Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Portland, ME: The Portland Lobster Company

lobster roll with fries and cole slaw

I was in Portland earlier this month for a wedding, and knew that if I left without getting my paws on some lobster, I'd have failed.  Though lobster rolls are not my number one all-time favorite way to ingest the sweet, delicious flesh of the spiny crustacean, it’s certainly among the tidiest and most accessible, and I’ve found my lobster roll consumption steadily increasing each of the past few years.  Since Maine essentially equals lobster, I expected any lobster roll I ate there to automatically rise to the top of my personal best-ever list, which is of course entirely mental and not really organized at all. 

After taking recommendations from a local, we made our way to the Portland Lobster Company, which sits prominently on Commerce Street, Portland’s main tourist drag.  I’m sure there are more rustic, true lobster shack-type places to get a lobster roll fix, but you really couldn’t beat the setting here.  We sat perched at a counter-height table, looking out over the water, and the weather couldn’t have been better.  So of course I snapped that shit for Instagram (@shelbsandcheese - follow me!) so people knew how fucking rad my Saturday was.    

At Portland Lobster Company, you place your order with a very friendly cashier, who then hands you a plastic lobster that will buzz and light up when your food is ready, just as they do at Bostwick’s when your table is ready.  If you order your drink with the cashier, you need to show your receipt to the bartender who will pour you your drink, though you are of course free to simply order from the bar as well.  We all went with the lobster roll, and I had a glass of white to ease myself out of my Friday night.  Robbie also ordered onion rings, which were coated in a very thick and very tasty batter before being dunked in the deep fryer, from which it emerged with a shatteringly crisp shell.  Though nothing even close to an onion ring connoisseur (in fact, I usually hate the things), these were pretty good representatives of the form.  You could even take a bite without pulling out the whole damned onion.

onion rings
It took a while for that lobster roll to make its way to our table, but once it did, I was all over it.  I've found there are two basic tenets when it comes to lobster rolls: the mayo-laden cold lobster roll, and the butter-slicked warm lobster roll.  I tend to prefer the latter.  Nothing against mayo, but I just paid sixteen fucking dollars for a lobster sandwich, and I’d like to taste the damned lobster.  And I also like the meat to be a bit warm, since I think the texture is better that way. Of course, regardless of the style, a split-top, heavily buttered and griddled bun is a necessity, since it makes even the shittiest of lobster rolls worth eating.  But this, this my friends, was not the shittiest of lobster rolls.  The bun was super buttery and griddled to a golden brown, and the obviously fresh and incredibly sweet lobster claw and tail meat spilled over the top.  The two teeny bits of butter I found in my roll spoke to the preparation – the lobster meat must have been tossed with chunks of the stuff after being plucked from its shell, allowing the butter to (mostly) melt around it evenly.   Whatever they did, it worked.  The simplicity allowed the quality of the product to shine, just as it should when you’re sitting on a dock in Maine.  

180 Commercial Street  
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 775-2112