By Estefania Lahera ‘20
I am a person that loves superlatives. Going through one of Food & Wine’s or Thrillist’s or Eater’s lists of, say, the best falafel in America and looking for a spot mentioned that’s in my city to try it out for myself is probably my favorite pastime.
Upon moving to Boston, I took it upon myself to put all those lists to the test and find the city’s best lobster roll.
Most of the lists echoed each other: Neptune’s Oyster, James Hook + Co, Yankee Lobster, Island Creek Oyster Bar, B & G Oysters etc.
But something was odd. I was looking for the best lobster roll, but on many lists there was tangential addition: a lobster sandwich, from Alive and Kicking Lobsters right here in Cambridge!
It was a bit odd and I put it off until the end of my list. After a month or so, however, I had already tried all the most obvious choices (for the record, my money’s on Island Creek Oyster Bar) so in order to absolutely exhaust every possibility, to leave no room for doubt, it was time to try this wannabe sandwich, this pseudo-lobster roll.
The more I researched, I saw that the sandwich was the subject of decent acclaim (as most restaurants I visit are, because I don’t want to waste my time on mediocrity). I also found out that it’s within walking distance of Harvard! A long walk, about half an hour, but still walking distance, and altogether rather pleasant on a day with good weather as the past couple have been.
The restaurant is small, more like a “lobster shack” than an actual restaurant, but I think that’s part of its charm. It’s not meant to be a restaurant, it’s meant to be a source of really, really fresh seafood. Inside there’s a display case of fresh seafood, a freezer of things you can take home like chowder and ice cream (random!), while picnic tables are outside. They don’t give water, not even from the tap, which makes me sad; you have to buy it. However, they do make their own sodas in house, which is cool.
You order at the counter, and they bring the food out. The price changes with the seasons, with summer being the cheapest, but when I went the roll, which included a bag of chips, was about $17. It was pricey for a sandwich, but actually cheaper than the average lobster roll.
Now onto the substance of the article: the actual food itself.
I was impressed by the quality of the chips: no preservatives, just pure potato in peanut oil and salt, nothing hiding in the ingredients list. Since the company didn’t make the chips, I don’t think reviewing them is really relevant, but suffice to say that chips are rarely bad.
The sandwich bread was generic white sandwich bread, but toasted a beautiful, light brown and actually not soggy, which pleased me. The lobster meat was plentiful, fresh, and not overwhelmed in mayo, which I appreciated. But what it lacked in mayo it made up in globs of butter, which I did not feel were necessary. I couldn’t taste the butter anyway, so there was really no point in it being there. If you like the sweet, slightly one-dimensional flavor of lobster, great. That’s a common flaw I’ve noticed in most lobster rolls, so I can’t fault this sandwich in particular, but still. Seasoning.
Compared to lobster rolls? This was definitely equivalent to many of the lobster rolls I’ve had. The toasted bread was a welcome twist on the original roll, and I found something to be appreciated about a higher lobster to carb ratio. Rarely do rolls have a nice crust, and there is a higher probability that they will be stale.
Given this overall pleasant experience, it begs the question: why aren’t lobster sandwiches a thing? Why only lobster rolls?
But as long as Alive and Kicking stays in operations I guess it doesn’t matter. One good lobster sandwich in this city is enough for me.