Along with ice cream and hot dogs, lobster rolls reign supreme as one of summer’s top treats, especially in New England. But beloved far beyond Maine and Massachusetts, these shellfish sandwiches have been popping up on menus everywhere as chefs seek to re-create — or reinvent — an Atlantic classic. Whether you’re a lobster-roll traditionalist or you prefer to think outside the bun, we found 10 unique versions to try now.
B&G Oysters, Boston
Though there’s no shortage of seafood restaurants in the Hub, cozy B&G Oysters occupies the upper echelons with an extensive raw bar and superb menu from Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Barbara Lynch (of Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Menton and Four-Star No. 9 Park fame). Don’t miss the South End’s most celebrated lobster roll at B&G. Maine lobster is lightly dressed with lemon aioli, mixed with celery, topped with fresh chives, loaded into a buttered, toasted, split-top Pepperidge Farm hot dog bun and served with French fries and pickles.
The Lobster Roll, Amagansett, N.Y.
When you’re Hamptons bound, The Lobster Roll—aka Lunch, in honor of its most prominent feature, a sign advertising “lunch”—is a Montauk Highway pit stop that lobster-roll puritans must make. Grab a seat at an outdoor picnic table and dig into a roll filled with big chunks of cold-water claw and knuckle meat, a bit of mayonnaise and some celery. There are no herbs, spices or sauces here—just quality lobster meat on a grilled, split-top bun. But even this traditionalist haven offers lobster rolls with a twist; there’s a gluten-free version and a mini slider, too. Chowing down here is, without a doubt, one of the area’s best food experiences.
The Clam Shack, Kennebunkport, Maine
Out of an unassuming clapboard cabin on the Kennebunk River comes some of New England’s freshest lobster rolls. The Clam Shack’s take-away rolls begin with local lobsters that are only out of their native water for five minutes before arriving at the eatery and being immersed in salt water pumped in from the tidal river below. The Clam Shack then boils the lobsters in saltwater and drizzles the meat with melted butter. Just as much care is paid to the bread: A century-old family bakery prepares this dough with a hint of sweetness to balance the lobster’s salt. The result—served with a smear of mayo and a slice of lemon—is as pure, and as artisanal, as a Maine lobster roll gets.
American Fish, Las Vegas
Rustic isn’t an adjective often associated with Las Vegas, but Michael Mina’s American Fish brings cabin chic to the Strip at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star ARIA Resort & Casino—and its lobster roll appetizer is appropriately classic yet unexpected. The base here at the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended restaurant is a buttered, grilled Parker House roll; it’s topped with a mixture of chopped lobster meat, tartar sauce, red onion and celery, and drizzled with melted Old Bay-seasoned butter.
Hinoki & The Bird, Los Angeles
The Asian-inspired lobster roll at Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker David Myers’ latest Los Angeles restaurant is like nothing you’ve seen before: It’s jet-black. The roll is made with 20-percent Japanese charcoal powder to create a stunning, soft, split-top bun. It’s then filled with lobster that’s been tossed with green curry aioli and garnished with Thai basil and opal basil blossoms. With this dish, Myers and Hinoki & The Bird executive chef Kuniko Yagi perfectly encapsulate the restaurant’s Silk Road-style cuisine with a nod to New England.
Topper’s, Nantucket, Mass.
There’s hardly a more stunning setting for a lobster roll than Topper’s restaurant at The Wauwinet, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel perched between Nantucket Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Like all of his seafood specialties, executive chef Kyle Zachary’s lobster roll is imbued with fresh flavors—a high heap of bite-size lobster chunks is served on a buttered, round roll with Boston Bibb and lemon aioli for a zesty kick. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant serves the roll with bread-and-butter pickle chips and Old Bay-seasoned, hand-cut fries.
The Spence, Atlanta
The unbridled creativity of Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Richard Blais imprints every dish at his popular Atlanta restaurant. After all, this is a chef for whom “surf and turf” means roasted bone marrow topped with tuna tartare and fried quail eggs (a Spence essential). Blais’ lobster roll is no exception. The Spence’s open kitchen turns out “knuckle sandwiches:” lobster-knuckle salad with smoked aioli, tarragon and lemon confit, topped with pickled celery, braised mustard seeds and celery leaves on a New England-style roll. The playful dish is served with crispy chicharróns and finished with lobster salt.
Little Market Brasserie, Chicago
The sidewalk café of this recently opened Gold Coast eatery at The Talbott Hotel is the ideal place to enjoy what should be Chicago’s newest summer staple: the Baja lobster roll. Chef Ryan Poli amps up his version with chipotle-mayo, cabbage coleslaw and lemon vinaigrette. Fresh, chopped Maine lobster is placed atop the slaw on a buttered, griddled New England-style roll. Wash it down with one of Little Market Brasserie’s bubbly charged sodas—just pick a flavor (apple lavender, perhaps) and a spirit (such as pisco or gin).
Outer Bar & Grille, Cape Cod, Mass.
Situated on the beach at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, the open-air Outer Bar & Grille is home to a lively summer scene—and one of Cape Cod’s best (and certainly biggest) lobster rolls. Executive chef James Hackney’s classic version involves a huge helping of large chunks and whole claws on a white, split roll. There are minimal ingredients—just a bit of mayo and celery—so the lobster is the star. Lightly dressed mixed greens are the perfect complement.
The lobster roll at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Boston’s Asana melds luxury with comfort. The not-so-secret ingredient livening up the Back Bay lunch favorite? Mango. The diced fruit joins lobster and gem lettuce on a brioche roll in this upscale iteration. Since joining the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant last year, executive chef Rachel Klein has made globally-influenced local favorites like this one a signature—sashimi of Rhode Island fluke and black cod in shiitake and bacon dashi are two kindred menu highlights.
Photos Courtesy of www.justinide.com, The Clam Shack and Julia Fenner