I bought a $50 filled roll in the US and have zero regrets

Travel News from Stuff - 25-09-2023 stuff.co.nz

There’s a two-metre lobster claw above me, jutting out from the building facade. It’s a little jarring against the quaint village shops, but nearly every shop window here has some reference to the crustacean.

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I’ve stopped in Bar Harbor, a beautiful little port town in Maine, as part of a cruise through New England with Holland America. I’d spent the morning cycling through the carriage trails in Acadia National Park, stopping at the picturesque Eagle Lake, with water so pure, bodily contact is banned.

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The main town of Bar Harbor could be described as a bit twee – immaculate properties with perfectly positioned hanging baskets, manicured lawns along a charming waterfront, buildings painted in white, pastel yellow and sea blue – and then there are the giant lobster claws.

I’d worked up an appetite after the bike ride and knew exactly what I wanted. Because no one comes to this part of the USA without sampling the local delicacy: a lobster roll.

The town is set up to convince you that you need it, too. There are lobster statues, lobster paintings, lobster branded T-shirts, the aforementioned giant lobster claws mounted on buildings and a host of lobster-related merchandise.

I began to wonder if the pupils of my eyes had turned into tiny spinning discs of cartoon lobsters as if I was being hypnotised. I don’t think I ever had a choice – I was going to be eating a lobster roll for lunch.

Like crayfish in New Zealand, lobster is sold at market price, and it doesn’t come cheap, with the added bonus of tax and tipping in the US while also travelling on the Kiwi dollar.

There are multiple places that sell them in Bar Harbor and most were around US$24.95 plus tax on top. That’s about NZ$50. I’d never spent so much on a piece of bread in my life. You can choose to have it with mayo, but one of my fellow American travellers recommended it with just hot butter. I went to Downeast Deli, ordered my $50 filled roll and lemonade and sat down on a bench outside a bookshop and unwrapped the goods.

Butter was already melting through the paper wrapping and, while the roll didn’t look particularly gourmet, one bite of it and I was in a buttery lobster heaven. The meaty filling was generous, and the flesh seemed firmer and chunkier than our NZ equivalent of crayfish.

It was best not to think too hard about the price, or how half my week’s usual grocery budget was blown on a filled roll. So I made sure to savour every tasty morcel, slowly chewing through the sweet flesh as the sun beat down on this whimsical village.

Find Downeast Deli & Boxed Lunch Co at 65 Main Street, Bar Harbor, Maine. Open daily, but closed seasonally in winter. See:

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