100 Favorite Dishes 2013: No. 83, Lobster Roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches

There's a reason Maine-ly Sandwiches' lobster roll gets so much press. It's amazing.
There's a reason Maine-ly Sandwiches' lobster roll gets so much press. It's amazing.
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg

This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of her personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston food-scape. It's a list to drool over.

There's been a lot of hype surrounding Maine-ly Sandwiches lately, thanks to the opening of a second location inside the Loop (and just a short walk away from my front door). Recently, we published a post about what to eat at the New England-inspired sandwich shop besides the lobster roll. And while the notion of branching out -- expanding your horizons -- is a great one, I ask you, why? Why would you even want to eat anything other than the lobster roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches?

In case you need more convincing, please turn your attention to the photo at the top of this post. That soft, buttery roll brimming with sweet, succulent claw meat arrived at my table warm on the outside from the lightly toasted bread and cool and refreshing on the inside thanks to the fresh chilled lobster tossed in a delicate lemon-mayo sauce. And it took only three minutes from the time it was ordered until I was happily stuffing my face with it. That's one heck of a fast-food sandwich!

Having never been to Maine myself, I can't tell you whether the lobster rolls at Maine-ly Sandwiches are indeed authentic. I do know that all of the lobsters they serve come from Maine, and I have heard from many that they're just as good, if not better, than the ones you might wait in line for hours for in the Pine Tree State. But I don't really care if they're authentic.

In other words, if these lobster rolls are wrong, I don't want to be right.

It's important for a lobster roll to be made with the proper bread. It should be soft enough to cradle the lobster but substantial enough to hold a generous helping meat. The rolls at Maine-ly are lightly buttered and toasted, giving just a touch of crispiness and a bit of that rich, buttery flavor that goes so well with the king of crustaceans.

The lobster itself is carefully picked out of the claw (absolutely no shells fragments here), chopped into small pieces, and tossed with a simple mixture of mayonnaise, lemon juice, black pepper and salt. It's the right amount of dressing to hold the chunks of lobster together, but not so much that any other flavor overwhelms the delicate brininess of the meat.

And yes, I'm sure the whoopie pies at Maine-ly are good, and a BLT with an insane amount of bacon sounds pretty magical, but I'm all about the simplicity of the lobster roll. A buttery bun overflowing with sweet pink lobster meat -- $9.50 for a 6-incher and $18 for the footlong version -- is just about the height of sandwich perfection in my book.

The list so far: No. 100: Bangkok Fries at Boheme No. 99: Almond Croissant at Phoenicia No. 98: Bulgogi Tacos with Kimchi at Chi'Lantro No. 97: Soft Pretzel from Mongoose Versus Cobra No. 96: Chicken and Waffles at Adair Kitchen No. 95: Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Brooklyn Athletic Club No. 94: Foie Gras Mac & Cheese at BRC Gastropub No. 93: Vuelve a la Vida Soup at Connie's Seafood No. 92: Homeroom at Bernie's Burger Bus No. 91: Lobster Cake Benedict at Sorrel Urban Bistro No. 90: Uncle Daryl's Cake at The Chocolate Bar No. 89: Porchetta e Fagioli at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 88: Sesame Soft Balls at Golden Dim Sum No. 87: Crab Daddy Bao at Fat Bao No. 86: Ham, Egg & Cheese Crepe at Melange Creperie No. 85: Pork Tamales at Irma's No. 84: Greek Burger at Hubcap Grill

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