There’s a lot of serious stuff going on. With COVID-19 vaccinations in full gear, hopefully a brighter summer season is just on the horizon. There are still risks but everyone is a year wiser, so I believe it’s time to be cheerfully optimistic, and that is why this column is about lobster rolls.
Starting next week when the Clam Bar on Napeague opens up and folks will be enjoying sampling 2021 lobster rolls. For many years I have had my first lobster roll there on my way to see the Friends of Erin St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Montauk. However, last year there was no parade and sadly this year’s is canceled too. I still went to the Clam Bar the first week they were open, but things were very different. My first lobster roll purchase last year there was almost like ordering something clandestine! I had to download an app onto my phone, then fill out an order and put my credit card info into the app. Next, I had to wait for a phone call confirming my order. It was explained I could not pay cash and the lobster roll was to be delivered to a drop zone in the parking lot, midway between me in my car and the Clam Bar. Thank god by the end of last summer waitress service to the tables, along with cash payments was back, all safe with some social distancing.
There is a thrill to biting into that first lobster roll of the new season. Last year eating my lobster roll in the car in the Clam Bar parking lot did not diminish that first bite and taste of their warm roll and the chilled lobster with just the right amount of mayonnaise, celery and the other fixings that makes it all so tasty.
For those who prefer their lobster roll with warm, buttery lobster, Lunch/Lobster Roll – almost directly across Highway 27 – offers it that way as well as chilled. They are opening soon too! There is always a debate about which is actually the pure lobster roll. My rule is this: If it’s really cold a warm one with butter, but if it’s really hot, of course, the chilled one. Who can really argue with that?
Last year I shared the lobster roll experience with perhaps a dozen friends at about five different outdoor locations. I love the look on their eyes after their first bites into the lobster roll! It’s always like watching my kids decades ago tasting ice cream on a hot summer night on vacation.
In the summer I prefer eating the lobster rolls outdoors. So, the necessary outdoor dining in place most of last summer didn’t cramp my style. There is something festive about enjoying a lobster roll outdoors, as opposed to seated in an indoor restaurant with tablecloths and linen napkins. I have a summer ritual. It consists of sailing from East Hampton’s Three Mile Marina to distant locations to then tie up, have a lobster roll and sail back! All have short term free dock space to tie up and I always go on weekdays to avoid the boat traffic at the docks.
Landing at Orient by the Sea, at Orient Point, Claudio’s in Greenport, The Dock House in Sag Harbor is always joyful, but my favorite place to land that also has my favorite lobster roll in all the Hamptons is the Marie Eiffel Market, right at the Dering Harbor Town Dock on Shelter Island. Her skill with the French breads makes the warm fresh brioche she presents as the lobsters roll is amazing.
I understand saying who has the best lobster rolls on Long Island is subjective, after all we all know what we like and where we like best to go and get it. I love the places I go to because over the years I have wonderful memories of warm summer afternoons of enjoyment, laughter and overall great times with friends and family. And that, quite frankly, is what makes a life a life!