our plates from the bags, we found a very large roll filled with really beautiful, fresh mayo-dressed lobster meat. The roll itself was a standard New England style split-top hotdog roll, but the roll was so full of meat it took a bit of manipulation to be able to see if the outside of the roll was grilled. Well, it may have been… but to our eyes (and taste buds) it seemed more toasted than grilled. If there was any butter applied to the roll, it was not noticeable to us.

The lobster meat itself was truly fresh and delicious – some of the best we’ve had. But we both noticed that, aside from a couple of lettuce leaves, the roll was naked – that is, no salt, no pepper, not nothing. Usually this is no big deal because the butter-grilled roll typically delivers a light dose of salt, as well as a buttery rich bottom. In this case, because the roll was so lightly toasted and seemed to lack any butter, and because the roll was otherwise plain, despite its high-quality lobster meat this role left us wishing for just a bit more taste. Another admittedly nit-picky thing we noticed was that the lettuce under the lobster meat was not shredded, so when you bit into the roll, unless you were careful to bite through a mountain of lobster and all the lettuce, you ended up pulling all the filling out of the role when trying to set the role down.

And, of all the lobster roll joints we surveyed, this was the only one where we found broken pieces of shell on our roll.

We’d originally intended to hit two roll joints today, but after finishing the Belle Isle roll we were stuffed. Granted, these rolls were $20, but were still a good deal based on their size.

We liked these rolls. Their high-quality lobster meat would have definitely yielded a higher score had they just been a bit more tasty. Belle Isle Seafood scores a RECOMMENDED rating. Here’s how they stacked up (0-100):

  • T’s Rating: 85
  • P’s Rating: 85
  • AVERAGE: 85

Belle Isle Seafood is located at 1267 Saratoga Street in East Boston, MA. Their WEBSITE appears to be down. FACEBOOK: PHONE: 617.567.1619.

Belle Island Lobster Roll

Beautiful, fresh lobster, but lacking in the taste department.

The Lobster Roll Chronicles 2012 Results Are In!

You asked for it, you got it! Announcing “The Lobster Roll Chronicles” 2012 Results. Click on the restaurant name for in-depth reviews, or click the image for a larger view. We hope you enjoy! Feel free to comment and recommend… T&P

#1 – The Galley Restaurant & Pub in Naples, ME – (98 Points)

The Galley's Zesty Lemon Lobster Roll


#2 (Tie) – Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, ME – (93.5 Points)

Red's Lobster Roll


#2 (Tie) – The Clam Shack in Kennebunk, ME – (93.5 Points)

The Clam Shack Lobster Roll


#4 – Rye Harbor Lobster Pound in Rye Harbor, NH – (93 Points)

Rye Harbor Lobster Pound Lobster Roll


#5 – Louie’s Alive & Kicking in Cambridge, MA – (92 Points)

Louie's Alive & Kicking Lobster Sandwich


#6 – James Hook & Co. in Boston, MA – (90 Points)

James Hook & Co Lobster Roll


#7 – The Beach Plum in North Hampton, NH – (87.5 Points)


#8 – Shaw’s Fish & Lobster Wharf in New Harbor, ME – (87 Points)

Shaw's Lobster Roll


#9 – Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster in South Freeport, ME – (85.5 Points)

Harraseeket Lobster Roll


#10 – The Hungry Whale in Salem, MA – (85 Points)


#11 – Three Cod Tavern in Marblehead, MA – (83.5 Points)

Three Cod Tavern Lobster Roll


#12 – J. T. Farnham’s in Essex, MA – (83 Points)

Farnham's Lobster Roll


#13 – Jasper White’s Summer Shack in Cambridge, MA – (82 Points)

Summer Shack Lobster Roll


#14 – The Lobster Shack at Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth, ME – (81 Points)

Lobster Shack at Two Lights Lobster Rolls


#15 – Roy Moore Lobster Company in Rockport, MA – (77.5 Points)

Roy Moore Lobster Roll


The Lobster Roll Chronicles 2012 Hall Of Shame

x. Charlie’s Kitchen of Cambridge, MA – 45 points (Awful)

Charlie's Kitchen Lobster Roll

Charlie’s deviled Lobster Roll. A disgusting travesty.

x. The Lobster Dock in Boothbay Harbor, ME – 60 Points (Awful)

The Lobster Dock Lobster Roll

Rubbery, foul-tasting. A real disappointment.

x. Neptune Oyster of Boston, MA – 60 Points (Awful)

Neptune Oyster Lobster Roll

Made us feel sick for hours.


