Profile: “KELLY’S ROAST BEEF” in Revere, MA

Kelly's ExteriorEarlier this summer we dusted off the road bikes and headed toward Revere Beach to visit an institution: Kelly’s Roast Beef. Nowadays known to most simply as “Kelly’s,” it seems nearly everyone north of Boston has been to Kelly’s, and opinions vary – some people swear by Kelly’s, where others despise the place. We think this is because Kelly’s has been around so long that it has become a sort of caricature of itself – that is, people more often express opinions about the “idea” of Kelly’s, than they do about their actual experiences there. We certainly felt this was true of ourselves, and we wanted to give Kelly’s a fair shake.

One thing’s for sure, Kelly’s always seems to be busy. We waited a bit before placing our order, and in 10 minutes we picked up our rolls and headed across Revere Beach Boulevard to the picnic tables overlooking the beach. Our initial impression was very favorable. This roll was loaded, and enclosed in a beautifully butter-grilled split-top hot dog roll. The lobster meat was very fresh, dressed with mayo and a tiny bit of diced celery (i.e. not so much as to count against them). The portion was large and, if the review was to end here, Kelly’s would have ranked very highly indeed.

Now, the rest of the story. We had two complaints about the Kelly’s roll. First, this roll was way over-salted – so much so, that it was difficult to imagine eating the accompanying potato chips after polishing off our rolls. Second, and this observation was confirmed after the fact by several other lobster roll hounds we know, this roll was, in a word, soggy. We’re not saying the bread was soggy – it wasn’t. What we’re saying is that the lobster meat itself was just way too wet, not from too much mayo but from what we assume to be excess water left over from the picking process. You can see from our accompanying photo, the mayo on this roll looks watered down, because it was… and that’s exactly how it tasted.

The thing here is, aside from these two complaints this was a very good roll. And these issues are easy fixes. In fact, if it weren’t for the salt and the sog, Kelly’s roll would have scored in the ballpark of James Hook or The Beach Plum, with a solid “Highly Recommended” rating. Instead, Kelly’s ends up with an “Acceptable” rating. Here’s how they stacked up (0-100):

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

Kelly’s has multiple locations, but we visited their original location at 410 Revere Beach Blvd in Revere, MA. WEBSITE: http://www.kellysroastbeef.com/wordpress/. FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/KellysRoastBeefInc?ref=s. PHONE: 781.284.9129.

photo 4

Advertisements

Profile: “LEGAL HARBORSIDE” in Boston, MA


Legal Harborside Exterior
We’ve been away for a few weeks, but prior to leaving we had made a stop at Legal Seafood’s Legal Harborside. We’d heard lots of talk about this place: the view, the party atmosphere, the long waits for service. It’s all true. The view from the roof deck is really great, and you can imagine yourself looking out over mor tropical scenes, but you are quickly snapped back to reality by a low-flying jumbo jet on a landing pattern to Logan, or an LNG tanker heading to Everett. But the view is still pretty nice. Legal Harborside also has some pretty cool mixology going on, and we really enjoyed the Blueberry Thyme Collins.

Legal Harborside ViewSorry to say, that’s the extent of our positive comments. We had to do laps around the roofdeck looking for a seat, and were on the verge of leaving when a guy grabbed our attention to tell us his party was leaving. We waited with him, at his table, for probably 20 minutes as he waited for his check. Taking our cue, we ordered drinks and our lobster rolls the first chance we got, but waited for close to an hour for our lunch to be delivered. In the meantime, we saw a guy almost get knocked off the roof by a fly-away folding window caught by the wind, and we observed what seemed a 50-1 customer-server ratio. But the view was nice.

Our rolls finally arrived and we were initially pleased by the presentation. A nicely toasted roll, homemade potato chips and slaw, and some nice looking lobster meat made us forget the wait. After all, the view was nice. But a couple of bites in and we were left disappointed. We should point out that we’re generally happy with Legal Seafoods. Their fish is famously fresh and never frozen. But had we not know this, we would have assumed that this was frozen lobster meat. Instead, we surmised that, since this was a Sunday afternoon, our lobster meat had been prepared the previous day. Now, we’re not saying that’s what happened for sure, we’re simply saying that’s what it tasted like. The roll, although seemingly grilled to a beautiful bronze, had very little in the way of a buttery taste. The homemade potato chips were great, but that’s a topic for some other blog.

