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Seven Hills

Boston-area exploration, travel notes, crafty things, and other Somervillainy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lobster Roll Diaries: One to Go

Even though beach season is over, I still frequently get hit by a lobster roll craving. Most of the places I know to get them in the city are sit-down restaurants though, which is fine if you're looking to Go Out to Lunch, but doesn't help when you want a quick bite. Plus, lobster rolls cost enough from the seafood shack - I'd rather not pay double for linen napkins and table service.

The other afternoon I was walking a visiting friend over to South Station to catch her bus back to New York when she voiced a sentiment I've heard from other out-of-town friends (mostly ones who've been brainwashed by the lobster-obsessed lunacy of this blog): "I wanted to try a lobster roll while I was here - is there anyplace nearby where I could get one?"

I was doubtful. You can get them at the Boston Chowda Co. chain, which is frequently found in Boston food courts, but there isn't one at South Station, and anyway, I find their lobster salad a little bland and watery. I know there are also a bunch of places on the piers by the harbor, not far from where we were, but I wasn't quite sure how to get over there, and with minutes to spare before my friend's bus left even that might be too far.

So just as I'd told her I couldn't think of anything close enough, we walked past James Hook & Co. Lobsters. I'd passed this place many times before and looked at it longingly, but I assumed it was only in the wholesale business. This time though, I noticed a discreet "Retail" sign with an arrow pointing around the corner. The storefront window looked dim, deserted, and hardly open for business, but having a friend in tow (and one with a serious lobster jones) gave me courage, so up we marched to check it out.

I've since done a little research so I realize this is hardly the discovery of the century - plenty of others have commented on the quality and value of this Boston standby. But hey, I didn't know, so maybe others don't, either. You can get a great, basic, $10 (as of November '06) lobster roll with plenty of fresh meat, as well as live lobsters, cooked ones, shelled meat by the pound and helpfully sorted by type (knuckle, tail, etc.), plus a bunch of other fish and shellfish. Looming behind the counter is the big, dim warehouse area, sloshing with tanks full of scrambling crustaceans. But even though we were clearly walking into a working seafood distribution plant, the man who helped us was as pleasant and helpful as could be. The retail counter didn't feel like an afterthought or an intrusion.

The next time I need a brown-bag lunch for the long bus ride down to New York, I know where I'm stopping first.



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