A lobster roll for $6.95 is pretty much unheard of, except for at Pool Street Market. Photo courtesy of Pool Street Market

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 beast-like 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 downpayment to be a memorable gastronomic experience. Here are three local lobster menu specialties that are just that for every budget.

Cheap: Pool Street Market

There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the recipe for the lobster rolls at this perfunctory counter; the roll isn’t artisanal or grilled. The only add-ons you’ll find are the old standbys: lettuce, butter or maybe a swipe of mayo. But when they hand over your order, it’s impossible not to notice how stuffed with lobster it is, and how incredibly fresh that meat is. They include knuckle meat, which any lobster aficionado will happily tell you is the best, most tender part. The prices, meanwhile, are according to size. The smallest, still teeming with a generous scoop of that same flavorful meat, rings in at $6.95 — which may be the most remarkable thing of all.

Lobster rolls from Pool Street Market in Biddeford come stuffed as much or as little as you’d like. Photo courtesy of Pool Street Market

WHAT: Pool Street Market

WHERE: 77 Pool St., Biddeford

HOURS: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

INFO: (207) 282-9824, @Poolstreetmarket1 on Facebook and @poolstreetmrkt on Twitter

 

Mid-priced: Mike’s Clam Shack

Its name notwithstanding, Mike’s is less of a shack and more of a no-frills, family-friendly restaurant. But that aside, the real emphasis here is on the super fresh lobster dinners that are market-priced (i.e., determined by weather, the success of the day’s catch, and supply and demand). They’re served with the standard sides, all well executed: veggie, cole slaw, baked potato and the like. As for the prized shellfish itself, they range in size from chicken lobsters on up to 2-pounders. And if you’d rather skip all the dismantling and cut to the chase, go for the Lazy Man’s Lobster and dig into a steamy mound of sweet lobster meat sautéed in butter, minus all the cracking.

WHAT: Mike’s Clam Shack

WHERE: 1150 Post Road, Wells

HOURS: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wed through Sunday

INFO: (207) 646-5999, mikesclamshack.com, @mcshakk on Facebook, mikesclamshack on Instagram, and @mikesclamshack on Twitter

 

The wood-fired lobster dinner for dinner from Earth at Hidden Pond. Photo by Doug Merriam

Indulgent: Earth at Hidden Pond

Few places can match the magical experience of dining at Earth, tucked into Hidden Pond resort’s beautiful, birch-studded woods and surrounded by carefully tended gardens. The dining room, anchored by a gargantuan fireplace, nails that rare balance between special occasion-worthy and chic yet fun and unpretentious. And that balance continues in all of the kitchen’s dishes, and particularly in the $100 entree for two: two pound-and-a-half local lobsters, smoky and deep-flavored from a wood-fired cooking, alongside accoutrements like wood-fired corn, potatoes, clam chowder and a drawn butter that turns everything it touches into velvet.

WHAT: Earth at Hidden Pond

WHERE: 354 Goose Rocks Road, Kennebunkport

HOURS: 5:30-9:30 p.m. daily

INFO: (207) 967-6550, earthathiddenpond.com, @earthathiddenpond on Facebook, @earthathiddenpond on Instagram, and @HiddenpondEARTH on Twitter

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


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