Move over, Ben Affleck and JLo: It turns out a seafood sandwich in a squishy bun is capable of breaking the Internet, too. Our recent story — a look at the best-reviewed lobster rolls in New England — drew high readership and a boatload of comments. The Globe also ran a quick online survey with the story, asking readers to weigh in with their favorites. Here’s a look at those findings, coupled with responses we got from readers. To those who got their claws out because we ignored their favorite spot: Nah, we didn’t miss it — we just didn’t love it as much as you do. After eating our body weight in lobster rolls, we’re mighty picky.
All told, 126 readers responded to the online survey, and another dozen or so (and counting) wrote to us directly. Readers came mainly from Massachusetts, Maine, and Connecticut, along with some outside our region: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, California, Colorado, Michigan, and “unfortunately, Florida,” as one woman wrote — proving that the love of a lobster roll knows no geographic boundaries.
The best lobster roll? How about the Top 100?
The most amazing finding: you recommended 84 different places. Many of them were named by precisely one person, but still. (Go to the end of this story to see the list.) You let your hometown pride show; even folks from inland areas were bullish about the lobster roll available in their (ocean-free) backyard. And to the people who swore that the lobster rolls from their very own kitchen are the best in the world, we say, Yay you, ya big showoff! Marcia and Bruce, we’ll keep your addresses a secret.
The best of the best of the best
You Globe readers sure are passionate about lobster rolls, and you let the superlatives roll. Your picks were not merely the best in New England, but “the best money can buy” (according to Richard Marden of West Wareham, referring to the Raw Bar in Mashpee), “the best of all worlds,” (Sara of Portland, describing Bite into Maine’s lobster roll), and “the standard by which all lobster rolls are measured” (Charlie P. of Beverly, regarding Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, Maine). We could practically taste the crave-worthy crustacean at The Lobster Pot in Bristol, R.I., as described by Linda Lindauer of Boston: “Oh, those gorgeous meaty chunks take the blue ribbon,” she wrote. “Perfectly steamed, served cold, lightly dressed, a satisfying mouthful!”
The most common compliment was “huge.” Globe readers like them big and overstuffed with lobster. A quarter of respondents raved about the amount of meat in their favorite roll. “Fresh lobster that overflows the roll,” raved John Sandell of Sharon about the lobster roll at Green Harbor Lobster Pound in Marshfield. You want so much lobster falling out of that thing, you have to eat it with a fork.
Butter vs. mayo — the debate ends here
We asked you to help settle the debate: Do you prefer Connecticut-style lobster rolls (hot, with butter) or Maine style (cold, with mayo)? Pass the Hellman’s; Maine was the clear choice here, with 85 respondents voting for that version, as opposed to 34 folks who prefer buttery and hot, out of 119 people who voted in this category.
Hold the fancy fixings
You’re also purists. Most of you don’t like a lot of extra stuff junking up your lobster roll, according to your comments. One exception was Susan of Groton, who raved about the avocado specialty lobster roll (“super-fresh and delicious!”) with fried avocado at Bob Lobster in Newbury. Many readers praised the no-frills aspect of their top picks, like Sandy of Lexington, a fan of Woodman’s of Essex, who raved, “Perfectly cooked lobster meat, barely touched by any other ingredients,” and Jeanne Medieros of Massachusetts (no town), who loves the roll at the Bayside Restaurant in Westport and has some strong feelings about mix-ins: “Stuffed with lobster, a dab of mayo (NO CHIVES! NO DILL! NO!)”
Fab fries, best bread
Coleslaw barely rated a mention, but fabulous fries and house-made chips got a shout out from some readers. If you’re a fry fan, head to Lobster Express in Norwell (“amazing fries,” a reader raved), The Seafood Shanty in Bourne, and Scotti’s Drive-In in Leeds (“fabulous seasoned crispy curly fries!” Nancy Goodman of Hadley noted).
A note to lobster roll purveyors who offer an extra-special base for that tasty lobster: It’s appreciated. Lobster Express in Norwell is home to a “buttered sweet brioche roll”, according to Arleen Smith of Hull, while Foster’s Downeast Clambake in York, Maine, got a shout-out from Greg of Boston for its “very hearty, house-baked roll, much better than a skimpy hot dog roll.”
What you’ll pay
Given that lobster is pricey right now, a lobster roll is a luxury treat. We asked how much you were willing to spend for a (presumably fabulous) one. Some offered a range they were comfortable with, or said they’d pay whatever their favorite lobster pound was charging, but the most common response was $25 (by 32 readers). Ten people would spend $20 for one. A few readers said that price was no object: Janet of Marshfield said “A good one is priceless,” while Rosemary of Maine noted, “Whatever I have to spend for this amazing treat.” Ladies, if we ever go out for lunch, you’re buying.
Gotta have a view
If you’re paying these prices for a meal, you want it to come with a view, no? Places that got high marks for ambience included Portland Lobster Co. in Portland (“live music, drinks on the wharf, awesome!” wrote Cynthia of Saco, Maine), along with Thurston’s Lobster Pound in Bernard, Maine; Seafood Shanty in Bourne; Sesuit Harbor Café in Dennis; and Bite into Maine in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Who do you love?
“A lobster roll is a many-splendored thing. Translation: There are many great places to enjoy them,” wrote Andrew R. of La Jolla, Calif. Amen to that, Andrew! Most of the recommendations we got were for seafood joints plain and fancy, but there were a few surprising locations, like Nightshade Noodle Bar in Lynn, Grace Church in Vineyard Haven (for their Friday night lobster roll dinners), Poor Boy’s Diner in Londonderry, N.H., Warren Tavern, Boston; and Kelly’s Roast Beef, Saugus.
