Lobster Roll Diaries: J's Oyster
I spent an afternoon in Portland, Maine, this weekend, and fans of J's Oyster will be happy to know my friend and I found time to stop there for lunch.
I was expecting your typical wharf-side seafood shack, so was surprised to find J's feels more like a divey bar, albeit an oyster bar. It was pretty crowded when we were there so we took the available table by the door, but if I went back I think I would choose to sit at the bar and order a beer and a bunch of seafood, as my friend said she'd done on her previous visit.
So what makes J's such a favorite? In addition to its singular salty-dog atmosphere, I would guess it's the portions and freshness. I ordered the lobster roll (naturally) and was very impressed with the generous helping of notably large pieces of lobster meat. The price was much lower than most Boston rolls, too, and at a place with table service! The bun was grilled (yum, even better than toasted), and mayonnaise was served on the side (not sure this is my favorite style, but I can see how some might prefer it).
I have to say I found this roll a little bland, but that could definitely be due to the season, and I was also starting to come down with a cold. I also ordered a half dozen oysters, which weren't very good, but again you couldn't beat the price, and it may have just been a bad oyster day. I would certainly give the place another chance on all counts.
Lobster iconography abounds in Portland:
After lunch we strolled around town a bit, and found it a totally cute and happening place, a small coastal city with lots of interesting shops and good restaurants. I haven't been in much of a shopping mood lately, but I still had trouble keeping my wallet closed. Portland inspired me to give it my money!
One of the places we visited was a little "modern crafts" shop a la Magpie in Somerville called Edith & Edna. I noticed the work of several familiar indie craft names among its wares, and finally tracked down the elusive "sad toast" by My Paper Crane that I've been keeping an eye out for in recent months. Here's a shot of a giant-sized sad toast (sad because it's burnt, of course!) with other, happier, friends in the store's window.