Everyone in the Pool

Posted: August 31st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Rockport, Seafood, The Lobster Pool | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Please don’t ask us why we didn’t visit the The Lobster Pool in Rockport before now—we have absolutely no excuse. Having lived on the North Shore for so many years, we’re kicking ourselves for having neglected this gem. We had a magical evening there last weekend, and we plan to return soon.

There was a real party atmosphere when we arrived, with people eagerly queuing up to order and many guests already enjoying their food and the sunset over the water at the picnic tables just outside. The menu is large, with favorites like fried clams and scallops next to lobster rolls and swordfish specials. We found everything reasonably priced, fresh, well made, and delicious.

The fisherman’s platter is enormous—enough to feed three people. We went with the mini version ($19), which was more than enough for one. The seafood had a light, slightly sweet batter and tasted fresh. The haddock got the same treatment and was flaky and delicious ($15). The lobster roll was full of meat, not too heavily dressed, and the roll was properly grilled ($17 with fries). The fish cake dinner was a great deal at $8: two large cakes very crisp outside and tender inside, a generous serving of beans that weren’t overly sweet, and freshly made cole slaw. The thin, crisp onion rings (you must get these, $7) and the blueberry pie ($4) disappeared quickly as well.

As though the food and the incredible view weren’t enough, The Lobster Pool is BYOB with no corkage fee, so you can drink just what you want at liquor-store prices. There’s an interesting outside raw bar that’s worth visiting, complete with lobster tails ($8 each and cooked to perfection). To further gild the lily, on weekends, there is a campfire and free s’mores. You cook your own marshmallow over an ingenious pipe sticking out of the fire (no engulfing your treat in flames, no worries about burns) and place it right onto a waiting chocolate/graham cracker sandwich.

One thing to keep in mind, especially on a weekend night, is that the restaurant’s kitchen is fairly small, everything is cooked to order, and demand is high. With waits up to 45 minutes for food, it’s best not to arrive starving. You could also call ahead for a take-out order to transport to the outside tables. Also keep in mind that the restaurant is not in downtown Rockport; you’ll need a car to reach its Folly Cove location, about halfway between Rockport and Lanesville.

The Lobster Pool
329 Granite St, Rockport
(978) 546-7808
www.lobsterpoolrestaurant.com

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More Than Just Lobsters on Marblehead’s Little Harbor

Posted: January 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Marblehead, Marblehead Lobster Company, Seafood | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

We’ve been taking some time off over the holidays, so you haven’t heard much from us here at the Dish. The new year is upon us and we are back in action, hoping everyone enjoyed their holidays, vacations, families, and friends. We certainly did!

Due to a crazy few weeks, we decided to stay in on New Year’s Eve to relax and re-charge. While we love all the deals and hoopla offered by area venues, home-cooked food, cheap booze, and sleep are also things we’re quite fond of.

To usher in 2011, we decided to throw a couple of lobsters in the pot, and we clearly weren’t the only ones with that idea. Things were hopping when we arrived at Marblehead Lobster Co. A small, family-owned place that’s been around for years, Marblehead Lobster sits right on Little Harbor, affording terrific views as you park. (If you’re not familiar with the area, be careful not to overshoot it. The drive is at the curve in the road where Orne Street leads into Beacon Street, and it’s easy to miss that right turn.)

In fact, you can see the view here in a video by Katy Elliott, who must have arrived there minutes after we left. Sorry we missed her!

We picked up a couple of healthy looking medium-sized crustaceans at $8 per pound (chickens were $6/lb and selects $10/lb), and instead of heading out the door, lingered to ogle the other food stuffs available in the tiny shop. We had no idea they offered prepared foods, and on special that day were lobster quiche and a lobster bisque that was described as being “a lighter version, but still containing all of the good stuff.” The gentleman in front of us in line had called to order a couple of baked stuffed lobsters. The 1½ lb lobsters were stuffed and ready to be heated, a bargain at $10 each.

Of course, we ended up leaving with more than we came in for. The man of the house opted for some gorgeous Wellfleet oysters (.95 ea.), which they kindly shucked for a mere additional dollar and offered to us in a tray full of ice. When asked about the plastic container, we were told, “Just bring it back when you’re done.”

We also brought home some seafood-stuffed mushrooms to pop in the oven. Nine white mushroom caps generously topped with a stuffing containing crab, shrimp, and scallops as well as plenty of buttery crumbs were a deal for just under $5. And man, were they tasty–we plan to serve them the next time we have dinner guests.

Although we’ve been buying lobsters at this spot for years, we’d never really taken the time to see what else was available or to chat with the staff. Having discovered their tasty non-lobster offerings and been reminded of the great service, we’ll make it a point to return to Marblehead Lobster more often.

Marblehead Lobster Co.
Beacon & Orne Streets, Marblehead
(781) 631-0787

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Salem’s Lobster Shanty Is More Than Meets the Eye

Posted: May 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Casual/Pub Food, Lobster Shanty, Salem, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

shanty21

After running some early evening errands in Salem on Friday, we passed the Lobster Shanty and decided to stop for a bite. A local dive bar lauded by Yelp-ers as the best place around to get drunk with your dog, the Shanty advertises “warm beer, lousy food, surly waitresses, rude bartenders and cranky cooks.” How could we not investigate?

