Baked stuffed lobster — the classic New England dish of lobster stuffed with crackers and drawn butter, and sometimes shrimp, scallops, and crab — is summer on a plate. Once upon a time, the dish was a standard on seafood menus, but not so much these days, in part, because it is so labor-intensive. But you’ll be happy as a clam to discover these iconic New England spots where baked stuffed lobsters are still a summery thing.
Boone’s Fish House & Oyster Room, Portland, Maine
Rumor has it that baked stuffed lobster was invented here in 1839 by owner/chef Alexander Boone. Today, it is the restaurant’s signature dish. “It consistently polls as more popular than any Maine politician,” says Chris O’Neal, spokesman for the restaurant. “In the mid-20th century, if celebrities came to Maine, their visit wasn’t complete unless they had a BSL at Boone’s.”
The recipe calls for a Maine lobster stuffed with “gobs of tasty Maine scallops and lobster, several secret seasonings, chive, parsley, mayonnaise, and just enough cracker crumbs to make it hold together,” says O’Neal. After the lobster is stuffed, it is ladled with drawn butter and browned in the oven until a golden-brown crust is formed. Pick your size: “We generally have bad boy lobsters weighing in at 2, 3, and 4 pounds,” says O’Neal. www.boonesfishhouse.com
Bay Pointe Waterfront Restaurant, Quincy
Baked stuffed lobster is served year-round here and flies out of the kitchen during the summer. And it is a looker. “It is one of those dishes that, as servers carry them past tables who have not decided on an order yet, we notice a big sudden burst of orders from those tables who saw it walk by,” says co-owner Erik Hynes.
The dish is a 2-pound lobster created with claw meat, sautéed local scallops, stuffing, and topped with grilled shrimp. “Lobster is inherently New England just in general and no matter how many new ways chefs have come up with to prepare it, everyone in this area (especially on the South Shore) knows what baked stuffed lobster is and knows that it is one of those special dishes meant for a Saturday night out or a special occasion,” says Hynes. “It seems to transcend decades and generations and sticks with us no matter what else is changing around it. Baked stuffed lobsters, lobster roll, and fried clams — some things will never change.” www.innatbaypointe.com
Empire Grille AT VENUS DE MILO, SWANSEA
This third-generation family-owned restaurant has a signature baked stuffed lobster that was once endorsed as the best in Southern New England by former-employee-turned-celeb-chef Emeril Lagasse.
First served here in 1961, the lobster is stuffed with lobster tail meat, and a “special mix of butters, Ritz cracker, and spicing,” says Monte Ferris Jr., managing partner. Hungry? Go for the 3½-pound lobster. And for a perfect pairing sip, order the 2013 Alex Gambal Puligny Montrachet or 2014 Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay. Gift from the sea: The baked stuffed lobsters can be shipped overnight, nationwide. www.empiregrillerestaurant.net
The Lobster Pot, PROVINCETOWN
The Cape is a perfect salty spot for anything lobster. And the classic Ritz cracker stuffing is behind the baked stuffed lobster at P-town’s illustrious Lobster Pot. The dish is typically served as a 1½-pounder stuffed with a mix of those Ritz crackers, sautéed onions, celery, and some shrimp, scallops, and crabmeat. You can also add-on stuffing to any size boiled lobster you like. www.ptownlobsterpot.com
Causeway Restaurant, GLOUCESTER
Ask North Shore locals where the best baked stuffed lobster is and they’ll point you to the Causeway. They stuff them into this bustling, BYOB restaurant (expect a wait). Huge portions of classic seafood dishes and pasta are marched out of the kitchen, including a baked stuffed lobster dish that’s stuffed with scallops, shrimp, and house-made, buttery, and seasoned breadcrumbs. www.thecausewayrestaurant.com
Stonehurst Manor, North Conway, N.H.
“It is one New England classic that screams summer,” says Barbara Sisson, marketing director at Stonehurst Manor, home to The Wild Rose Restaurant. Baked stuffed lobster has been a standard on the menu here for 30 years, served with a baked potato, veggie of the night, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc — and mountain views. The stuffing recipe is a blend of the buttery Ritz-cracker-crumb mixture, lobster meat, and scallops. While not on the regular menu this summer, it is offered “as often as possible” as a nightly special. www.stonehurstmanor.com
Laurie Wilson can be reached at email@example.com.