Sunday, January 8, 2012
The Fishermen's Grill is the epitome of a New England hole-in-the-wall restaurant. I have been researching lobster rolls for years. I really like the Red Hook Maine-style lobster rolls here in the DC area but have yet to find the perfect lobby roll in Maine (where I should be able to find a great roll for breakfast, lunch, and dinner... right?)! Well, to be honest, I don't eat out a lot while I'm in Maine. My mother-in-law likes to cook and most meals are spent happily at home around the family dinner table. After Christmas, however, we made a special trip to Portland, ME, and I got the opportunity to try a famous Fishermen's Grill lobby roll.
Fisherman's Grill is the real deal - located next door to a fish market, this place has no problem getting fresh seafood. The interior is tiny and dated. Order your lunch from the counter and then sit at one of the few tables that line the wall. If you need to use the restroom, owner/manager Tom Hincks will yell from the kitchen, "it's small but it's clean, I promise". Speaking of Hincks, it's important to note that he seems to be the only person who works at Fishermen's Grill. He takes the orders, makes the food, and cleans up after you-- all with a smile on his face. That said, patience is appreciated. Hincks had a full restaurant when we were there and we waited about 20 minutes for our food to come out. While we waited for our meals, I flipped through Adam Richmond's book, America the Edible, and noticed that he had reviewed Fishermen's Grill and described the lobster rolls there as "pure ecstasy". This is when my mouth started to water.
When the food was finally delivered, we were pleasantly surprised by how delicious the clam chowder was. With more clams than anything else, the soup rivaled any I've had down here as most of them are heavier on potatoes than clams. The amount of lobster inside the lobster roll was thoroughly impressive. It was spilling out from the sides of the bun, making it difficult to eat. Speaking of the bun, it was the only place I saw room for improvement. The Red Hook rolls are really nicely grilled (like the outside of a grilled cheese sandwich) while the Fishermen's Grill roll was just lightly toasted - perhaps only to make it sturdy enough to withstand the pound of lobster inside rather than for flavor. The quality of the lobster meat was undoubtedly terrific and there was just the right amount of mayo to complement but not overwhelm the meat. Superb. The Fishermen's Grill is the frontrunner in my ongoing search for Maine's best lobster roll. Thanks, Tom.