In the end, Legal Harborside lands with a NOT RECOMMENDED rating. Here’s how they stacked up (0-100):

  • T’s Rating: 74
  • P’s Rating: 76
  • AVERAGE: 75

But the view was nice.

Legal Harborside is located 270 Northern Avenue in Boston, MA. Website: http://www.legalseafoods.com/restaurants/boston-legal-harborside. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LegalHarborside. PHONE: 617.477.2900.

Legal Harborside Lobster Roll

Disappointing, bland, old-tasting. NOT RECOMMENED.

The Lobster Roll Chronicles 2012 Year In Review!

Hi, Everyone! We’re excited to kick-off the Lobster Roll Chronicles 2013 Season! Back in October we published our 2012 rankings, but we had a few lobster roll joints sneak into our Fine-15. So, here’s a snapshot of 2012 in review. Enjoy! …T&P

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

The Galley's Zesty Lemon Lobster Roll

RATING: ABSOLUTE PERFECTION!

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

Red's Lobster Roll

RATING: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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

Profile: "THE CLAM SHACK" of Kennebunk, ME

RATING: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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

Rye Harbor Lobster Pound Lobster Roll

RATING: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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

Louie's Alive & Kicking Lobster Sandwich

RATING: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

#5 (Tie) Fisherman’s Grill in Portland, ME – (92 Points)

Fishermen's Grill Classic Lobster Roll

RATING: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

#7 (Tie) Island Creek Oyster Bar in Boston, MA – (91.5 Points)

Island Creek Lobster Roll

RATING: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

#7 (Tie) Lobsta Land in Gloucester, MA – (91.5 Points)

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

RATING: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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

James Hook & Co Lobster Roll

RATING: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

RATING: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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

Shaw's Lobster Roll

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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

Harraseeket Lobster Roll

RECOMMENDED

#13 (Tie) Belle Isle Seafood now located in Winthrop (new location) – (85 Points)

Belle Island Lobster Roll

RECOMMENDED

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

RECOMMENDED

RECOMMENDED

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

Three Cod Tavern Lobster Roll

ACCEPTABLE

#15 (TIE) B&G Oysters in Boston, MA (83.5 Points)

B&G Oysters Lobster Roll

ACCEPTABLE

And the rest of the pack…

#17 Old Port Tavern in Portland, ME – (84 Points) – ACCEPTABLE

#18 (Tie) Latitude 43 in Gloucester, MA – (83 Points) – ACCEPTABLE

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

#20 The Clam Box in Ipswich, MA – (82.5 Points) – ACCEPTABLE

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

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

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

#24 Yankee Lobster Company in Boston, MA – (76 Points) – ACCEPTABLE

Hall Of Shame (boo, hiss)

x. Neptune Oysters in Boston, MA – (60 Points) – AWFUL

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

x. Charlie’s Kitchen in Cambridge, MA – (45 Points) – AWFUL

Profile: “OLD PORT TAVERN” in Portland, ME

Old Port Tavern ExteriorWe enjoyed a quick escape to Portland ME this past weekend with our good friends, Larry and Liz. A great time was had by all, but as is usually the case we dragged our friends along for some lobster rolling. Nursing various degrees of hangover, courtesy of two of our favorite haunts, Sonny’s and Grace, the four of us ventured out Sunday morning to meet up with another couple who live in the area. We had a choice between Eventide Oyster Co. (which co-habitates with its fraternal twin, and one of our very favorite restaurants, Hugo’s) and Old Port Tavern. Since we revere Hugo’s, and wanted to make our visit to Eventide a bit more of an event, we chose to luncheon at Old Port.

Right in the heart of downtown Portland, OPT is certainly convenient. We descended into their subterranean space to find the place completely empty. Granted, it was 12:30 p.m. on a Sunday and the town was definitely a bit slow waking from its post holiday slumber, but we were honestly surprised such a big place would have no customers at all for a Sunday lunch.

