24 August 2008

Restaurant Review: Red's Eats

We interrupt this healthy blog for a bit of tacky…

Red's Eats
U.S. Route 1, Wiscasset, Maine

Either by dint of an effective guerilla marketing campaign or by its own merits, Red's Eats is widely believed to offer the best lobster roll in Maine. If you're from the area, chances are you've never actually eaten there, because (1) you're from Maine and why the hell would you wait in the gruelling two hour long line to obtain a mere lobster roll, and (2) being from Maine, you know there is little atual scope for culinary expression where the lobster roll is concerned. I mean how great can it really be? I set out to find out. I'm your lobster roll mythbuster.

First off, prepare yourself for the gruelling Olympic level endurance feat of waiting in the line that perpetually surrounds the place: stretch out, hydrate yourself and, above all, bring protective ear wear to guard against the sonic onslaught of the passing semi-trucks. The line will appear to move at a snail's pace. In fact, it is moving slower. I suggest eating a complete meal before you go. If you are completely stuffed when you arrive, you will probably be ready to eat again by the time you order. If you are hungy when you queue up, you'll most likely resort to cannibalism.

If you come unprepared, the establishment may, in a show of mercy, hydrate you. There is, I should note, a serious opportunity waiting to be exploited here for a concession stand or busker or a sun-shade salesman.

Bring someone you love. Here we find Serge and Lynda comforting each other as we near the home stretch.

Before ordering, take a moment to pay homage to Red himself—he passed away only a few months ago as I write this.

So, is it the best lobster roll in the Pine Tree State? To be fair I have not visited every lobster shack from York to Lubec, but I've certainly visted a fair few over the years, and all I can say is this: Red, may he rest in peace, clearly ascribed to the school of size matters. What separates Red's roll from your average lobster shack fare is that it's bloody enormous. If you're a tourist trying fill your lobster quota during a week's stay in Maine, then, I guess, sure it's the "best." But if you're just looking for lunch, then I'd say it's just an expensive pile of lobster with a roll adjacent to it. In my view, the best lobster rolls have lobster cut into bits that actually fit in your mouth, are dressed in mayonnaise, and are served someplace quaintly picturesque. If the place smells like bait fish, there are lobster boats tied up within a stone's throw of your table, and the smell of grease permeates the air, you're probably in the right place. If there's no bathroom and you had to take dirt road to get there, you're most definitely in the right place.

A parting note: fried zuchinni for the win!

1 comment:

Onus Manual said...

Real Mainer here - live about 5 miles from Red's. I eat there maybe once a year, on a fall evening when there's no waiting line. I really do like their lobster roll, but have only eaten it once ever - because I usually consider it too expensive for my budget (not, however, too expensive compared to other lobster rolls on the market). Instead, I order a couple of "sturdleys" and some onion rings. The "sturdley" is simply a hot dog with cheddar cheese, which I get with Morse's sauerkraut and mustard. Very Maine, the sturdley - even the name sounds authentic Mainer - but we can make the same thing at home, too - just not the onion rings, since we don't own a fryolator. “Mother” doesn’t care for lobster - won’t eat those sea spiders. So, there’s the real deal in case you’re interested...