I occasionally tell people that the first thing I learned to like about New England was the hot lobster roll. This usually gets a chuckle or two. I'm not saying it to be funny, however. I'm deadly serious when it comes to the local delicacy.
I'm a seafood fan in general; a shellfish fan in particular. I love shrimp, clams, scallops, and lobster. I do NOT love mussels, but this has more to do with working 3+ years of Earle happy hours (cheap-ass grad students, ugh) than it does with the food itself.
I think seafood in almost any form is delicious: raw, grilled, sauteed...yet there is something exceptionally glorious about fried seafood, preferably bought from a sea side stand. Needless to say, there weren't many sea side clam shacks in Michigan, but I had NO trouble finding any when we moved to Connecticut.
We knew about a few places in Mystic (we had seen them when we came here for house-hunting trips) and we live down the street from Fred's Shanty, which served my fried clam craving well for a few months. Noe had eaten at Abbott's in Noank, which is supposed to be pretty famous. But our mutual favorite, hands down, is Captain Scott's.
We never knew Captain Scott's Lobster Dock existed, and we may never have found it if not for Amanda and Kevin. They took us there for lunch one late spring day last year, and we've been addicted to it ever since.
Captain Scott's is located between the downtown and residential sections of New London, by Crocker's Boat Yard. To get there, you turn down a weird little side street near the boatyard and an office park and drive straight toward what appears to be a dead end. At the last second (before you drive over the railroad tracks), you hang a left, and all of a sudden you're on an idyllic little inlet, looking at the boats, the train, and the buildings of New London, all from strange new angles.
The usual gamut of fried deliciousness is available - clam strips and whole belly clams, scallops, fish and chips, fish sandwiches, and fritters. However, Captain Scott's also specializes in fresh lobster, offering full dinners with corn and potatoes as well as that New England legend, the hot lobster roll. Naturally, I had to order one.
A hot lobster roll is, quite simply, hot lobster meat drizzled with butter and stuffed into a hot dog roll.
Why do I call it a hot dog roll and not a hot dog bun, you ask? It turns out that in New England you have two options when it comes to hot dog receptacles. There is the bun, which us midwesterners are familiar with: open on one side. The hot dog roll (right; photo from dreamstime.com) is split open on the top. It toasts up much better than a bun and is better for holding in lobster meat (it would all just spill out the sides of a bun).
Lobster, butter and bread may not sound like the most exciting combination, but it is heavenly. Captain Scott's really piles the meat on - giant chunks of tail and claw spilling out of the roll. The lobster is extremely fresh and has that ever-so-slight briny sweetness. Anything but butter would be overwhelming to the delicate flavor, but the hot, melted butter just enhances it perfectly.
Trust me, this thing is heaven on a roll. I have never tasted any sandwich as delicious as a fresh hot lobster roll.
Captain Scott's fried food is great, too - they have the nice, thick batter on their fish and chips, and everything is appropriately crispy. Their lobster dinners are really reasonably priced, usually coming in around $20.00. They are open seasonally (all seating is outdoors) and are BYOB (I recommend picking up some a nice, minerally white wine and chilling out at a picnic table on a sunny afternoon). They also have a fresh seafood market, from which I have purchased high-quality, fresh-caught scallops that have made a delicious meal.
It may take a little work to find, but Captain Scott's is worth the effort if you like simple but high-quality seafood. And if you, like me, have never experienced a lobster roll, please try one. This sandwich changed my mind entirely about east coast living - no exaggeration.
Happy New Year!
2 years ago