The Best Lobster Roll In Maine

“Saturday Traffic Alert,” read the subject line of an email from our vacation property manager.

We were packing up after a blissful week in midcoast Maine, where my family and I had spent the days either on a boat; on the shore, finding leftover shells in the mudflats; or driving the rural roads of the St. George peninsula. In the evenings, we returned to the house where we cooked our own meals and usually collapsed into bed before 10. Seven days and six nights of pure idyll justified Maine’s self-proclaimed title as “Vacationland.”

But then reality struck: a traffic alert. The property manager explained:

“It happens every year from about the 3rd Saturday in July – through the 3rd Saturday in August – it’s become a regular Maine tradition. The ‘great Wiscasset bottleneck.’ The small village of Wiscasset has a well known food wagon called “Red’s Eats” right in the center of the village the [sic] develops long lines early in the day. As a result, traffic slows to figure out why people wait for hours to get a lobster roll (that we think is no different than lobster rolls elsewhere) and all those ‘rubberneckers’ build up the traffic lines quickly.”

We hadn’t heard a traffic report in over a week, and now, if we didn’t leave town early enough, we would have to endure a traffic jam – for a lobster roll.
I came to know of Red’s earlier in the week soon after a friend caught wind that I was in Maine: “Seriously, you must go to Red’s! Best lobster roll on the planet. DO NOT MISS THIS. MUST GET THERE NO LATER THAN 11:45. Crazy lines.”

Unswayed by caps lock and frankly too far from Wiscasset, I had my first-ever lobster roll in the state of Maine from Miller’s Lobster Company, a Spruce Head shack with its own fans. Located on Wheeler Bay, with invigorating views of placid water and blue spruces, Miller’s had no lines but there was a wait of about 30 tummy-grumbling minutes for our chosen crustaceans to go from tank to pot to bun. Served on a split-top potato roll – kind of a like a hot dog bun moonlighting as a slice of white bread – and with a plastic ramekin of melted butter and bag of Lay’s potato chips, Miller’s lobster roll seemed like the perfect lunch. As I bit into the fresh chunks of bun-swaddled lobster meat, I thought, “How can any seafood place anywhere improve upon this?”

While I was confident in my endorsement of Miller’s, I was even more impressed with the trap-to-table ethos of seafood dining in Maine. The lobster capital of the United States – if not the world – Maine harvested more than 100 million pounds of lobster in 2011 and is on track to shatter that record this year. Lobster isn’t just rich man’s food in Maine, it is everywhere, a fact that doesn’t compute until you’re driving on coastal Route 1, passing signs claiming “the best lobster roll in Maine” about every 3.7 seconds. I saw lobster rolls advertised for $9.99 at roadside stands to $18 at The Pearl, the kitchen of “Food Network Star” contestant Michele Ragussis. Most places charged about $14 for their rolls, to me a princely sum considering the lobster content of a roll added up to about two claws’ worth of meat dressed with a bit of mayonnaise and/or butter. Besides, lobsters were selling for about $6.50 per pound at the dock.

Convinced that the lobster roll price fluctuation was based solely on the labor costs of extracting the meat from the shell rather than some magic mayonnaise recipe, my husband and I visited Owls Head’s Ship to Shore lobster pound on our second night and purchased two medium-sized lobsters for our meal. As they sat in a paper bag on my lap on the drive home, then as they quietly chirped in the fridge while we brought a large pot of water to a boil, I realized the market price of a lobster roll was a tariff on convenience. Once cooked, these lobsters that had been skittering only hours earlier on the rocky bottom of the Atlantic Ocean (the very waters from which all the area’s seafood dinners had originated), produced the sweetest, most luscious meat I had ever tasted. That we had cooked the lobsters ourselves, creating a 20-napkin mess as we cracked the claws, split open the tails and gingerly removed the flesh with lobster picks, was more satisfying than waiting while someone else made dinner. Renting a house, rather than staying in a resort or bed and breakfast, afforded us the chance to live as Mainers, to cook in our own kitchen. We bought and cooked our own lobsters four out of seven nights.