Old Port Tavern InteriorWe both ordered the lobster roll, as did three of the remaining four of us (although Larry was definitely tempted by the Lobster Philly Cheese Steak). Our rolls took quite awhile which, considering we were the only customers, told us our rolls were being made to order. HOWEVER there is controversy (read on) – only the second in Lobster Roll Chronicles history.

These rolls were interesting. They certainly looked good, but were housed in an overly-large baguette-style roll. There was just way too much bread in this roll for the amount of lobster meat provided. Note that there was plenty of lobster but it was completely out of whack with the gargantuan roll, prompting Liz to suggest we cram all our lobster meat down to one end of the roll and simply amputate the remaining unnecessary bread. Good call, Liz!

As for the controversy, we visited OPT just 24-hours after visiting a very high quality roll shack called Fisherman’s Grill (review forthcoming). As such, OPT definitely suffered by comparison… at least for some of us. Others of us actually preferred the OPT roll, or at lease the lobster meat. Well, suffice to say that one of the two of us is absolutely blown away but this assessment. This person thought the lobster meat was at least a day old at best, if not frozen at worst. Combined with the ginormo-roll, this roll was a fail. The other of us thought the lobster meat was very fresh and even preferable to the lobster at Fisherman’s Grill. Interestingly, this sentiment was echoed along gender lines, with the guys strongly preferring Fisherman’s grill and not at all crazy about the OPT roll, whilst the ladies seemed to prefer OPT. As a qualifier, P acknowledged that despite her preference in lobster meat, the roll, as a whole, was substandard. We’re not sure how two people who agree nearly all the time (at least, when it comes to lobster rolls) could have such radically different reads on the same roll. Perhaps the ladies should visit OPT, while the gents should look elsewhere.

Despite the controversy, we’ll award the Old Port Tavern lobster roll with an ACCEPTABLE rating. Here’s how they stacked up (0-100):

  • T’s Rating: 83
  • P’s Rating: 85
  • AVERAGE: 84

Old Port Tavern is located at 11 Moulton Street in Portland, ME. WEBSITE: http://oldporttavern.com/restaurant/restaurant-home-page/. FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/OldPortTavern. PHONE: 207.774.0444

Old Port Tavern Lobster Roll

Way too much bread, and lobster meat one of us thought was suspect.

Profile: “LATITUDE 43” in Gloucester, MA

Latitude 43 ExteriorWe’d been to Latitude 43 on several occasion, so when cruising Cape Ann this past weekend we decided to stop in and give their lobster roll a try. If you haven’t been, Lat43 is harbor side in Gloucester, overlooking fishing boats and the landmark Cape Pond Ice Company. The restaurant is pretty eclectic, with a fusiony menu and a sunken sushi bar. Cool artwork and a tropical fish tank make Lat43 feel quite different than most Cape Ann haunts. In the summer their outdoor seating is right on the water, and they also have live music in their pub area.

As is most often the case during the cold months, we planted ourselves at the bar and inquired about the lobster roll. “They’re good,” our server Will said, and we ordered one roll each.

Latitude 43 InteriorAfter a relatively short wait, the rolls were delivered on planks with sides of apple coleslaw and some crispy fries. The lobster meat was very fresh and the portion was a good size… but Houston, we have a problem. Aside from the tabooed use of celery (admittedly chopped very small), Lat43 also uses green onion in their roll. This might not have been a problem, except that they used so much that the delicate lobster meat was completely overpowered by onion. Another problem was the bread itself, which was very large – much bigger than the typical New England-style split-top hotdog roll. In fact, it was so disproportionately large that large mouthfuls of bread tended to mask the taste of the lobster (but, unfortunately, not the onion).

This brings up an important point about The Lobster Roll Chronicles’ methodology. Some roll reviewers will modify their rolls, adding or removing ingredients, or dipping them in butter. We do not do this. Instead, we review the roll as-delivered, just as we received it. We don’t add anything that wasn’t provided along with the roll, and we don’t dissect our rolls to minimize bad ingredients. So, although we may well have improved this roll by removing excess bread, that’s just not what we do.

With all this said, Lat43’s roll wasn’t bad. But a better roll and less green onion (and elimination of celery) would definitely raise their score by several points.

