The Best Lobster Roll in Brooklyn
Lobster Roll fans fall into two distinct camps. One says it needs to be hot with butter while the other says cold, with mayonnaise, though both groups agree the whole thing belongs on a top-split white bread hot dog bun. While there will never be a definitive answer as to which is better, history does show that the original lobster roll was hot and buttered.
The history of the lobster roll is difficult to pin down, but it's safe to say they it's a twentieth century invention because of the required modern hot dog bun. Most stories trace the roll as it stands today back to Harry Perry, owner of a restaurant called Perry's in Milford Connecticut, who is said to have created a recipe for hot buttered lobster meat on a hot dog bun for a customer named Ted Hales in the 1920s. This recipe was an immediate success, and popped up at restaurants all along the Connecticut coast, but it didn't get much farther than that.
It isn't till around the 1960s that Fred Terry, owner of the Lobster Roll Lunch in Amagansett, New York, is pegged down as the creator of the cold lobster roll, made with a mayo based lobster salad with celery and seasoning on a heated hot dog bun. The popularity of this style of lobster roll throughout new England can probably be attributed to its ease of preparation and portability. The lobster is cold and can be prepared a day in advance, while the hot lobster roll has to be cooked immediately prior to serving.
As previously stated, at Alder New York we take our lobster very seriously, so we decided to do a taste test to get a definitive answer to which roll is indeed the best. On the East Coast, home of the lobster roll, this could prove a never ending taste test, so we decided to narrow our test down to Brooklyn specifically.
LUKE'S LOBSTER - MAINE STYLE $16.00
DAVID: "This is amazing; it's the perfect combination between seasoning and lobster flavor. The roll is perfectly buttered and toasted, and the mayo is almost undetectable, but provides a level of moisture that makes it really delectable."
NINA: "The bun makes this for me: it's grilled just right to absorb the wetness of the ingredients while still being crunchy and buttery. And the lobster is cooked perfectly. No chewiness whatsoever, and it sits perfectly with the mayonnaise."
CONSENSUS: Everything about this lobster roll works. Between the bun, the seasoning, the amount of mayo, and the doneness of the lobster, this is the most enjoyable roll, bite for bite.
RED HOOK LOBSTER POUND - MAINE STYLE $17.00
DAVID: "It's colder than most lobster rolls, and a bit tougher to bite into. It tastes pretty much like just lobster. There's a lot more crunch than I would expect. "
NINA: "Do you like the crunch?"
DAVID: "No, I don't like the crunch. It's too crunchy. I kind of don't like this at all."
CONSENSUS: All the green makes for a very pretty lobster roll, but in terms of flavor, the lettuce provides nothing, and we found the crunch distracting. While there is more mayo in this roll than in Luke's, the whole thing tastes dryer - the lobster feels maybe slightly overcooked. All in all, not a satisfactory roll to eat.
RED HOOK LOBSTER POUND - CONNETICUT STYLE $17.00
DAVID: "It's buttery and lobstery. I like the addition of the scallions. It gives it a little bit of flavor."
NINA: "This one allows the lobster to shine. I still think the lobster is just slightly overdone. It's dry. But the hot butter does a lot to help it go down."
DAVID: "And no lettuce. Which is good."
CONSENSUS: Of the two rolls, this one has much more flavor, although the paprika doesn't do anything. The lobster pieces are still a bit too big, which leads to dryness in some bites, but the butter helps. This is a pretty good roll.
FAIRWAY MARKET - MAINE STYLE $9.99
NINA: "This is good, but I don't feel quite like I'm eating a lobster roll. More like a lobster salad on a roll. Actually, on a hot dog bun, which isn't exactly a lobster bread-roll."
DAVID: "There's a nice flavor. I can really taste the red onion and the scallions. I can't really detect the lobster, but the texture of the lobster is really nice, really well cooked. And I like the lettuce on this one, because the bun lacks the toastiness that I like, so the lettuce adds a bit more bite."
NINA: "You cannot beat this price. This is where I'd go if I had like, eight kids, and wanted them to have a lobster roll experience but didn't want to break the bank. You even get a pickle and cole-slaw with it."
DAVID: "It's really cheap. It doesn't feel like they're skimping out on lobster, either. There's just as much lobster and good claw pieces for it's price. I don't know how they do it."
NINA: "That's Fairway for you. The prices!"
CONSENSUS: Overall it's an enjoyable eating experience, but it doesn't really fulfill our desire for a lobster roll. The amount of mayonnaise, size of the lobster pieces, and lack of a sufficiently grilled bun (and lack of correct bun) makes this feel like a different type of roll altogether.
GREENPOINT FISH & LOBSTER CO. - MAINE STYLE $25.00
DAVID: "It looks small compared to the the others rolls we've had."
NINA: "The lobster is cooked perfectly. The sweetness of the lobster shines though and the tarragon adds so much. This is just slightly less delicious than Luke's, because it's a bit less melt in your mouth perfect."
DAVID: "It's the tail meat mixed in with the claw. Luke's is all claw. The tail meat makes the whole thing a bit tougher. It's tasty though; I like the tarragon. Not too much mayonnaise, and the roll is nicely buttered and toasted. I noticed the celery more than in any of the others' and I like it."
NINA: "This is close to Luke's deliciousness, but it's so much pricier. I know you get sides, but they're not exactly big sides."
DAVID: "It's literally eight fries."
CONSENSUS: An extremely good Main style roll, but a bit pricey for what you're getting. This was a close runner up in the Maine style category, but the tail meat adds unwanted chewiness, the roll itself seems smaller than the competitors, and though you get fries, a pickle, and slaw, they're not substantial enough to warrant the hefty price tag.
LOBSTER JOINT - MAINE STYLE $17.00
DAVID: "This could be tuna on a roll. I can't taste it at all. All I taste is mayonnaise. It's mystery fish and mayonnaise."
NINA: "Way too much mayonnaise, and really stringy small pieces of lobster."
DAVID: "The bun wasn't even toasted that well."
NINA: "I've never not finished a lobster roll before."
CONSENSUS: This is the worst lobster roll in Brooklyn. Flavorless and chewy, yet soggy at the same time.
LOBSTER JOINT - CONNETICUT STYLE $17.00
NINA: "There's this old joke where two old ladies complain about a bad tasting meal, 'and the portions, they're so small!' That's this, right here. Small lobster roll, also disgusting."
DAVID: "This is way over cooked lobster. Lobster should not feel like this! It's almost gritty."
NINA: "I have to spit this out. The lobster tastes like rubber."
DAVID: "The bun is very buttery, and toasted well. The roll is the best part, which makes this a terrible lobster roll."
CONSENSUS: A disappointing eating experience. The lobster is dry, and there's no flavor at all. You might as well be eating at Joe's Crab Shack.