Samoset Executive Chef Tim Pierce gives his take on the iconic lobster roll, plus his picks for the most mouthwatering rolls in the state.
Tim Pierce will tell you there are two types of lobster rolls: traditional chilled and warm. Growing up in Maine, he has tried them all – out of the back of a food truck, from a shanty on the water, fine dining with white linens, and even from his own kitchen – and learned a few things.
The traditional lobster roll, for the last 70-plus years, has been nothing more than chilled, chopped fresh lobster meat with a bit of mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, served on a split-top New England–style hot dog bun that has been buttered and toasted golden brown on a flat-top grill.
“You can add a touch of lemon juice, and I have gone as far as to use Lawry’s seasoning salt, but beyond that, you’re messing with perfection,” says Pierce. “Just set up a small shack on the side of Route 1, and you will have the traffic backed up for miles.”
Warm, with a Twist
On the other end of the spectrum is the warm lobster roll, best served on a cool summer night or just as the fog rolls in over the coast. This time, fresh lobster is tossed on a flat-top to heat, finished with a slab of butter, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and served on a toasted bun with a wedge of lemon, maybe a side of mayonnaise.
“The big controversy is gaanish,” says Pierce with a thick Maine accent. “Do you or do you not add a piece of lettuce to the roll before you fill it with lobster?”
It all depends on how hungry you are, he laughs. If you have company and want to impress, a little green shows off some Down East flair. Otherwise, you’re just wasting time to enjoy one of Maine’s most prized dishes.
Red’s Eats [Wiscasset]
One of the most famous rolls in the area is served out of a little red shed tucked along Route 1, just 50 minutes south of Samoset Resort. Don’t let the long line discourage you; it’s worth the wait with rolls packed with the meat from a one-pound lobster. ***Closes seasonally
Five Islands Lobster Company [Georgetown]
The “Big Boy” lobster roll is packed with twice the meat of a regular roll and served on a homemade potato roll. You’ll forget all about the hour drive it took to get there from Rockport once you’ve tasted the meat, pulled from the waters just minutes before.
The Lobster Dock [Boothbay Harbor]
Bobby Flay may have stopped here for a crab cake Throwdown, but it’s the hot lobster roll served with butter that’s the draw. Prefer a cold roll? They have that, too. **Closes seasonally
Samoset Resort [Rockport]
Of course, Pierce wouldn’t leave his own kitchen out of the mix. This roll is slightly larger than most and only uses the claw and knuckle meat – the sweetest and most tender bites.