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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Abbott's Lobster in the Rough - Noank, Connecticut

Famous Hot Lobster Roll at Abbott's Lobster in the Rough in Noank, CT

The weekend was another beautiful sunny New England weekend.  The temperatures hovered around the mid to high 80s, a mix of sun and clouds overhead and a light breeze coming off the water.  At 8:30 on a Saturday morning I met a few friends at a new spot where we went scuba diving around an old pottery site.  It was a lovely Saturday that was about to get better.  

Lunch ideas were thrown around and we settled on Abbots Lobster in the Rough in nearby Noank, Connecticut.  It was to be stop number 2 on the Lobster Shack tour and we headed to Noank in the name of research after a few preliminary checkpoints were crossed off. They were open, they were BYOB, and they were dog-friendly.  

Abbott's Lobster in the Rough

Abbot's Lobster in the Rough is located toward the end of the Pearl Street through a residential community in Noank.  The town is quaint, the streets are small, and you pass the local liquor store on your way to the restaurant.  The northern end of the street is home to lobster roll rival Ford Lobster, and the southern end of the street is home to Abbott's other restaurant, Costellos clam shack.  I soon realized I was not cultured enough to make the connection between Abbott and Costello, the American comedy duo from the 1940's.

With so many options, we decided today was the day for Abbott's, with Costello and Fords on the list for later.  Compared to Lobster Landing in Clinton, I was amazed by the sheer size of this lobster roll operation.  There is a large parking lot overflowing with cars and a little bit of mayhem trying to get to the restaurant.  Instead of a small lobster shack you have a larger main building, and a few smaller buildings scattered around the property. We went to get in line and were instantly amazed by the size of the menu.  

Menu at Abbott's Lobster in the Rough

Not only did you have three different sizes of lobster rolls, a cold option, and various other rolls (hot crab, cold crab, tuna salad, chicken salad) but the menu had just about everything else under the sun.  Chowders and stuffed clams, crab cakes and even deviled eggs.  Whole lobsters, steamer clams, mussels and artichokes.  A very large menu with something for just about everything.  While I applaud their diversity and "something for everyone" attitude, the large menu really took away from my cute lobster shack experience.  

4 lobster roll options at Abbotts

There were three different sizes of lobster rolls on the menu.  To keep judging fair, I ordered the standard size, the 1/4 lb lobster hot roll which Abbotts claimed to be their famous hot lobster roll.  If that wasn't enough, you could upgrade to the "OMG HOT LOBSTER ROLL" with almost twice the meat for $24.95, or the "LOL HOT LOBSTER ROLL" with one full pound of lobster meat for $49.95.  I found the names a little obnoxious but played along and ordered the famous Hot Lobster Roll while a friend ordered the OMG Hot Lobster Roll.  While the LOL Hot lobster roll sounded intriguing, I just cannot imagine dropping $50 on a lobster roll.....

Seating at Abbotts
Seating at Abbotts

We placed our order, paid at the counter, borrowed a corkscrew and grabbed some cups for the bottle of Rose we brought, and made our way around the back to find a spot to sit.  There were a ton of seating options from inside dining, to tables under a tent, to tables on the lawn, and my favorite, tables out on the dock right on the water.  The entire area overhead was covered in a very thin fishing line (you never even notice) to keep the seagulls away, which are known to steal a few meals.  The seagull who steals my $50 lobster roll would not live to tell the tale.

We found a spot on the dock and waited for our number to be called.  Throughout our hour plus at Abbotts, numbers continued to be yelled over the loudspeaker and finally, it was our turn.  Out came a large tray with lobster rolls, chips, coleslaw and tubs of butter. My initial reaction had two main thought bubbles.  

Lunch at Abbott

1.  Hey, it came with chips and coleslaw on the side
Oh, and look they have their own Abbotts bagged chips.  Kindaaaa cute.  

2.  WHAT THE HELL.  I ordered a lobster roll and it came on a SEEDED HAMBURGER BUN.  This is unholy. This goes against all things lobster roll.  Is this a mistake, did they run out?  Is this normal?  This is acceptable? (looking back the menu does say bun but I thought it was safe to assume all lobster rolls came on the traditional hotdog roll).

