Road Trip: Lobster Rolls

By: Cameron Curtis
Luke's Lobster Roll Combo

Inspired (and envious) of Roberto's lobster roll claw-off, where he tasted 18 of the country's top lobster rolls, I decided to do a taste test of my own. Would Luke's Lobster be the winner for this lobster lover as well? While I wasn't able to drive to 18 eateries, I did hit up four of what are considered to be the best lobster roll establishments within a 120 mile drive of NYC: Luke's Lobster, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Lobster Landing and Abbott's Lobsters. And what better way to do a tasting comparison than jam pack it all into one incredible road trip? One (rainy) Sunday, two states and a whole heck of a lot of lobster.

Close-up of Luke's Lobster roll

11 a.m. : Luke's Lobster (242 East 81st Street, New York)

Luke’s has quickly become the go-to spot for lobster rolls in NYC, with their $15 fresh Maine-style roll. And they’re expanding their East Coast reach with a new D.C. outpost. For $18 and change I secured a lobster roll,bag of Miss Vickies chips, a pickle and a root beer. It's not every day I'm eating lobster for breakfast but maybe this lobster roll should become my new brunch staple. With just a touch of mayo, some super-secret spices, and a little lemon butter, this crispy buttered roll/lobster combo made me wish we were staying put for second helpings. The meat was fresh and perfectly cooked, the roll was just buttery enough with a crispy finish that managed to contain the meat. The hot roll and cold lobster was a perfect combo.

Red Hook Lobster Pound menu

1 p.m.: Red Hook Lobster Pound (284 Van Brunt Street | Brooklyn, NY)

At $15 for a lobster roll, Cape-Cod chips and a pickle, this was the best deal I had all day. Plus, there's your choice of Maine-style or Connecticut-style (no mayo). Unfortunately, the CT-style roll wasn't able to hold the meat as the butter quickly saturated the bread, and it fell apart in my hands. While there may not be a thing as too much butter, you don't want it to overpower the already delicious fresh lobster meat. The Maine-style was a better choice, with a touch of mayo and a little paprika. I said good-bye to the vats of lobsters waiting to be purchased and headed north to CT.

Red Hook Lobster Pound roll

4 p.m.: Lobster Landing (152 Commerce St Clinton, CT)

Two-hours and a settled-stomach later, I arrived in the quaint town (most buildings date back to 1880) of Clinton, CT. Lobster Landing definitely wins points for atmosphere--it's directly on the water.

Lobster Landing is on the waterfront

Their $15 version came out in a foot-long hot dog roll covered in lobster and topped with melted butter. While there was more bread to lobster ratio than my liking (despite its size, there's the same amount of meat), the meat was delicious and pretty much left on its own save for the butter topping.

Foot-long lobster roll

5:30 p.m. : Abbott's Lobster in the Rough (117 Pearl Street Noank, CT)

The last stop on the trip was the first line I waited in all day. Despite the rain, Abbott's was quite busy. Located right on the water with a huge outdoor seating area, it's great for a group--the extensive menu has much more than just lobster rolls:

Abbott's menu

At $14.95 for the "Famous Hot Lobster Roll" with their branded chips and a cup of coleslaw, it was a great deal. The roll, however, turned out to be a sesame hamburger bun. While there were large chunks of meat, they were a little dry and there was very little butter to add any moisture.

Abbott's lobster roll

After two states, four lobster rolls and about $50 worth of gas I've come to the conclusion that sometimes you should stick with the lobster roll around the corner. Brunch next weekend? Definitely a lobster roll.

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