Nothing says summer more than a plump lobster roll, lightly dressed, and drizzled with creamy, tangy, buttery flavors. Just as we’re all Irish on St. Paddy’s Day, we’re all New Englanders when it comes to what qualifies as the ideal Maine dish. It doesn’t look like much: a buttered, grilled hot dog bun stuffed with a combination of claw, tail, and knuckle meat, mixed with a little mayo, dill, celery, and/or lemon. The simpler the better, ideally served warmed. And though many Westchester fans lament the closing of Port Chester’s longstanding fish shack, Ebb Tide, known for its no-frills lobster roll and classic Cape Cod atmosphere, there are plenty of other area eateries where the “Maine” course is rolling in chunks of lobster meat.
Day Boat Café (1 Bridge St, Irvington 914-231-7854), the two-month-old restaurant in the spot that formerly housed One, has all the trappings of an upscale oyster house, complete with white clapboard walls featuring photos of the ocean, a ceiling from which red oars hang in perfect rowboat harmony, and one of the best lobster rolls around. Think a huge, buttery grilled split-top roll stacked high with the bounty of red-fleshed lobster meat. At first, I had to use a fork to sift through the meat—it’s piled pretty high in what is clearly a large meat-to-bun ratio. But pick up you must. For that’s when you get the added flavor of the butter-toasted roll that mixes perfectly with the opalescent, lightly dressed meat. Crispy fries accompany the dish, but you may be too absorbed in your lobster to notice ($25).
Crabtree’s Kittle House (11 Kittle Rd, Chappaqua 914-666-8044) does everything with a level of gourmet sophistication, and its lobster roll is no exception. This one’s a titan: a huge, grilled sandwich that spills over with chunks of meat, mixed with “secret” ingredients that include avocado, mango, tomato, and baby jalapeños to give it a little kick ($16). The seasoning levels are pitch-perfect, as is the accompanying green salad mix that plays off the flavor of the roll.
Expect a traditional New England-style experience, albeit an appetizer encounter, at Conte’s Fish Market (448 E Main St, Mount Kisco; 914-666-6929), where your roll ($12) is served in a red-and-white checkered food tray. The meat says it all: fresh Maine lobster with a light-handed dose of celery, lemon juice, fresh dill, and black pepper, served with warm butter on side. It’s nothing fancy—but it’s not supposed to be; simple goodness with a wave of nostalgia.
There are many things to love about f.i.s.h. (102 Fox Island Rd, Port Chester 914-939-4227). The delicious seafood. The off-the-beaten-track location on the shores of the Byram River. The outdoor dining. The early-bird special (if you order by 6:30 pm, you’re entitled to a free bottle of wine, and yes, that includes weekends). And the lobster roll. For $21, you get hunks of flawlessly cooked claw, knuckle, and tail meat tossed with a small amount of mayo and fresh dill in a flaky croissant—not your usual mode of garnish for a lobster roll, but one that adds an interesting twist on the traditional and ups the butter taste. Another thing to love: you get a choice of fries or salad.
The jazzed-up lobster roll at The Fish Cellar (213 E Main St, Mount Kisco 914-666-4448) is made by poaching the lobster meat in white wine and butter. Served on a grilled hot dog roll, it’s compact, yet meaty, and served with remoulade, shoestring potatoes, and salad ($16). While it’s not on the menu, it is something you can request. And yes, the large lobster tank on display near the entrance means there’s more meat where that came from, which is a good thing, because this decadent sandwich is so easy to pick up and devour, you’ll want to order more than one.
Greenwich Lobster House (2 S Water St, Greenwich, CT 203-531-6400) bucks tradition by serving its lobster roll on an open-faced brioche, which means you’re treated to a mound of meat molded into a circular patty. Open wide—the bun is more hamburger than hot dog in shape—and, frankly, with this meat-to-bread ratio, not that necessary. This is lobster goodness, pure and simple, tossed with a touch of mayo, a smattering of hard-boiled egg, and the slight crunch of celery. It’s accompanied by truffle fries; you’ll find both addictive. Just use a fork so you’re able to pick up every last bite ($18).
Somehow, eating a lobster roll on the water’s edge just tastes better. The remodeled Striped Bass (236 W Main St, Tarrytown 914-366-4455), with its “South Beach meets Westchester” vibe, is all about the river view. Order the lobster roll—really a huge sandwich piled high with a combination of fresh meat and celery on a slightly toasted hamburger roll ($21.90)—paired with one of the eatery’s famous waterfront cocktails (it’s a tough call between the house-made sangria or Steve’s Bloody Mary, so good that the recipe is copyrighted) and you’ll soon be in an “island” state of mind. Crispy fries round out the plate.
Looking for something a bit more gourmet than the traditional Yankee-style dish? The Tap House (16 Depot Sq, Tuckahoe
914-337-6941) is all about mixing it up. No rolls here. Instead, expect three lobster sliders ($13)—small buns tightly packed with lobster that’s been flavored with a dash of cucumber, mango, mascarpone cheese, crème fraîche and Champagne vinegar, and garnished with frisée. Just call ahead: This is a chef’s special and not always available, though I say we all rally to get it on the regular menu.
Ocean House Oyster Bar & Grill (49 N Riverside Ave, Croton-on-Hudson 914-271-0702) is devoted to New England seafood. A casual, 19-seat restaurant with a host of blackboard specials, its lobster roll is served in the classic New England style with a split top roll that’s been lightly buttered and toasted. The best part: it’s pure meat from a one-and-a-quarter-pound lobster with only a light smattering of classic mayo (Hellmann’s, of course!), lemon juice, celery, salt, and pepper. Served with house-made coleslaw and fries ($22).
Baltimore-born Jeanne Muchnick grew up on seafood plucked from the Chesapeake Bay and says she loves lobster almost as much as she loves crab. She is a frequent contributor to Westchester Magazine; her most recent story was on the new restaurant scene in Mamaroneck. Follow her at jeannemuchnick.com.