Woebegone at Waterman's
I never met a lobster pound I didn’t like. That is, until recently.
After finding that Miller's, our first choice, was fogged in, my friends visiting from New York and I ended up at Waterman’s Beach Lobster in South Thomaston, based on the single criteria that it was sunny there.
The first thing one notices about this well worn lobster shack, besides its stunning picture-postcard setting on the ocean, is that you also get a jarring view of the black gravel parking lot and the port-a-johns saddling the sea wall.
Still it was a sunny, beautiful day, and Maine’s signature dish, the lobster roll, would make the moment the way life should be. All I wanted was a lobster roll anyway—how bad could it be? Of the four of us, three ordered lobster rolls and one had a one-pound lobster dinner, which comes with butter, a roll (which turned out to be a baguette slice), and chips.
Our lobster rolls only came with a bag of chips (Frito Lay), so I chose a couple of sides—Cole slaw and macaroni salad to share.
Incidentally, I noticed that it was one dollar cheaper to have the lobster dinner ($13.95) than a lobster roll. What curious food economics.
At Watermen’s you can eat under a covered porch or at picnic tables outside right by the water. We chose the outdoor tables and our food was ready fairly quickly. There’s actually table service at Waterman’s—after going through the usual window order routine, a waitress brings the food.
At first I thought that we were given the wrong order. What appeared were sandwiches on big bulky seeded Kaiser rolls. What, no toasted bun?
In the tradition of roadside fare, this gastronomic lapse is a major breach—culinary blasphemy gone wild.
Not only was the bread wrong but its meager filling was more like a spread. You could barely taste the lobster because it was drenched in so much creamy stuff. The two salads were forgettable, and when we ordered lemonade thinking it was home made, it turned out to be commercial grade and none too tasty.
In my opinion, there are standards for great lobster pound and clam shack fare:
- The tartar sauce should be homemade, not from a plastic pouch.
- Lemonade or iced tea needs to be freshly made, not from a can or bottle.
- Fries and onion rings shouldn’t come from a plastic institutional bag but made from scratch.
- The shellfish must be freshly caught that day.
- At least two local homemade sweet treats like blueberry pie or whoopee pies.
Still, it was a fun outing if not a wholly disappointing meal, and as I drove by Miller’s road I was tempted to have lunch all over again, fog be damned, where they would get it right.
John Golden makes no bones about sharing his opinion. If you'd like to share yours, email him at email@example.com.