The GalleyWe had just finished mapping our next road/bike trip to Maine to sample some of Vacationland’s best known lobster rolls when, quite by accident, we stumbled upon Travel Channel’s Adam Richman hosting a show called Best Sandwich In America. Now, we’re not all that big on Adam Richman, preferring instead his colleagues, Zimmern and Bourdain. But this particular broadcast was the season finale, and featured the 10 finalists to compete for best sandwich in America. Each of these contenders had previously won their respective regional contests. And, as luck would have it, we tuned in just as Richman was announcing his choice for New England’s Best Sandwich. Naturally, we assumed he would choose a lobster roll, which he did, but we were expecting to see Red’s Eats or The Clam Shack rise to the top. But out of nowhere (at least to us), enter The Galley Restaurant & Pub of Naples, ME.

The first question we had was, “The Galley? Who the heck is The Galley?” The second question was, “Naples, ME? Where the heck is Naples, ME?” A quick search on Google Maps showed that Naples was not a coastal town but, instead, was inland about 30 miles northwest of Portland – freshwater territory. Further, Richman’s selection from The Galley was actually called the “Zesty Lemon Lobster Roll.” Although this initially seemed a bit of a departure from tradition, in reality many, many of New England’s top lobster roll joints use both lemon and pepper in their rolls. So, Richman’s segment piqued our curiosity, and we decided to add The Galley as a last-minute, final stop on our trip north.

The Galley Lobster Roll MenuA few days later, we arrived at The Galley, but were there about a half-hour before opening. With a bit of time to kill, we took a drive around nearby Sebago Lake, and up north to Bridgton and Waterford – nice country to be sure, but hardly the Maine Coast. We later returned to find The Galley was already hopping. A very friendly young lady seated and, as we reviewed the menu, were surprised to see not only the Zesty Lemon roll as an option, but a whole variety of lobster rolls recipes. Evidently, The Galley is serious about their lobster rolls.

The Galley InteriorFollowing Richman’s lead, we each ordered the Zesty Lemon roll, and waited while our rolls were made to order. What ultimately greeted us was one of the prettiest rolls we’ve ever seen. A perfectly grilled New England split-top hotdog roll lined with a single romaine lettuce leaf. A full one-third of a pound of fresh, perfectly-cooked, lightly-dressed lobster meat makes this roll a real meal. But it’s what happens next that makes this roll so extraordinary. The Galley’s recipe calls for a small amount of their own zesty lemon pepper spice sprinkled along the top of the roll, followed by a fresh-squeezed lemon drizzle. This treatment results in such a well-balanced roll, with the lemon and pepper cutting through the richness of the mayo-dressed lobster, rounded out by the butter-grilled roll and finished with the fresh snap of the romaine leaf, each bite got better and better… and better!

Until now, the highest rating we’ve ever awarded was HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. But this just doesn’t go far enough to convey the culinary perfection that is The Galley Zesty Lemon Lobster Roll. So, we’re going all out to award The Galley with our highest honor, a rating of ABSOLUTE PERFECTION!

As for how we scored The Galley, we feel compelled reiterate just how much we loved our visits to places like Red’s Eats and The Clam Shack, each of whom tied for 2nd Place with a score of 93.5. But The Galley is in a whole different class. We loved these other lobster rolls, and look forward to many return visits over the coming years, so The Galley’s score shouldn’t be seen as reflecting negatively on these other roles. Rather, it should be seen to reflect just how unbelievably, earth-shatteringly awesome The Zesty Lemon Lobster Roll really was (0-100):

  • T’s Rating: 98
  • P’s Rating: 98
  • AVERAGE: 98

The Galley Restaurant & Pub is located at 327 Roosevelt Trail in Naples, ME. WEBSITE: FACEBOOK: PHONE:207.693.1002.

The Galley's Zesty Lemon Lobster Roll

ABSOLUTE PERFECTION! The Galley’s Zesty Lemon Lobster Roll wins #1 Lobster Roll in Northern New England!

