The Best Lobster Roll in Maine

Fifteen miles off the coast of Rockland, Vinalhaven island lies among Maine’s richest lobstering grounds. No wonder it also produces the state’s best lobster roll.
[Y]ou’ll find it a short walk from the state ferry terminal at Greet’s Eats, Greta McCarthy’s food truck perched on the edge of Carvers Harbor. When McCarthy is running low on lobster, she simply opens the back door and calls out to her next-door neighbor, the Vinalhaven Fishermen’s Coop. A skiff soon pulls up to offload a fresh catch at her feet.

Greta, a seventh-generation islander, has lobster in her blood. Her husband, son, and son-in-law fish. So did her father and grandfather. But Greta cooks. She’s worked in the kitchen for as long as she can remember, serving as a cook for summer families on the island.

Five years ago, prices for lobster hit a record low — and so did the income for Greta’s family and many other island lobstermen. Greta decided to venture out on her own to generate some extra income. She set up a lunch cart and began selling hot dogs, hamburgers, and lobster rolls.

Greta attributes much of her early success to interest in the three wind turbines that were being built on Vinalhaven in 2009. “Everyone would come gawk at the big pieces being carried in,” she says. “So I did pretty well that first summer.”

But what kept folks coming back was her lobster roll.

Last year, she swapped out the old hot dog cart for a red food truck she found in Uncle Henry’s. It is always parked in the same spot, overlooking Carvers Harbor, where lobsterboat sterns are stacked high with traps and gulls circle overhead.

On the morning we visit, Greta opens the ordering window at 11 o’clock and finds two islanders waiting, hoping to grab a quick bite before they head back to work. Out of the fridge comes a tub of fresh lobster, which Greta spoons into each bun. The buns are filled, but not overflowing. The meat is chopped into small pieces, and lightly dressed so its flavor is not overwhelmed by mayonnaise. This is the way a lobster roll should be.

Greet’s Eats was a Down East crowd-voted favorite and, ultimately, a staff favorite, too. The dressing — two parts mayo, one part Miracle Whip, well-seasoned with black pepper — surprises. The lobster, cooked in salt water, tastes fresh and sweet. Pair it with an order of Greta’s Fancy Fries (seasoned with parmesan, garlic powder, and pepper) and a cold beverage, and you have a meal that’s well worth the hour-long ferry ride from Rockland.

West Main St., Vinalhaven

Check out a few runners-up from the Best Lobster Roll feature in our August 2014 issue!

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