Portland Lobster Company, right on the city’s waterfront, is a great midrange option for a lobster dinner in a killer setting. Photo by Doug Jones/Portland Press Herald

For many, it’s not a Maine summer without lobster; for some vacationers, the state crustacean is a must-have at every meal. If you’re still not quite buying the beastlike things as a culinary delicacy – back in the 1800s, lobster was considered fit only to feed state prisoners with or use as fertilizer – know that once you’ve cracked into one and developed a taste for it, it can be hard to go back to wanting anything else when within state lines.

Sure, it’s much more expensive than it was before it was considered a luxury shellfish, but it doesn’t have to be eaten in huge amounts or set you back the cost of a mortgage payment to be a memorable gastronomic experience. Here are three local lobster menu specialties that are just that for every budget.

CHEAP: BITE INTO MAINE

Lobster Grilled Cheese from Bite into Maine is a less expensive, though no less indulgent, way to enjoy the Maine culinary delicacy. Photo courtesy of Bite Into Maine

What’s cheaper than a lobster roll, but equally addictive? A $13.95 lobster grilled cheese. At two of its three locations, Bite Into Maine has taken up the cause of slinging this delicious invention with aplomb. Witness the melding of fresh Maine lobster with gooey, creamy fontina and sharp white cheddar cheeses, grilled between two chipotle aioli- and butter-slathered slices of sourdough bread. (There’s also a B.L.T. version—lobster with mayo, local tomato, local thick-cut bacon and iceberg lettuce on butter-grilled ciabatta.) You’ll find it at the eatery’s Airstream, stationed at Allagash Brewing from April to December, and at The Commissary, its brick-and-mortar, 12-seat takeout joint in Scarborough.

WHAT: Bite Into Maine

WHERE: Allagash Brewing Co., 50 Industrial Way, Portland; The Commissary, 185 Route 1, Scarborough

HOURS: At Allagash, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. In Scarborough,  11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

INFO:  (207) 289-6142, biteintomaine.com, @biteintomaine on Facebook and Instagram

MID-PRICED: PORTLAND LOBSTER COMPANY

Slide into a seat on the sunny deck overlooking the working waterfront and crack into a traditional lobster dinner served on a simple paper tray. Market-priced (i.e., determined by weather, the success of the day’s catch, and supply and demand) but moderately so, Portland Lobster Company’s lobsters – from chicken-sized on up to 2-pounders — are delivered live twice a day. They’re plated up with fries or baked potato, corn on the cob, homemade slaw, and drawn butter. Savor it all while kicking back in the fresh, salty breeze, beneath the cries of gulls overhead, the coos of fellow happy diners all around you and maybe even a live band.

WHAT: Portland Lobster Company

WHERE: 180 Commercial St., Portland

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

INFO: (207) 775-2112, portlandlobstercompany.com, @PortlandLobsterCompany on Facebook

 

Lobster Mac and Cheese is a signature dish of Five Fifty-Five, a fine-finding restaurant in Portland. Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald

INDULGENT: FIVE FIFTY-FIVE

Chef Steve Corry’s deft hand with ingredients, both humble and haute, has justifiably made this boîte one of the most lauded in town. And Corry, an alum of Napa’s French Laundry and Domaine Chandon, doesn’t hold back on making Maine ingredients sing. Exhibit A: His truffled Lobster Mac and Cheese — butter-poached lobster folded into black truffles, a blend of artisanal cheeses, white truffle oil and macaroni. It’s so rich and delectable, it’s more like a savory dessert than entree. At $36.50, it’s a splurge worthy of any special occasion.

 WHAT: Five Fifty Five

WHERE: 555 Congress St., Portland

HOURS: Daily, 4:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

INFO: (207) 761-0555, fivefifty-five.com, @Five Fifty-Five on facebook and @555PortlandME on Twitter

Alexandra Hall is a longtime New England lifestyle writer who recently moved to Maine.

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