Famous hot lobster roll at Abbotts

Famous hot lobster roll at Abbotts on a *gasp* seeded bun
Initial shock aside, I recollected my thoughts and analyzed the situation.  Yes, it came on a hamburger bun which seemed to break some kind of New England customary law.  But, it came with a ton of meat and to my surprise, all claw meat.  The bun was buttered and toasted well despite its incorrect shape.  Pickles and lemon were served on the side with a tub of melted butter.  The coleslaw was creamy and the personalized Abbott's bag of chips was a nice touch.  

For $17.95 you get the sandwich and the sides which made the price a great deal.  With a bottle of cold rose and views of boats in the harbor, it was a great meal.  We chatted with other lobster loving members of the community and drank cold wine under the warm sun with the best of views.  Boats pulled into the docks to stop for lunch, and a couple to my left celebrated the day with a bottle of champagne and fancy flutes in a cold cooler.  I made a mental note to step up my rose game with some nice glasses for stop number 3 on the lobster shack tour. 

Mike ordered the "OMG Hot Lobster Roll" and we were both impressed with its size, and thankful for its traditional hot dog bun.  A heaping pile of tail meat on a traditional roll served with the same sides as the other lobster roll for an additional $7.  While this lobster roll was not involved in the overall scoring for fairness, it was worth a mention. 

1.  The Shack and Patio:  4 - Older New England building right on the water, amazing views but a much larger scale operation than I was expecting.  Not the cute shack I expected with a much larger menu then I expected but I understand they had to meet the demand.  There were real restrooms which was nice, and there were a ton of different seating options from indoors to full sun outside.  

2.  Ordering system:  3.  Relatively easy.  Took a little longer then I expected but it was a busy sunny Saturday.  Order at the counter, sit down, and wait for your number to be called.  This was minus two points for me as the constant number hollering over the loud speaker got old fast.  

3.  Booze5.  Yep, brought a bottle of Rose and enjoyed it.  They provided plastic cups.  A lot of people around us had coolers and fancy stemware. 

4.  Dogs:  5.  Dogs allowed!  Olive hung out in the shade at our table. I brought my own dog bowl.  Being dog friendly it would have been nice to have a few dog bowls out.  They had water inside in a jug.

5.  Parking:  4.  There is a large parking lot and parking on the street.  It was a little chaotic getting in and out of the lot but we managed to secure parking quickly. 

6.    Size:  4.  It is hard to judge the size when it comes on a BUN instead of a traditional hotdog roll.  But as far as I could tell for size, your average lobster roll with a good amount of meat. 

7.    Meat:  3. Good amount of meat all cooked to perfection.  However, it was all claw meat which surprised me.  ALL CLAW MEAT !

8.    Bun:  3.  You probably get the picture by now and I don't need to elaborate.  I am stubborn and set on my ways and firmly believe lobster rolls should come on a perfectly toasted and buttered hot dog roll.  However, the bun was toasted and buttered.. it was just a bad vehicle for the lobster.  It kept spilling out of the sides whereas in a traditional hot dog roll is stays put.  What's next, lobster roll pitas!?

9.    Butter:  5.  Butter ratio was good and there was butter served on the side. 

10.  Price:   5.  ~$18 for just the roll is normal, and it turns into a great deal when it is paired with chips and coleslaw.  To get the roll and sides for that price was a deal compared to most spots that just serve the roll for that price. 

Overall, I rated Abbott's Lobster in the Rough a 41/50.  Dog-friendly, BYOB with a liquor store right up the road.  Beautiful location but a large scale operation that kind of misses the "Lobster Shack Charm".  The lobster meat was great, but I was greatly disappointed by the seeded hamburger bun for the lobster roll.  Lots of options (hot or cold) along with other seafood and nonseafood items.  Loved that there was chips and coleslaw on the side, and I enjoyed a cold glass of rose with a view.  

Also worth a mention, is the dessert shack located on the property.  We ended the Abbott's experience with cold blueberry pancake ice cream in the shade.  A fantastic day at Abbotts and number 2 on the lobster shack tour complete.  


  1. I knew they came on a round bun. Also do not approve.

  2. Mmm, looks so good! I am missing lobster now. Olive looks so cute! - Alicia @


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