Monday, June 13, 2011

Lobster Q: A Seafood & BBQ Combo

As summer nears, many of us will be taking some time on the weekends, or even during the week, to explore the myriad pleasures of New England. While touring southern New Hampshire, looking for a place to eat, you might want to consider the Lobster Q restaurant, in Hampstead, New Hampshire. I first encountered Sean Hopkins, the restaurant's owner, on Twitter and we chatted about various topics, including about Lobster Q. Sean said several things which intrigued me about the restaurant, so I decided to drive up there recently for lunch.

The restaurant is easy to locate, on Route 111, which you can readily access off Route 93. It is approximately an hour north of Boston, nestled in a small shopping center which also includes a New Hampshire Liquor Store. And while you are driving down Route 111, you will also see a few other stores that might be of interest, such as The Wine Steward and Prime Butcher.

Lobster Q is a medium-sized place with a casual decor and ambiance, and the picture of the lion fish is very cool. The restaurant is open seven days a week, for both lunch and dinner. They have a full liquor license and their beer list includes some local selections such as Smuttynose and Magic Hat. The wine list is small, includes only mass-produced commerical wines, and lacks any local wines. It would be good if they decided to include some wines from New England. 

The food menu is extensive, with both seafood and BBQ selections. The entire menu is available for lunch and dinner, and for lunch there is a special list of ten Sandwiches ($4.99-$11.99), from a Pulled Pork Sammi to a Fried Haddock Sandwich. The Sandwiches are available for dinner too (for about $1 more) and the dinner list also includes a Big Ol' Lobster Roll ($14.99). The rest of the dinner menu includes Starters ($8.99-$11.99), Soups & Salads, Garden Variety (vegetarian meals) and Side Kicks. Their entrees include Seafood Selections (most $15.99-$18.99), Smoky Goodness (most $11.99-$13.99), Fried Seafood ($9.99-$18.99), Turf Bites ($8.99-$15.99), and Pasta Dinners ($12.99-$18.99). Overall, the prices seem very reasonable, with the most expensive items usually including lobster or being combinations with multiple meats or seafood.

Sean provided me two initial samples, a cup of Clam Chowder and a couple Pork Ribs. The chowder was an impressive start to the meal, bursting with flavor and plenty of chopped clams. It was neither too thick nor too thin, and I could tell there was some sherry used to make it. This was not some bland chowder, but rather a tasty melange which is made on the premises. That is an important element of the restaurant, that much is made on the premises, from their chowders to BBQ sauces. An excellent beginning to my lunch.

The Pork Ribs were accompanied by two sauces, New England Sweet and Carolina Lava. The ribs were very tender, falling off the bone, and the meat was flavorful. The Sweet sauce is made with maple syrup, and I liked its taste, which was not overly sweet and the maple flavor was more subdued. The Lava sauce was spicy, but I didn't liked its dominant mustard flavor, but that is just a personal preference. Sean also let me taste another spicy sauce he is working on, which has some tropical fruit in it such as mango. It was hotter than the Lava sauce, and more to my liking.

I ordered a cup of the Lobster Bisque ($5.50), and savored the rich, creamy bisque. It possessed a strong lobster flavor, though there were only a few tiny pieces of lobster in it, but at this price you shouldn't expect much lobster. It was not overly thick nor thin, like the clam chowder, and should please most people.

As for a starter, I decided on the Coco-Loco Shrimp ($9.99), five butterflied shrimp in a crisp, coconut coating accompanied by a sweet sauce. The shrimp were large and the coating was very crunchy, with a strong toasted coconut flavor and it was enhanced by the sweet sauce. I was pleased with this appetizer.

For my entree, I chose the Clam Strip Roll ($8.99), with French fries instead of coleslaw. The long, fresh roll (not the usual meager hot dog roll) was overflowing with clam strips. The tender strips were excellent, with a light, clean and crisp coating. The fries were also cooked well, being crisp with a fluffy interior. This is certainly plenty of food for lunch, and bodes well for the rest of their fried fish dishes. I saw their onion rings on another table, and they looked very good, large and thin, just as I like them.

A side of Corn Bread ($1.99), made with honey, came warm, just as I prefer. It was moist and rich in corn flavor, with some sweetness but not so much that it overwhelmed. It is made on premises, so you are assured of getting it fresh.

A small Mac & Cheese ($3.99) was the only disappointment of the meal. Though there was plenty of cheese, the pasta seemed overcooked, and were too soft and almost mushy. If the pasta had been more al dente, I think this would have been a good dish.

Overall, I was pleased with my initial visit to Lobster Q, and look forward to future visits there. They seem to be doing very well with their seafood, from the delectable clam chowder to the crisp clam strips. The small taste I had of their BBQ was promising, and I would like to try more of it next time. Their prices are reasonable for the quantity and quality of the food, and Lobster Q gets my recommendation. I will also report back on my future visits.

Lobster Q on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Jade Graham said...

Best eaten with cutlery, the burger was a smoky and meaty delight that may challenge some new year's resolutions, Food Truck Catering