We got some grief for omitting Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, Maine. Yes, we’ve heard of the place — who hasn’t? But frankly, we wouldn’t wait an hour and a half for any sandwich, unless Chris Hemsworth was working the counter, wearing only an apron. (Especially since you can get a perfectly fine lobster roll at Sprague’s, right across the street.) Still, we’re impressed by Red’s zealous fan base. Not everyone’s a believer, though — a reader from Arlington wrote, “I’m glad to see that Red’s Eats has dropped off the list. It was overhyped for no apparent reason.”
Your favorites among the places we mentioned:
Sesuit Harbor Café, Dennis (serious fan base here); Bite into Maine, Cape Elizabeth, Maine; The Skipper, South Yarmouth; Lobster Landing, Clinton, Conn.; Belle Isle Seafood, Winthrop; Neptune Oyster, Boston; and Blount Clam Shack, Warren, R.I.
Best lobster roll we missed: Green Harbor Lobster Pound, Marshfield
You poured the love on this one like Connecticut pours on the hot butter. At least a half-dozen readers deemed this one their favorite, praising its hefty size and simplicity. “It’s simple and the best — try the jumbo,” advised Ellen Thurston of Duxbury. “It’s cash only — come early since they run out,” said John Sandell of Sharon, adding, “the best!”
Other lobster rolls that proved to be fan favorites include Brax Landing in Harwich Port; Bob Lobster, Newbury; Woodman’s of Essex; Reel House, East Boston; Lobster Shack, Ogunquit, Maine; the Raw Bar in Mashpee; the Clam Shack, Kennebunk, Maine; Red’s Eats, Wiscasset, Maine; and Cousins Maine Lobster food trucks (in Massachusetts, Maine, and Connecticut).
Globe reader picks for best lobster roll in New England:
Herewith, a list of the favorites from our reader poll and Bair/Wright’s inbox. Hope you’re hungry; it’ll take you from now to Labor Day to sample them all.
Horse & Carriage, Norfolk; Kelly’s Roast Beef, Saugus; Harry’s Restaurant & Diner, Westborough; James Hook & Co., Boston; Farnum’s, Essex; Raw Bar, Mashpee; Jimmy’s Portside, Narragansett, R.I.; Quarterdeck, Falmouth; the Clam Shack, Kennebunk; Brax Landing, Harwich Port; Captain Scott’s, New London, Conn.; The Bayside Restaurant, Westport; Grace Church, Vineyard Haven; Abbott’s Lobster, Noank, Conn.; Lobster Shack, Ogunquit, Maine; Eventide, Boston; Row 34, Boston; Talise, Annisquam; Lobster Shack, Newport, R.I.; Portland Lobster Co., Portland; Red’s Eats, Wiscasset; Barking Claw, Falmouth; Takeaway, Norwood; The Snack Shack, Haydenville; Blount Clam Shack, Warren, R.I.; Lobster Pound, Rockport; the Chart Room, Cataumet; Chatham Fish Pier, Chatham; Nightshade Noodle Bar, Lynn; Seaport Grille, Gloucester; Monahan’s, Narragansett, R.I.; Thurston’s Lobster Pound, Bernard, Maine; Lobster Pot, Bristol, Rhode Island; Bob Lobster, Newbury; Spanky’s Clam Shack, Hyannis; Cousin’s Maine Lobster food truck; The Lobster Boat, Litchfield, N.H.; Maguire’s Bar & Grill, North Easton; Green Harbor Lobster Pound, Marshfield; Jake’s Seafood, Hull; Seafood Ketch, Bar Harbor, Maine; Bob’s Clam Shack, Kittery, Maine; Basco Grill, Eastham; Skipjack’s at Patriot Place, Foxborough; Geno’s Chowder & Sandwich Shop, Portsmouth, N.H.; Burke’s Seafood, Quincy; Anthony’s, Stoneham; Woodman’s of Essex, Essex; Foster’s Downeast Clambake, York, Maine; PJ’s, Wellfleet; Alisson’s, Kennebunkport, Maine; Stowe’s Seafood, West Haven, Conn.; Anthony’s, Middletown, R.I.; J.P’s Restaurant & Pub, Westborough; Lobster Express, Norwell; Forestdale Bait & Tackle Fish Market, Forestdale; Scotti’s Drive-In, Leeds; Joe’s on a Roll, Beverly; Cap’t Cass, Orleans; Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound, Southwest Harbor, Maine; Little Harbor Fish Market, Marblehead; the Seafood Shanty, Bourne; Hingham Lobster Pound, Hingham; Sandy’s Fish & Chip at John’s Fish Market, Vineyard Haven; Scargo Café, Dennis; The Lobster Trap, Bourne; Poor Boy’s Diner, Londonderry, N.H.; Joe & Lenny’s Fish Tale, Madison, Conn.; The Raw Bar, Hyannis; Reel House, East Boston; Tiny’s Restaurant, Ayer; Choate Bridge Pub, Ipswich; Warren Tavern, Boston; Fresh Pond Seafood, Arlington; Captain Jack’s, Easthampton; Young’s Fish Market, Orleans; Lobster Shack, East Haven, Conn.; Lobster Pound, Guilford, Conn.; Markey’s Lobster Pool, Seabrook, N.H.; Maine Diner, Wells, Maine; Corea Lunch on the Wharf, Corea, Maine; Neptune Oyster, Boston; The Skipper, South Yarmouth; Sesuit Harbor Café, Dennis; Bite into Maine, Cape Elizabeth, Maine; Belle Isle Seafood, Winthrop.
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org