Battle Lobster Roll

Michael Nagrant / 09.13.06

red eats lobster roll

Red’s Eat’s Lobster Roll

Mid-nineties songwriter Juliana Hatfield, whose tune “Spin the Bottle” anchored the Reality Bites soundtrack and Maine’s best lobster rolls have one thing in common: They’re both from Wiscasset, Maine.

Unlike Hatfield, who’s undoubtedly the only major songwriter to hail from the sleepy mid-coastal Maine village, there are plenty of roadside stands and seaside shacks serving up lobster rolls. Hungry magazine stopped at two of the best.

The Seabasket at 303 Old Bath Rd at Route 1, 207-882-6581

sea basket sign

This highway side restaurant, open since 1981 and operated by the Belanger family, is proud of the fact that they use no trans fats. There are more signs touting their preference for “healthy” canola oil and a state of the art convection frying system than graffiti in the New York subway. Don’t despair, the onion rings and the French fries are so crispy and tasty, they might as well be fried in butter.

The lobster roll ($14.50 –varies according to market price), served on bread that’s a cross between a hot dog bun and a French baguette is filled with a generous portion of lobster tail and claw meat glistening with mayo and a hint of lemon. As a Midwesterner who believes mayo should be required for everything short of chocolate cake, it hits the spot.

sea basket lobster roll

The star of the joint though is their creamy Maine Lobster stew (9.99 a cup-also varies according to market price) filled with toothsome fresh succulent chunks of lobster. It’s a study in contradiction-hearty, warming, and yet it doesn’t pool like a rich gut bomb moat at the bottom of your stomach.

sea basket stew

Red’s Eats at Water and Main Streets, 207-882-6128

red's sign

Unlike their competitors up the street, the folks at Red’s Eats make no pretenses of health. Everything at this joint is smothered in cheese and butter or wrapped in bacon. The sturdley ($1.50), a toothsome hot dog smothered in cheese and drizzled with tangy sauerkraut or topped with bacon makes my beloved Chicago dog look like a Paris Hilton diet plan.


Ultimately though, coming to Maine for hot dogs is like looking for skilled rappers at a Kevin Federline video shoot. Lobster is what they do best. I’d love to say Red’s roll ($12.50) was neck and neck with The Seabasket, but there is no comparison. Served up on thick Texas toast like bread with a pound and a half of unadulterated fat chunky tail meat and served with a golden bowl of fresh drawn butter, this roll is hands down the best money can buy. It also reaffirms the truth of lobster. You can smother it with cheese, dollop on some mayo, or bake it with breadcrumbs, but you’re just gilding the lilly, and some cases, masking the flavor.

Where to find Chicago Lobster Rolls:

If you can’t make it to the Maine coast before the end of fall, you should hop on over to The Fish Guy at 4423 N. Elston Ave. When you place your order, they fish a lobster from the tank, steam it, pluck the meat out, and mix it with with celery, herb mayo and a little lemon juice, and spread it out on two 6” baguettes. Best of all it’s as good as the Seabasket’s version, even though you’re about a thousand miles from the sea.