The place is one of the tiny buildings in Artist’s Row, so the actual bar is relatively small, but what draws locals on summer nights is the good-sized patio area with free live music on weekends. We opted to sit outside and perused the very reasonable drinks menu, choosing a Belfast Bay Lobster Ale ($4.25) and a specialty cocktail, The Perfect Storm ($7.50), that turned out to be a tasty rum punch with a nice kick.

Along with the requisite boiled lobster and fried seafood offerings, the menu provides a wide range of choices, including grilled pizzas ($7-$9), gourmet burgers ($7-$10), and entrees ($13-$20) We got a chance to chat with executive chef Diane Wolf, who co-owns the Shanty with her husband, Lee. When they bought the place two years ago from the previous owner, she told us the menu was very limited, and she couldn’t resist having a little fun with it.

So while it boasts about limp salads and the tepid sodas, The Shanty’s menu actually reflects creativity and quality not found in your standard pub food; a burger dredged in sesame seeds and cracked black pepper and topped with gorgonzola, grass-fed Guinness-soaked steak tips, and side dishes like wilted spinach and bacon and grilled seasonal veggies. All of the seafood is bought from local fishermen, and Wolf said they make their own mozzarella.

We ordered the calamari ($10) to start, the lobster roll ($17) with a side of the spinach and bacon, and a fishwich ($7) with sweet potato fries and an extra side of pickled beets. The teenaged member of our party ordered the chicken tenders and fries basket.

The calamari was terrific, lightly breaded and very tender. Our only disappointment was that it wasn’t a larger portion—we inhaled it in short order. The chicken basket was pub standard, but the fries were salted with what looked like sea salt, a nice touch.

fishfriesThe lobster roll was what a lobster roll should be: chock full of meat, not overly dressed or seasoned, served on a toasted hot dog bun (we’re sticklers on that point). The piece of fish in the sandwich was good-sized, lightly breaded, and crisp. Our server, a smiling young man who answered to the name of Betty (!?), forgot the tartar sauce but was highly apologetic about it. The spinach and bacon was lovely, and the sweet potato fries were divine. Delicious and crispy with large flakes of salt, we would return on their merit alone.

In truth, there are many reasons to return to The Shanty. Yes, it’s a small unassuming place with some surly looking characters haunting the kitchen, but we found the staff genial, the food tasty, and the prices excellent. (Wolf told us that with an eye to the current economy, they’re staying with last year’s prices). With outdoor seating, music on weekends, inexpensive drinks and snacks as well as the more gourmet options, we’re thinking it’s a great place to chill on a summer night. Whether or not you bring your dog is up to you.

The Lobster Shanty
25 Front St. (At Artist’s Row) Salem
(978) 754-5449
http://lobstershantysalem.com

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Got Lobster?

Posted: March 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Marblehead, Paul Crowell Lobsters, Seafood | Tags: , , | 4 Comments »

Marblehead lobsterman Paul Crowell is probably not familiar with the word locavore or the buzz surrounding the concept—but he is certain to delight those in search of local seafood at a bargain price.

Born in Marblehead, Crowell started working his traps 49 years ago, and not too long after began selling his catch at Fort Beach. An affable, easygoing guy with striking blue eyes and a ready smile, he has become a well-known local fixture.

Recently, he moved his storefront, which consists of his pickup truck, a cooler, and a scale, to the parking lot of the Marblehead Boat Yard at 89 Front St., just behind the Landing Restaurant. Crowell said the move affords an increase in foot traffic and better visibility for cars driving by.

Crowell’s business is cash only, but it’s well worth the stop at an ATM before heading down to Front Street. Prices change with the market, but he sells his lobsters for a dollar or two per pound over what he would net selling them to wholesale distributors.

This weekend, he was selling chicken lobsters (a pound or under) for $5.99/lb and selects for $6.50/lb. A few miles away, Super Stop and Shop in Vinnin Square was selling chickens for $10.99 a pound and selects for $12.99/lb! You can’t ignore savings like that, and the freshness is guaranteed.

In the winter, Crowell takes his boat out two to three times a week, weather permitting, and in the summer he’s on the water every day. When we visited him, the lobsters he was selling had been caught that morning, and having sampled his wares, we can attest to the incredible difference that makes in the taste.

Crowell is only open for business Saturdays and Sundays from 2:00-4:00 pm. Sure, finding parking on Front Street during a weekend afternoon may be difficult, but having to walk a few blocks gives you an excuse to enjoy Marblehead’s historic waterfront or pop into the shops on Washington Street. Whether you’re a dedicated locavore or simply a lobster lover, for off-the-boat freshness at a bargain price, Paul Crowell’s operation can’t be beat.

Paul Crowell
89 Front St, Marblehead
Sat & Sun 2:00-4:00

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