Last month, a resolution sponsored by U.S. Senators Angus King and Susan Collins declared Sept. 25 National Lobster Day to promote Maine lobster at the height of its season. While we love the king of crustaceans simply steamed or in a classic lobster roll, if you’re looking for more creativity, these restaurants are taking lobster to the next level.
2 Union St., Portland | 207-871-9258 | waltersportland.com | $$$$
At Walter’s, chef Jeff Buerhaus pairs lobster with soft carrot gnocchi, pancetta, peas, maitake mushrooms, and a Pernod/herb laced sauce, topping the dish with housemade ricotta cheese. The restaurant be tucked into the first floor of a nondescript office building, but Buerhaus’ cuisine – incorporating recipes and techniques from Asia, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean – is highly creative and intensely flavorful. The chef’s wife, Cheryl, oversees the polished service staff in the comfortable, contemporary dining room.
505 Fore St., Portland | 207-772-8242 | zapotecarestaurant.com | $$$$
For her Taco de Langosta Puerto Nuevo, chef Shannon Bard sautes it in the shell in duck fat, adds layers of flavor with chipotle butter, lime, cilantro, salsa and a tequila reduction, and serves it with Mexican street corn and housemade tortillas. You’ll also find fabulous cocktails, varied appetizers from chipotle pork tacos to mussels with a Mexican twist, and more entrees that, like the lobster, bring gourmet flair to south-of-the-border cuisine. The bar boasts more than 80 tequilas and tasting flights are a specialty.
78 Middle St., Portland | 207-774-8538 | thehoneypaw.com | $$$$
One of the restaurant’s most popular appetizers is the lobster tartine, a highly elevated version of the shrimp toast you find in Chinese restaurants. A thin slice of bread is spread with lobster and scallop mousse, deep fried, and topped with more lobster, sliced of radish, celery leaves and hijiki. This dish is indicative of the menu here, which is all over the culinary map, with Asian and Mediterranean flavors combined in novel ways. The third restaurant from the owners of Eventide Oyster Co. and Hugo’s is one of the hottest spots in Portland.
228 Main St., Ogunquit | 207-646-4118 | cornerstoneogt.com | $$$
Two favorite Maine dishes — a lobster roll and pizza — come together in Cornerstone’s “Cold picked lobster pizza.” The crust is topped with tarragon-sherry ricotta, mozzarella and provolone cheeses, chilled lobster salad and lemon aioli. Now that the summertime crowds have mostly gone, it’s a good time for locals to grab a table on the huge outdoor patio. The Cornerstone’s draft list is impressive — rivaling Portland’s best beer bars — the cocktails are made with care and all of the pizzas, made in a wood-fired oven, are first rate.
45 Main St., Kennebunk | 207-985-3351 | thekennebunkinn.com/dining-academe | $$$$
Featured on Food Networks “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and shipped to fans around the country, lobster pot pie is the signature dish at Academe, Shanna and Brian O’Hea’s restaurant in their landmark inn. Their lobster white pizza with spinach, roasted tomato, herb cream and truffle oil is another star, listed in Oprah Winfrey’s “O” List in “O” Magazine. But there’s plenty more to like at this historic inn dining room, including excellent cocktails, seafood, pasta and sandwiches, served in a comfortable and gracious setting.
The approximate cost of two breakfast entrees (not including drinks, tax and gratuity).
$ – $15 and under
$$ – $16 to $25
$$$ – $26 to $45
$$$$ – $46 and up