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Rhode Island’s Best Lobster Rolls 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Hard to believe the exalted lobster was once considered trash food, fed to prisoners and slaves throughout Colonial New England. Thankfully we came to our senses, and now the lobster roll may be

the quintessential lobster preparation. A buttery, toasted roll. Large chunks of fresh lobster meat. Minimal dressing. Maybe a piece of local lettuce. That's it. It seems deceptively easy but in the wrong hands it can scar you for the summer. We set out to find 5 versions that will leave you longing for more. Summer AND lobster rolls, that is...

Cook and Brown Public House, Providence

When word began to spread that Chef Nemo Bolin was going to begin serving lobster rolls at brunch and on a cart around Providence, we were suitably excited. Hell, any excuse to enjoy Cook and Brown we figured was a good thing. Right? Delicious, seasonally-appropriate ingredients become tasty treats in the able hands at Cook and Brown. They call the mobile cart Salt Cove Lobster and set up around town serving fresh rolls on the go. We stopped by one day and were blown away by the lobster rolls. These things had us talking to friends all week. We were like cult members. Fresh, tender, lobster. A light, lemony mayo dressing. The bun. It was all perfection. We loved the crunch from the sliced scallions. Go for brunch or find the cart. Order two. Send us the bill if you're disappointed (we won't reimburse you, but we're that certain you'll love them!). 959 Hope St. 273-7275, www.cookandbrown.com

The Crow's Nest, Warwick

This is one of those typically hidden Rhode Island institutions that you grandfather would describe. Set back in Apponaug Cove, it is worth the search. But remember, when you find it, don't tell anyone else! This spot has been at least a chowder house since the 1960's, and since 1992 the same husband and wife team has been manning the helm at the Nest. It is classic clam shack fare without the sand -- hey nice, clean dining room makes us feel happier than a sandy picnic table sometimes. The food, however, is on par with the clam shacks you love. The lobster salad roll was excellent. The lobster fresh. The bun warm and toasty. And the dressing gave it enough moisture without overpowering the lobster. 288 Arnold's Neck Dr. 732-6575, www.crowsnestri.com

The Lobster Bar at Aquidneck Lobster, Newport

Sometimes in life you over-think things. You hem and haw. You make and re-make your decision. This is not one of those times. Where better to get a lobster roll than in the place where local food lovers and chefs get their lobster? Right. No brainer. We headed in and were pleasantly surprised to find a clean, comfortable and scenic spot to enjoy a lobster roll. The Lobster Bar was a beautiful location --we were seated on the water with a wonderful view and ordered one of each lobster roll: the colds and the hot. The cold was a very good version of the old-school classic, but the hot was a revelation. Poached in butter with minimal herbs for flavor, it won us over. We would have no qualms returning and ordering two of the hot rolls, they were that good. 31 Bowen's Wharf, 846-0106, www.aquidnecklobsterbar.com

The Cove, Charlestown

Located in the barren restaurant landscape between Narragansett and Westerly, the Cove has become a family favorite for a reliable meal after a long day at the beach. We have been enjoying our time on the beach with the nieces and nephews this summer and when we return from the sand, few of us feel like shopping and grilling. Especially considering the Cove cranks out great fried and broiled seafood; steaks and chicken; and just about everything in between. The lobster roll here is consistently appealing -- simple, served on a hot dog roll, packed high and alongside fries. And that's a good thing. The flavor is accented by a touch of dill that helps without overpowering the lobster. Well balanced. Grab one with a Smithwick's and sooth that sunburned body--and soul! 3963 Old Post Rd. 364-9222, www.thecoveri.com

Quito's, Bristol

When we met, the boy was a staunch West Bay advocate and the girl loved the East Bay. One of the first East Bay things that brought us together was Quito's. Clam cakes and chowder by the Bay was a fun date night. She introduced the boy to the fried scallops and the fish and chips. You couldn't deny the quality and flavor. He had grown up in the "Clam Shack Zone" in South Kingston and was a snob. Even he had to say that the lobster roll was one of the best he had tasted. Quito's offers up both a warm and a cold version. On this stop, the cold version was highly superior. The warm was a touch rubbery but the cold was a tour de deliciousness. The dill was a nice touch (we'd use a pinch less); the roll was one of the better ones we had; the lobster was cooked perfectly. The view? Worth a million bucks. 411 Thames St. 253-4500, www.quitosrestaurant.com


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