Reader Boston Lobster Roll Challenge

The first two comments on my JetBlue trip report, where I ended by finding a good lobster roll near the airport, were about another lobster roll downtown at Neptune Oyster.

So in the interest of research and science, I decided to check it out and compare.

Neptune is more expensive, but it’s a sit down restaurant and not a takeout seafood store in a shack. They don’t take reservations, and on a Saturday night the wait can easily be two hours. I went on Sunday afternoon just before 5pm and the wait was 45 minutes.

While I waited, I played tourist and walked 3 or 4 blocks to Paul Revere’s home.

You’re spared that, since they don’t allow photographs inside.

When they had a place at the bar open up they rang me on my cell phone, I was already back at the restaurant and standing outside.

I was seated in the window, in front of some seafood, and ordered a light, dry chenin blanc.

To begin, Hamachi ceviche.

And then “Neptunes on piggyback” crispy oysters, Berkshire pig, golden raisin confiture, pistachio aioli.

They have a detailed oyster selection.

And here’s what I came to try, challenged by several readers.

The lobster roll was ordered hot with butter, you can also order it cold with mayo instead.

One reader found the lobster roll too buttery, but that’s a choice and frankly I preferred it over the ‘white sauce’ version at Belle Isle Seafood the day before. But I don’t like mayonnaise. The lobster itself, though, was a bit overcooked while the day before it was cooked separately. Neptune’s version was $25, compared to $19, although when factoring in transportation costs the seafood shack was actually more expensive.

Verdict: Belle Isle’s lobster roll is slightly better, it’s less convenient, and I prefer butter and warm over mayo and cold.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary, I’m a little disappointed in you. Can we please ensure to use proper terms here going forward?

    Connecticut Style: Warm, drawn butter
    Maine Style: Cold, mayo

    I’m with you, Connecticut style any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  2. That’s unfortunate that it was overcooked. I went in March and it was cooked perfectly, that evening. Seriously, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

  3. If you can make it there, James Hook has one of the most amazing lobster rolls around. They supply most of the restaurants around here with lobsters, and the fact that the place is a shack just makes it more legit!

  4. The best lobster I’ve had in Boston is the Roasted Two Pound Maine Lobster with Sweet Corn Pudding and Saffron Lemon Butter at Rowes Warf Sea Grille. At $35 it’s a bit more spendy than the other 2 contenders, but totally worth it, and comes with a great view of Boston Harbor from a table out on their patio!

  5. You ate all of that by yourself? I’m impressed!! Neptune Oyster is one of the best in town.

  6. Boat prices in Maine have been hovering between $1.95–to $2.25 a pound this week—sadly restaurants/grocery stores/seafood markets are gouging the public by selling at prices when the boat/wholesale price was much higher. Very sad indeed.

  7. I appreciate the dedication to research, but wow, 45 minute wait to pay $25 for a sandwich. Gas station tacos this is not 🙂

  8. Neptune is easily one of the best restaurants in Boston; a 45 minute wait to get in is getting off easy. Try more like 2+ hours on a weekend night. Try Island Creek Oyster bar for the only other seafood joint in town that gives Neptune a run for its money.

  9. I’m no expert on Boston but I’ve been to Neptune Oyster a couple of times and it is on the edge of the North End, a neighborhod with an almost endless supply of Italian and now also other types of restaurants. Is this considered downtown?

    The wait at Neptune is a real drag. We’ve waited 2 hours on a Wednesday, and when we finally got seated around 9:30, they were out of several items on the somewhat limited menu. That said, it’s really good and that lobster roll is a great, albeit expensive, guilty pleasure.

  10. Had a Lobster Roll at Belle Isle over the weekend – It was fantastic!

    I have not tried Neptune, but I prefer cold/mayo (it was really pretty light on the mayo) style. When the lobster is so fresh and perfectly cooked and the quantity they give you is so huge, I don’t think you can go wrong… (even at $18.99)

    Gary – did you see the building across the bridge from Belle Isle? It is a much bigger, new building. Looks like it will be big enough for tables even… 🙂 I overheard somebody talking to the counter person, and it sounds like they will move to the new building when it is completed. (next few months?)

    Last, I stopped by Belle Isle on my way to the airport. From Belle Isle to the rental car return is 1.9 miles, so you could stop by for a roll even if you don’t have a lot of time before your flight!

  11. Heading to Boston this weekend, and looking forward to checking out the Neptune Oyster’s lobsta’ Roll, on small business Saturday. The wife and I just registered our Amex cards and since Neptune shows up on the Small business Amex site, I will enjoying my self a CT style hot buttered lobster roll on Amex. Thanks for the heads up and thanks to Amex for supporting small business’s.

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