Early morning on the sixth day, as we were mentally preparing to leave the midcoast, I checked my email and found the traffic alert from the landlord. We hadn’t made it to Red’s Eats or to the dozens of other diners, restaurants and shacks beckoning with “best lobster roll” signs. But I was relieved to read the statement that Red’s rolls were no different than lobster rolls elsewhere.

Why would vacationers line up for hours for a lobster roll when they have likely spent the last week or two gorging on the same fare without having had to take a number and wait? While I bet Red’s rolls were delicious – I’ve never had a lobster roll that wasn’t – I have a hunch that Red’s reels in the tourists who just can’t say goodbye to that midcoast Maine state of mind.

Why You Want To Eat At Wendy’s In Japan

No, it’s not because the french fries are more delicious than the ones at McDonald’s. Wendy’s restaurants in Japan have added two new luxe items to their menu, a Lobster Surf & Turf burger and a Premium Caviar & Lobster sandwich.

Burger Business (yes, that’s an actual website) reports that the sandwiches will go for about $16 USD. If you just cant choose, they’re also offering a Garden Sensation salad with lobster and caviar for around $20.

This isn’t the first time Wendy’s has used the Japanese market for unique offerings. The chain left the country in 2009 and returned in 2011, offering dishes like a foie gras and truffle burger and an Iberian bacon chili deluxe hamburger.

What do you say? Is it worth the trip to Japan to score some discounted lobster?

*An earlier version of this article stated that Wendy’s returned in 2001. Thanks to commenter Sarita for noting that time travel is not yet possible.

Electric blue lobster found in London fish market

While dark blue is the typical color for the European lobster (while alive), an electric blue lobster, on the other hand, is a bit of a rarity. Found by Rex Goldsmith at the Billingsgate Fish Market in London, this lobster was “too nice to put in a pot and boil”, according to Goldsmith. Instead, he contacted crustacean scientist, Paul Clark, at the Natural History Museum. Clark confirmed the the lobster is common (European) in species, but its color is being seen as a rare genetic variant. The specimen was sent to and will remain at the London Aquarium. After it has completed its quarantine, the lobster is set to stay on display in the aquarium, hopefully for years to come. So, for all of you lobster-lovers in London–you’re probably going to want to check this exhibit out.

Photo of the day – What’s for dinner?

Food photography (or less delicately, food porn) are always a popular travel subject. Travelers love to capture the unusual, the delicious, and the beautiful eats of the world. This shot by Flickr user Marisoleta of

a live lobster tied up in Kyoto, Japan manages to be all three. Marisoleta explains that it was part of an offering demonstrated by a priest in one of Kyoto’s largest festivals, and as usual, the Japanese show their flair for food presentation. The lobster seems to be at peace with his fate, whether it’s to be boiled and eaten with melted butter, or untied and set back into the water.

Add your favorite food shots to the Gadling Flickr pool and if they make us hungry, we might use one for a future Photo of the Day.

Four Hotels for a Free Lobster Dinner for Two

Nothing goes with summer quite like the cracking of lobster shells (and wearing a bib, even if you’re a grown man). You can get a lobster anywhere, but if you’re within a few hours of the New England coast, the whole experiences changes dramatically. This summer, four hotels are willing to give you and your guest a free lobster dinner when you stay only one night. Of course, it isn’t a lobster dinner without corn on the cob, clam chowder and blueberry pie, all of which you should expect to find on your table, as well.

Rates vary, ranging from $179 to $299, depending on the hotel, but it comes out to a savings of around $150 at each of them. To take advantage of this deal, check out the properties below:

The Sagamore, Lake George, New York (code: LOBSTER)

The Wentworth, New Hampshire (code: LPR)

The Samoset, Maine (code: DATE)

The Harborside Hotel, Bar Harbor, Maine (code: DATE)