August 8, 2011

Summer-O-Rama: Lobster Rolls

Ed. Note: The original Porthole closed in October of 2012 and has since reopened. This review is of the now closed Porthole.

This month, local bloggers team up to bring you reviews of lobster rolls around town (see the Portland Food Map for the round up).  As usual, I waited until the last minute, so my plans to check out the new food truck at Fort Williams, Bite Into Maine, were thwarted.

But that's OK, because in the end, the Porthole is a better place to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than Portland Head Light.  I was excited to go, as I've always had a good time and good food at the Porthole.  (I've raved about their brunch before.)  Plus, I had my good friend A. in tow yesterday, so all signs pointed to yes.

But 3pm is a weird time to go to a restaurant, so there were some service hiccups (no, it's cool, I love going to the bar for refills and extra napkins, thanks).

And when you're excited about a lobster roll- the cool lobster salad mixing with the buttery, salty, crunchy bun- getting a sandwich with two pieces of crumbling, dry brioche is disappointing. With a squeeze of lemon, the lobster salad was nice (nothing but chopped lobster and mayo).  But the sandwich bread didn't add anything and didn't even hold up for very long.

But as another friend pointed out later, a lobster roll needs to have a container to be successful.  Sandwich style doesn't cut it.  All the lobster ends up on your plate instead of in your mouth.  The split top bun is necessary, so a departure from it (and a poorly executed one at that) doesn't do anything to improve the classic roll.

I didn't find the best lobster roll in town, but I really enjoyed talking to people about their lobster roll preferences.  I've yet to met a person who doesn't have an opinion, and usually they suggest the best rolls are from places up and down the coast.  This makes me think that eating a good lobster roll is less about the lobster and the bun and more about the scenery.

While the Porthole is scenic, my longing for a buttered, toasted split top bun overcame the quality of the lobster salad and the view.  I'll let the Porthole stick to what it's good at: Sunday Funday and beers on the deck.  But my quest for the best (I'll even take good!) lobster roll in Southern Maine continues.