Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Warren's Lobster House: First Impressions

On a recent trip to Kittery, Maine, we stopped at Warren's Lobster House for lunch. This was my first time at this restaurant, and it's located next to the Piscataqua River, just across from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It definitely has an old-school feel, and it's website claims that the restaurant was established in 1940, by Warren “Pete” Wurm, making it over 80 years old. 

The Portsmouth Herald, August 31, 1938

The restaurant's roots though might extend back to at least 1938, when Wurm might have first had a retail and/or wholesale lobster business. The above was the first newspaper ad I located concerning this business, and during the rest of 1938, lobster prices would range as low as 19 cents a pound, and never more than 23 cents.

The Portsmouth Herald, June 6, 1940

The above is the first advertisement for the restaurant, Warren's Lobster Co., noting it sold Lobster Patties, Fried Clams, French Fries and more. Their website states that when Warren’s was first opened, it was only a "six-stool lobster stand."

The Portsmouth Herald, October 24, 1940

Here's another of the earliest ads, mentioning that Fried Smelts were a special that week, and that Fried Fish were a common menu item. 

The Portsmouth Herald, July 18, 1941

Could Warren's Lobster House be a year older than claimed? Check out the large advertisement above, noting the restaurant's Second Anniversary, which would mean the restaurant opened in 1939. Plus, check out those prices! In an article in the Portsmouth Herald, July 24, 1941, it was also noted this was their second anniversary. In addition, owner Warren "Pete" Wurm had just opened a new, larger dining room, with a capacity of 100. The restaurant also had a smaller dining room for groups of 30 or less. So, did the restaurant first open in 1939 or 1940?

Today, the restaurant is even larger, with a capacity of 350, and it has seating on an outside deck, looking out on the river. It's a very casual restaurant, and was quite busy on a weekday lunch. It's clear this is a very popular spot.

It has a lengthy menu, which is primarily seafood although there are other options as well, from chicken to steak. There's plenty of fried seafood options, including Gulf Shrimp, Calamari, Sea Scallops, Native Clams, Haddock Chunks, and more (plate prices averaging $25). 

Some of the seafood entrees include Lobster Stuffed Haddock, Seafood Jambalaya, Scampi Casserole, Salmon Au Gratin, and Crab Topped Chicken Oscar. There's also an entire page of Lobster options, from Popcorn Lobster to Lobster Stuff Lobster Tails, Baked Lobster Mac n' Cheese to Double Stuffed Lobster Rolls, and much more. 

Most of the main dishes include the Soup & Salad Bar, which contains over 60 items (another very old school concept). Prices are reasonable, considering the quantity and quality of the dishes, as well as noting the high prices of some seafood items, such as Lobster.

I opted for a Fried Combo Plate of Sea Scallops and Popcorn Lobster ($35). The Popcorn Lobster consists of pieces of fried lobster claw and knuckle meat, with a side of melted butter. The dish came with a side of french fries, as as well as Soup & Salad Bar. The plump scallops were sweet and tasty, with a nice, clean taste. And the popcorn lobster was quite good as well, also sweet and with a nice, clean taste. 

My dining companion ordered the Tails & Claws ($38), a baked stuffed lobster tail and three boiled lobster claws. This dish also included the Soup & Salad Bar. The stuffing was buttery and slightly crisp, and the lobster was tender and delicious. 

I was pleased with our lunch choices, and there's plenty of the menu items I'd like to try on a future visit. It's an old school New England seafood spot, specializing in lobster, and if you're in the area of Kittery/Portsmouth, it would be worth checking out.

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