Profile: “JAMES HOOK AND CO” in Boston, MA

James Hook & Co.Anyone who grew up in or around Boston will recognize the name of James Hook & Co. An institution since 1925, James Hook was situated at the entrance to the Fort Point Channel. Their sign with the angular white lettering against their brown building was a landmark. That is, until 2008 when a fire consumed its main building, along with 60,000 lbs of lobster. Over $5 million in damages to the property didn’t stop the Hook family from rebuilding. And although the landmark facility is now gone, Hook remains in business to this day.

We were on our bikes and decided to swing by Hook to split a lobster roll. The place was crowded, so we stood in line for awhile. When our turn came, we noticed that there were completed lobster rolls in the display case, a la Roy Moore’s. Luckily, the clerk asked if we would like our roll toasted, which we did, so our roll ended up being made to order. We took our lunch out to the old drawbridge leading to South Boston to enjoy our roll in the sunshine.

James Hook & Co InteriorThis roll was very good. Buttery, toasted split-top hotdog bun filled with delicious, fresh and flaky lobster meat. This roll had a bit more mayo than necessary, but not so much that it detracted from the tender lobster meat. We were surprised to hear people mention light celery in their reviews, because as far as we could tell there was no celery in ours. In many ways, this roll was very traditional, and reminiscent of Shaw’s or Harraseeket, but was even simpler in that there was no lettuce lining the roll, winning additional style points for Hook. And at about $12.99, you’ll have a very difficult time finding a better value in all of Boston.

We really liked James Hook & Co.’s lobster roll, and awarded it a rating of HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Here’s how they stacked up (0-100):

  • T’s Rating: 90
  • P’s Rating: 90
  • AVERAGE: 90

James Hook & Co. is located at 15-17 Northern Avenue in Boston, MA. WEBSITE: PHONE: 617.423.5501.

James Hook & Co Lobster Roll

James Hook & Co.’s lobster roll is delightful in its simplicity. We had no camera with us on this visit, so we borrowed this snap from Jo Boston. We’ll be happy to remove the image upon request.

Profile: “SHAW’S FISH AND LOBSTER WHARF” in New Harbor, ME

Shaw's Fish & Lobster WharfShaw’s Fish & Lobster Wharf makes it onto just about everyone’s list of best lobster rolls in Maine. We pulled into Shaw’s parking lot after a day of tastings, and at first glance didn’t know what to expect The building looked a bit rundown, a were welcomed a couple of dumpsters and a server smoking a cigarette and yapping on the phone outside the kitchen (see photo). Proceeding down the ramp, a gentleman working the fresh fish counter on the first floor pointed us upstairs to the restaurant.

Like many lobster shacks on the Maine coast, this place is a step back in time. Rustic, but clean. A big open deck drew us outside as we waited for our rolls, which were, of course, made to order. The deck overlooked a working dock, and we could see boats unloading lobsters right below us. If it looks familiar, it may be because Shaw’s doubled as Chet’s Grill in the movie, “Message In A Bottle,” featuring Kevin Costner, Robin Wright, and Paul Newman.

View from Shaw's Fish & Lobster WharfShaw’s runs right in the middle of the pack of great Maine lobster rolls joints. As good as these places are, they tend to be very similar to one another – a standard split-top hotdog roll buttered and grilled, and filled with very fresh, lightly dressed lobster meat over a bed of shredded lettuce.  There’s nothing at all wrong about this, and Shaw’s makes a truly great roll. But it also means that these places do little to differentiate themselves from one another. The Clam Shack uses a round roll, as well as a combination of butter and mayo, which makes them stand out. Louie’s Alive & Kicking uses scali bread, which gives them a flavor all their own (while remaining faithful to tradition). Shaw’s is a fastball down the middle – a good, solid pitch that gets the job done, but with no “movement” on it.

With this said, the Shaw’s lobster roll was so good that we ended up downing  half of it before realizing we never stopped long enough took a photo! In the end, we give Shaw’s a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, edging out their closest coastal competitor, Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster. Here’s how they stacked up (0-100):

  • T’s Rating: 87
  • P’s Rating: 87
  • AVERAGE: 87

Shaw’s Fish & Lobster Wharf is located at 129 State Route 32 in New Harbor, ME. Their website appears to be down, but you can find them on FACEBOOK: PHONE: 207.677.2200.

Shaw's Lobster Roll

We forgot to take a photo of Shaw’s lobster rolls before devouring them, so we borrowed this snap from Yankee Magazine. We’ll be happy to remove the image upon request.