Eat All the Lobster (and Donuts)
August 5, 2016 § 2 Comments
This is the story of how I ate so many lobster rolls that I ended up getting sick of lobster.
We started with some raw oysters (for J) and clams (for me) before digging into their renowned brown butter lobster roll, which was definitely unconventional. Instead of being served on regular bread, the bun was basically a mantou — fluffy, chewy and white. It was also very messy because the lobster chunks were piled on top instead of sitting inside the bun. The lobster roll was tasty, but I didn’t really get much of the brown butter flavor. (Looking at pictures from other people, it seems that perhaps we didn’t get the brown butter dressing at all???)
I was more impressed by the pickled mackerel we ordered from the daily specials. It was beautifully plated and perfectly succulent, topped with crispy rice crackers:
And of course we had to finish off with a whoopee pie, Maine’s official state treat. I wasn’t expecting much, honestly, as the closest thing I’ve had is a Hostess cupcake, but obviously this was better by leaps and bounds. Just look at that cross-section! It was light and chocolatey and delicious.
For dinner that evening, we decided on 3Buoys Seafood Shanty & Grill, undeniably one of the highest rated lobster roll places in town. It was 0.8 miles from our hotel, so we figured we could just walk there. Now, downtown Portland is very cute, with boutique-lined streets, bustling restaurants and cobblestone sidewalks:
But as soon as we turned the corner to 3Buoys, we realized we were definitely in a different part of town. The word “Shanty” in the restaurant name is pretty accurate — 3Buoys was a run-down little building on a pretty sketchy-looking corner. (Despite our reservations, J said it was probably better we walked instead of driving because he didn’t want his car to get jacked, haha.)
I’m not strictly opposed to crappy-looking restaurants: If it’s a hole-in-the-wall Asian place, like Prosperity Dumpling, chances are it’s legit. But white people food? I don’t know. Still, we were already there, and I wanted to see what all the hype on Yelp was about, so in we went.
It was early on a Thursday evening and the place was empty. The waitress seated us on their back patio, which was cute in a ramshackle way and decorated with fishing paraphernalia. They didn’t even serve tap water, so we had to order two bottles of water. That was a first.
We started with a lobster bisque, which was basically chunks of seafood in butter soup. I did not partake, but J enjoyed the seafood bits.
Then the main event: the lobster roll. It was an impressive amount of lobster just doused in mayo — normally I detest mayo, but somehow it actually tasted perfectly balanced and extremely delicious. From what I recall, J got greedy and ordered another roll for us to share after we finished our respective ones. These were probably the best lobster rolls we had on our trip. Thanks, 3Buoys.
As if we hadn’t already had enough to eat, we stopped by Gelato Fiasco on the way back.
I was so full I could barely enjoy my gelato, but I do want to say that the fresh cream flavor was a standout — lightly sweet and creamy, which is how I always imagined the milk tasting in the Aristocats. (I grew up drinking skim milk, which my mom would heat up in the microwave, so I could only fantasize about milk that actually tasted good.)
The next morning while wandering around after J’s daily latte, we came across the Holy Donut and were intrigued by the sign outside saying its donuts were made from potatoes.
Now, since graduating from scarfing Krispy Kreme donuts as a perpetually hungry teenager, I’ve realized that I don’t actually like donuts. At all. Something about the fried consistency and saccharine flavors just don’t do it for me. (I don’t like funnel cake either.) But Yelp reviewers described these as “dense” and “moist” — ie. my two favorite adjectives for cake — so we decided to try them.
OH MY GOD.
THESE DONUTS WERE SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!
They were indeed denser and heartier than the typical donut, with a much more satisfying chew. They had tons of flavors, some of which were sweeter than others; my favorite was maple, but blueberry (speckled with actual Maine blueberries) was also fantastic. The donuts were also super fresh: Closing time is whenever they sell out for the day.
From the Holy Donut website: “The (not-so) secret ingredient: fresh Maine potatoes. Adding mashed potatoes gives the donuts a delicious moist texture that makes them just melt in your mouth. … We include the highest quality dark cocoa powder and 60% dark chocolate chips in all chocolate donuts and glazes, and color our glazes with only fruit juices or vegetable dyes, no fake colors.”
We actually went back our last morning to get more donuts. They’re probably worth driving back up to Portland just to eat some more. I don’t miss eating lobsters in Maine — I got more than enough — I just want potato donuts!!!
Anyway, after our life-changing encounter at Holy Donut, we hopped in the car to drive north to Rockland, where I had made dinner reservations for my birthday. On the way, we stopped in the town of Wiscasset for more lobster rolls. The most popular place in town is Red’s Eats, but for some reason I had bookmarked Sprague’s, located across the street; we ate at the latter because the line at Red’s was too off-putting, and Sprague’s had lovely picnic benches on the dock.
Sprague’s was a cute little operation; in the middle picture above, you can see the clothing line they used to communicate orders to the second kitchen. The cashier literally wrote it on a piece of paper, attached it to the line and strung it across the way.
I ordered “steamers” (with a cob of corn), which I thought were simply steamed clams, but they were completely fresh and uncleaned, with the foot still attached. My meal came with a little cup of salt water to rinse the sand and dirt from my clams before eating. How fun! J also ended up ordering an extra lobster roll for us because I wanted to eat some of his and he didn’t want to share LOL.
The rolls at Sprague’s were quite fresh and tasty — and it was so lovely to eat with a view of the water — but couldn’t compare to the bomb of deliciousness we had had at 3Buoys. After this, I was officially done with lobster for the rest of the trip (and probably the rest of the year). J, however, is a beast and has continued to crave and consume lobster in the months since we’ve been back. None for me!
On a related note: Wiscasset bills itself as “the Prettiest Village in Maine.” We…were unimpressed, pretty much for the reasons outlined in the linked blog post. Most small towns, like Portland and Rockland, have a designated main street for shops and pedestrians, and the highway is somewhere on the border of the town. In Wiscasset, however, the main street IS the highway, which results in constant heavy traffic right through the middle of town. The setup is far from idyllic. Still, it was a nice place to stop for lunch. Onward!