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Undeniably, The Lobster Shack at Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth has one of the most dramatic settings of any lobster pound in Maine. With a stunning panorama of bold cliffs and crashing surf, this is picture-perfect rocky Maine coast.
That it is not a riveting culinary tour de force is no surprise. This is lobster pound territory, after all, on the outskirts of city life across the bridge .The food is good, hearty and plentiful, and the seafood is all locally sourced. In operation for over 50 years, I don’t think much has changed at this revered seaside outpost.
In the past I’ve gone to Two Lights for my fix of fried clams or a lobster roll at lunch time. And I try to time my visits before or after tourist season, preferably on a crisp day in May or even a chilly one later on when you can eat inside in their knotty pine paneled dining room and still catch the brilliant view through large windows.
This time I chose the worst possible moment to go: on a recent Friday night (it stays open until 8:30 pm). After a beautiful, warm, sunny day the weather had turned blowing a chilly wind off the water and an ominous sky overhead. Still, the tourists were out en masse. The small parking was jammed, and it’s a hard one to navigate with all those wide rear ends (the cars!) protruding amongst the family vans and supersized SUVs. Luckily we found a space right away.
That evening there was a sundry mix of locals and visitors alike. I bumped into a few friends who had the same idea: to enjoy a lobster meal on the rocks without having to travel far. Stupidly I didn’t think of taking a cooler stocked with beverages beyond the usual soda. I’m not sure if Two Lights has a BYOB policy, but no one seemed to be monitoring or caring about that.
The set up here is the same as in most other pounds. You stand in line to place your order and wait 10 to 15 minutes to hear your name or number called for pick up.
We went whole hog that evening, and our $59 dinner for two included a fried clam boat –nicely breaded full belly clams with crinkle cut fries and a small Cole slaw—and a lobster dinner plate, which included fries, a larger portion of slaw and two flakey biscuits that were pretty good. I ordered a side of onion rings and two desserts—old family recipes that are made on the premises.
To me the best tasting lobster is the 1 ¼ pound size or 1 ½ pounders; anything larger doesn’t have the same sweetness. I’m assuming that the lobster I had was 1 ¼ pounds though it looked much smaller. But the flavor was good—sweet and very briny even if it was a touched overcooked. . I also liked the house Cole slaw, which is laced with pineapple, giving it a nice sweet touch instead of the usual sugary vinegar solutions upon which most recipes are based.
The onions rings were not the best I’ve had (Five Islands’
version ranks very high) and the fries seemed out of the freezer pouch. The clams were well breaded and not greasy with plenty of brininess. The tartar sauce was also homemade and much better than those packets made by Kraft Foods, which are increasingly found at such places as Harraseeket Lunch
, which is one of my least favorite pounds.
The two desserts—a mini blueberry pie and grape nut pudding-- were well made. The pudding was very good with penty of flavor and rich, custardy texture. The pie was way too sweet and not one I’d order again.
For those of us who live in Greater Portland, Two Lights is like the neighborhood pound for lobster in the rough and all the fixings. It’s like getting away to someplace exotic and remote, yet it’s so accessible, with gorgeous scenery, very decent food, and I hope it stays that way for at least another 50 years.
John Golden makes no bones about sharing his opinions. If you'd like to share yours, email him at email@example.com