Lobster Roll Dreams, Road Trip Themes

Every trip needs a good theme, and my roadtrip reunion with my college roommate Chase became all about the Lobster Roll. In a few short days I went from never having a lobster roll to morphing into a pretentious food critic – it was great!

Jimmy is not to be trusted

We left New York City hungry. We knew a scrumptious lobster roll awaited somewhere around New Haven. Once our bellies began to growl, Chase said, “It’s time for round one!” I whipped out my phone and loaded up Foursquare 2.0. I was explaining to Chase the merits of the new Foursquare, “It’s like Yelp but personalized to your tastes.” I put the new Foursquare on a pedestal, found it recommending a place called Jimmies of the Savin Rock. Whoa. What a prestigious-sounding name. I scrolled through the reviews looking for the key words and my eyes found what I was looking for. I excitedly read it out loud, “Lobster Roll was heavenly!” Minutes later we were at Jimmies.

I sank my teeth into the roll. Delicious. I looked at Chase’s reaction. He too look pleased. Then, he didn’t. Then he got this look on his face that said, “We was robbed!”

Turns out, this was the worst lobster roll he’d ever had. After the buttery goodness first satiated our growling hunger, it became apparent we were duped. Jimmy pulled a fast one. They had a garbage product covered up with butter. This expensive ($20), yet worthless lobster roll was a soggy hot dog bun filled with shredded lobster leftovers.

“Never Again.”

With a new sense of resolve (and after a scathing Foursquare review), we returned to our wheels and rolled to better horizons – Newport RI.

Newport, Rhode Island

That night we played 21 Questions with Bob the hotel shuttle driver, trying to pinpoint the best lobster roll in all the lands of Newport. He referred us to Easton Beach (or as the locals call it, “First Beach”). He threw out the term “locals” so I felt I could trust him. I thought, “Now here’s someone who gets it!” He explained how the locals will park in temporary parking, make an order of two rolls for $12, and quickly leave with food in hand.

After a long and strenuous run along the famous Cliff Walk, we made a rendevous at the Easton’s Beach Snack Bar. (Foursquare, Yelp)

Not a bad view either.

Note the unsaturated hot dog roll. By the way, a “roll” is different and better than a “bun.” Learn more about the lobster roll.

We both agreed this was multiple times better than Jimmies. But Chase held out that the Lobster Roll at Neptune Oyster in Boston was the best roll ever. It was also his first ever, so I was skeptical that his judgement on the matter wasn’t clouded. Anyways, Boston wasn’t in our plans but Cape Cod was, and we’d surely find an equal there.

In the evening we found one more roll. It had a different type of roll, which scored it some points, but overall it was “meh.”

Almost more bread than lobster.

That night however, we had a new shuttle driver. Gene seemed to know more about the ins and outs of the town and after answering our questions, I had a lot more faith in his judgement. He recommended a place off the grid. A place with few reviews. A place that the locals go to. The difference was that only the locals go to it. I was jacked.

That final morning in Newport, we did our best to rebuild our appetite for lobster rolls. As we rolled into the parking lot, I could tell this was a special place.

Nothing special = very special!

You can see the line outside the big building. What you can’t see in the line after the line. We had found it.

Giant pieces.

*If you want to know the name of this special place, email me.

The picture doesn’t do it justice. While advertised as 6 oz, it couldn’t have been less than 12 oz! It reminds me of the saying: “Under-promise, over-deliver.” This special place delivered massive chunks of lobster, over-stuffed in an over-sized roll. This was the one. This was the best. Surely Chase had to agree. Well, he agreed it was the best this trip, but that the one at Neptune Oyster remained unbeaten. Was it nostalgia, or was it for real?

Cape Cod

We left for Hyannis in Cape Cod. I won’t bore you with how Chase thought Hyannis was just south of the town Cape Cod (which doesn’t exist); or how the town while pleasant, had little to offer other than being a jumping off point to Martha’a Vineyard or Nantucket.

Walking around the main street and not finding much to strike our fancy, Chase tossed out a curveball: “Wouldn’t it be crazy if we drove all the way up to Boston just for a lobster roll.” “That would be crazy, wouldn’t it,” I said open-endedly with a far-off gaze. He pulled out his phone and entered his query. Knowing the distance, he probed further, “I wonder how far would be too far…” I replied, “Anything under one hour and 45 minutes probably wouldn’t be too far…” He answered, “It’s one hour and 38 minutes.”

Boston

We drove north to Boston to go to the place where it all started for Chase: Nepture Oyster (Foursquare, Yelp). The land of a lobster roll without equal – or so I could only hope. And I bet Chase could only hope too, otherwise his reputation his a semi-knowledgeable lobster roll aficionado would be shattered. A lot was riding on Neptune Oyster.

We arrived at 7pm, two hours before closing time – more than enough time to get a spot. Actually, it wasn’t. It turns out we would needed to arrive at 4pm to have earned a spot before closing. fSo there was no way we could taste the lobster roll…

This is the part of the story where I have to say there is no big twist. There is no, “we pleaded our case and they said yes.” There was no 25th hour win. We just put our heads down and walked next door to Ernesto’s for pizza.

Our roll of lobster rolls had hobbled to a close. The fabled lobster roll of Neptune Oyster would have to wait.

The Return

On our return journey, we stopped at one last place, the Seven Seas Restaurant in Milford, CT (Foursquare, Yelp).

Jimmy is jealous

It was everything Jimmies wished it was. What a fine cap to a full weekend! The Seven Seas lobster roll was the best of the hot lobster rolls. Meanwhile my secret spot in Newport scored the highest on the cold scale (as well as highest overall).

Lesssons Learned

You’ll see what you want to see. You’ll validate what you want to validate.
  1. You’ll see what you want to see: I’m a little sheepish to reveal that the “heavenly” review on Foursquare was sandwiched by multiple bad reviews – specifically regarding lobster rolls. How could I have missed them until now?! Because my belly didn’t want to see them. Try to get an opposing opinion before validating what you want to believe.
  2. An expanded vocabulary doesn’t mean better reviews: I thought I could trust someone who would pull out the word “heavenly” – almost sounded like a food critic. Wrong!Foursquare and Yelp are only as good as the person writing the review.
  3. The locals are better, but they’re only as good as their own tastes: Shuttle driver Gene had good taste. Bob had an eye for the discount.

In the end, there is no easy answer. You just have to take a chance and roll with it.

On a Roll

The themes that develop during road trips are always interesting. Having lobster rolls consume our trip gave the trip a fun throughline. While my body recovers from all the butter and lobster, I’ll be dreaming of a time when I experience Neptune Oyster’s fabled roll.

Maybe one day…
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