The Perfect Lobster Roll

I’ve put myself on a personal Management By Objective (MBO) plan this summer, with my top goal to find the perfect lobster roll on Cape Cod. It is a daunting task, one I am sure many think cannot be achieved. But I am committed to this goal regardless of the costs to myself, my family and of course my bank account. But as the Greek philosopher Socrates once asked: what really is the perfect lobster roll?

While there are many hotly contested topics in the lobster roll eating community, there is none more so than the age old question of mayonnaise or butter. There are families whose members have stopped talking over this question. In the lobster eating business, we like to call this the Maine versus Connecticut question.

The Maine lobster roll is served cold, with the lobster meat tossed in mayonnaise and heaped on a toasted Frankfurter roll. There are many minor variations on this recipe - for example, some lay a slice of crispy Boston lettuce on the bun, or toss the lobster in chopped celery or tarragon. But the central tenets of a Maine lobster roll are always the same: lobster, mayonnaise, and a flat sided toasted bun.

The Connecticut lobster roll on the other hand is based on two dramatically different principles: (1) serve it warm, and (2) douse it in warm butter. It is common in fact for a Connecticut lobster roll to be served with a side of butter that you pour on the top immediately before eating. There are many things that confuse me about the state of Connecticut. For example, why is it called the Nutmeg State? Where are your professional sports teams? And why does everyone in the state seem to live in Fairfield County? But their lobster roll philosophy does not confuse me at all. Lobster and butter is the chocolate and peanut butter of the seafood world.

While I am an omnivorous lobster roll eater - happily eating both Maine and Connecticut lobster rolls - I do have a slight preference toward a lobster roll with mayonnaise. There are many things that I really don’t like about Maine - e.g. the water temperature, the governor, the winter, the spring, the summer, sometimes the fall - but they got it right with their lobster roll. To be fully honest, there are not many styles or recipes of lobster roll I would not eat. Okay, if West Virginia was a style of lobster roll, I might take a pass. But only maybe.

Finding the perfect lobster roll requires focus, commitment, planning and networking. For example, last week while waiting at my local barbershop, I ran into a local talking about his lobster roll lunch plans at the Friendly Fisherman. This combined seafood store and restaurant is located in Eastham on Route 6, just past the Dunkin Donuts. For those of you readers from outside this region, New Englanders give all directions relative to the nearest Dunkin. Yes Dunkin effectively provides the latitutude and longitude for New England. For example, my house is 2.5 miles northeast of the Orleans Dunkin.  

While my new barbershop friend had never been to the Friendly Fisherman, he heard they had a really good lobster roll. He had no way of knowing though that a "really good" lobster roll meant nothing to me. My MBO requires I find the perfect lobster roll. So that afternoon, I stopped by the restauant with Kristin and the boys to see if they had the right stuff. I found the Friendly Fisherman's lobster roll to be served Maine style, lightly tossed in mayonnaise, with big and cold chunks of mostly claw meat on a flat toasted bun. The good news is: it was excellent, and served with thick crispy golden fries. The bad news is: I couldn't say for sure they had the perfect lobster roll. But then again, I couldn't be certain they didn't.

I guess there is only one way to know for sure: I’ll have to come back next week to try again.