The Lobster Stop is aptly named: There are plenty of the local crustaceans and the place is a natural stop at the foot of the Fore River Bridge.
But this spot, located on the Quincy Rotary, is not a pretty place. In fact, from the outside, it’s pretty homely. But that’s not why people come here. They come for the straight-from-the-sea lobster that owner Peter Dawson usually catches himself. And for chowders and steamers and seafood platters.
Inside, there are four booths, a three-seat counter and a table with six metal folding chairs. There’s minimal decoration: a lobster trap hanging on the wall, a mural of sea creatures behind the counter, and a blackboard with a Fact of the Week on it. “Did you know lobsters’ teeth are in their stomach?” (answer: No, and I’d rather not think about it while I’m eating one).
The lobsters, of course, are the stars of this show and they’re in a long display tank, now priced at between $4.25 to $5.99 a pound (this changes seasonally). Dawson currently has a couple of 8-pound beauties whose claws are the size of Tom Brady’s hands. The Lobster Stop does a good takeout business, and if you call 30 minutes ahead, you can pick up your lobster steamed for you to take home.
The Lobster Stop is a family-run business, opened in 2010 after Dawson could no longer make a living fishing, he says, because of government regulations. He’s got 35 years in the business, and unless you’ve got some time, don’t get him started on the regs. His wife keeps the books; their son and daughter help in the open kitchen and at the register. Order at the counter, and your food will arrive on paper plates, the chowder and bisque in Styrofoam cups.
Start with clam chowder ($3.25 a cup, $5.25 a bowl), which is creamy without being cloying, with a good clam-to-potato ratio. I love the lobster bisque ($3.50 a cup, $5.95 a bowl), not too thick and rich, as is often the case. There’s a generous amount of lobster in it, and a tad of sherry.
We share a side of calamari ($6.95 small, $9.95 large), a dish usually heavy and chewy. These rings are fried in high-quality oil with a thin, crunchy batter. I’d call this calamari lite.
The lobster roll ($9.95 for one, $17.95 for “a double”) consists of the freshest meat, chunks of celery, with a bit too much mayo. But there’s just the right amount of meat inside the buttered, toasted roll; it’s not spilling out all over the plate. It comes with chips.
As for the fried seafood platters, you can get a two-way combination for $17.95, or a three-way for $18.95. We ordered the scallop and shrimp combo. Both are cooked just right, the scallops sweet and golden. Again, just the lightest batter on both.
On many seafood platters, the fries are an afterthought, a space-filler. Here, they come with much of the skins on, and are nicely crisp. Coleslaw and tartar sauce that accompany them are homemade, and it shows in the fresh ingredients and tang.
Dawson seems to know many of the people who stop by to pick up an order, or who eat in. He should add me to his list of regulars. I’ve got my eye on one of those 8-pounders.