We’ll award the Latitude 43 lobster roll with an ACCEPTABLE rating. Some slight tweaking could easily move them into the Recommended category. Here’s how they stacked up (0-100):

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

Latitude 43 is located at 25 Rogers Street in Gloucester, MA. WEBSITE: http://latfortythree.com. FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lat-43/147203808662634. PHONE: 978.281.0223

Latitude 43 Lobster Roll

Not a bad roll, but some slight tweaks could make it a lot better!

Profile: “ISLAND CREEK OYSTER BAR” in Boston, MA

Island Creek Oyster BarWe found Island Creek Oyster Bar in a roundabout way, twice over. First, we’d been to their Kenmore Square location back when it was a restaurant called Great Bay (in fact, it was our secret for Red Sox games – have some apps, valet your car, and they’d have it waiting and running as soon as the game got over. 30-minutes from last pitch to driveway!). But we’d also seen Island Creek Oysters featured on Andrew Zimmern‘s television show, Bizarre Foods. We realized neither of these points when we chose to make it the third of a three-roll day hoofing it around Boston. All we knew was two things: first, lots of people like ICOB. Second, they reportedly add all sorts of non-traditional nonsense into their roll. But what the heck… we figured we’d give them a try.

In some ways, ICOB is about as different from places like Red’s Eats and The Clam Shack as you can get. This is a high-end, glitzy restaurant with a mammoth bar and aforementioned valet guys who’ll happily park your car for you. Yet, the great equalizer is this bug from the deep we like to eat in a hot dog roll. So, despite the ambiance, we’re not sure how much of an advantage a fancy place really has over the little guys. The roll is what it is.

Island Creek Oyster Bar InteriorWe asked about the rolls here, and our bartender Vik (who later turned out to be interested in our blog) said they were great. We told him we’d be splitting our role, which seemed fine with him.We waited the usual 10-15 minutes for our made-to-order order, and were pleased to see they actually took the time to cut our roll in half, and give each of us our own plate complete with our own orders of homemade potato chips and our own servings of coleslaw. NOTE TO FUTURE CHEFS OF AMERICA: this very small, cost-free gesture makes your customers feel like you care about them. It is, at the end of the day, pretty easy to delight your customers if you just think about it. But, we weren’t going to let this feel-good service influence our ratings.

This roll was very good. A beautifully buttered brioche roll contained a subtle complex of flavors which, in the hands of a less experienced chef, could have easily gotten out of hand. So let the controversy begin. If anyone had shared these ingredients with us in advance, we’d have been far less likely to drop by ICOB. But, confronted with this roll and nothing left to do but dig in, we were so happy nobody spilled the beans. The lobster meat was sweet, moist, and very fresh. It was dressed in light mayo (which we assume may have been scratch-made), as well as a touch of crème fraîche. This fancy tweak was so nice, and really rounded out the dressing-driven moistness while avoiding more inevitable greasy mayo twang. Tiny cubes of pickle and onion snuck up on us without being “in our face,” while salt, pepper, and a few other things we can’t remember rounded out the roll.

To repeat this was a very good roll! And, despite the laundry list of ingredients (which we’d never had noticed had we not read about them in advance) we are vary happy to award Island Creek Oyster Bar 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

Island Creek Oyster Bar is located at 500 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, MA. WEBSITE: http://islandcreekoysterbar.com. FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Island-Creek-Oyster-Bar/157874490904010?fref=ts. PHONE: 617.532.5300

Island Creek Lobster Roll

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: http://www.bandgoysters.com/. FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/bandgoysters?fref=ts. PHONE: 617.423.0550

B&G Oysters Lobster Roll

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

Profile: “YANKEE LOBSTER COMPANY” in Boston, MA

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: http://yankeelobstercompany.com/. FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Yankee-Lobster-Co/111734038864174?fref=ts. 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: http://www.lobstalandrestaurant.com/home.html. FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lobsta-Land-Restaurant/120860174608565?fref=ts. PHONE: 978.281.0415.

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

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: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Belle-Isle-Lobster-And-Seafood/405098856171151?fref=ts. PHONE: 617.567.1619.

Belle Island Lobster Roll

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