765 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas
I pronounce the R in chowder. So I'm not going to pretend I'm dialed in with which New England shorelines offer the best lobster rolls. Maybe it's Massachusetts, maybe it's Martha's Vineyard. Lobster West, a laid back bit of specialty eatery in Encinitas, suggests its Maine or, in a pinch, Connecticut. I'm not here to argue.
I did have to think about it for a minute there. The Maine lobster roll keeps it simple: chunks of chilled lobster meat on a buttered roll with a little mayo and a sprinkling of spices. The Connecticut roll does the same thing, only with warmed meat. Each packs the lobster into vertically sliced rolls baked fresh by Sadie Rose, a wise decision from the get-go. Perhaps most importantly, the lobster's sustainably fished and shipped overnight. I was definitely hungry.
The warm, Connecticut style made a convincing argument, and further muddling my decision making process was the option for a lobster grilled cheese, made with Havarti and tomato slices. But it was a warm day, the sun was shining on the turquoise waters of Moonlight Beach, and the cold standard won me over. That, or the cute woman behind the counter who recommended I go with the Maine.
I took my number stand and scoped the small, nautical, casual dining room for a small table. Presently, my sandwich appeared — $12.95 for the roll, plus 3 extra for a side of slaw and potato chips. Salt and vinegar, by choice.
The large, hearty chunks of lobster were as fresh as I'd hoped. They had a little chew to them, gnashing well within the bread, with that light but distinct lobster flavor touched off a little lemon butter. I could have handled more mayo, but I'm glad there wasn't because I did get to enjoy some of the other things going on a little more. Likewise the house spice blend holds back just enough not to overpower the fish.
Foodies with their own specific favorite New England lobster rolls — even fans of the tasty rolls down at Ironside in Little Italy (of which there are many) — may deign to pass judgment. But I'm down with Lobster West's take, and I'd honestly rather be spending my day in Encinitas than along any rocky shoreline the original American colonies can furnish.