Photographs: Julie Bidwell
Above: Whole steamed lobster with potatoes, corn, mussels and a roll
If you’re looking for a restaurant with frills, Boothbay Lobster Company is not it. But if it’s authentic Maine lob-stah you’re after, then avoid hours of interstate traffic and instead head on down to Stamford Harbor. You’ll be hooked in no time.
The place is austere, with butcher-block tables and metal chairs, a polished concrete floor, a huge full-service bar, a small raised dining platform in the back, and a bar top that runs along the front so you can people-watch as you enjoy your meal. Adding to the traditional lobster house feel—a nice touch since this restaurant sits in a high-scale, trendy neighborhood instead of a rustic New England wharf—is a big screen with ocean and coastal scenes. There are outside tables for that time of year when the weather cooperates.
A few more things to know before you go: The location is self-order, so as soon as you walk in, turn right to place your order at the high counter. You are then given a table stand with a number. Place it on your table and a server will bring your food.
The menu is small and simple, exactly what you might expect, delivering on the “wicked fresh Maine seafood” the restaurant’s motto promises. And it is fresh, sourced from small day boats with one or two fishermen that call the rocky waters of Maine’s Boothbay region home. It arrives the next day in Stamford.
Let’s proceed with the main reason we were there: lobster, lobster and more lobster.
One thing is for sure, they sure know how to cook it. No matter the way we ate it that night, it was so sweet, perfectly cooked and not at all rubbery, a common complaint about this seafood. If you really want to experience what lobster should be, Boothbay will make that happen.
Presentation of all foods is as spartan as the décor, with each item arriving on an individual rimmed baking sheet. But it all works, especially with a whole lobster, which is served naked so it’s up to you to crack the claws, knuckles and tail to uncover the meat. (The staff is happy to help if you’re a novice.) And right next to the lobster is all the butter you need to make this meal complete. We call it a bargain at $19.95. For $9.50 more, you can add potatoes, corn, mussels and a roll to your order.
And then there are the lobster rolls for those who want immediate gratification. They come three ways: Maine-style, tossed with lemon-pepper mayo and served cold; Spicy, tossed in a homemade sriracha mayo and served cold; and CT- style, drizzled with hot butter and served warm. All are encased in a griddled potato roll and filled with a heaping serving of lobster tail, knuckle and claw meat. We tried all three, and our only complaint was there was not much difference in heat between the Maine and Spicy versions. Our advice is to kick the sriracha up a few notches.
If you’re craving comfort with decadence, order the Bacon Lobster Grilled Cheese. This is a serious take on the cheesy standard, starting with the crusty grilled bread that flanks thick slices of bacon, chunks of fresh lobster meat and melted cheese. Amazing. There is a third sandwich—steak—just in case there is a non-seafood lover in your crowd.
The day we visited, there was no clam chowder, a real letdown. So we ordered the Gulf of Maine Seafood Stew (see food feature, pg. 90) and were happy we did. The lobster broth is rich and buttery, and the dish is amazingly filling. What we most appreciated is that this version is chockful of lobster, mussels and fresh fish. No need to go hunting for the seafood in this concoction.
Our side of beet-quinoa salad was delicious, and we were happy to see you could upgrade it to a salad topped with lobster, crab or steak. It came with a sesame ginger dressing that could have used a tad more ginger. Our only disappointment was the Potato Tots, in part because we could also taste the oil they were fried in, which is always a turn-off.
Would we return? Absolutely. The price points are excellent and the lobster is perfect, which should also be your reason to check out this place.
Bonus news: If you want lobster at your next party, they have a food truck that can deliver it to you. It’s all outlined on the website.
BOOTHBAY LOBSTER COMPANY
14 Harbor Point Rd.
Mon.–Wed. 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
Thu.–Sat. 11 a.m.–11 p.m.
Sun. 11 a.m.–10 p.m.