What Is a Maine Lobster Pound?

Updated on February 5, 2018
Source

Lobster Pounds, or Lobster Shacks, Are All About the Lobster

When summer arrives in Maine, there seems to be more lobster pounds than Dunkin' Donut shops. Some have been around forever, and some are new this year. They all look different. Some look like a shack. Some look like a restaurant. So, what is a lobster pound?

The first time the term “lobster pound” was used was on Vinalhaven Island, Maine in 1875 to describe a method of storing live lobster by running fresh seawater through their storage containers. It would only be a matter of time before the enterprising lobster pound owners would add outdoor kettles of seawater heated over wood fires to boil their lobsters to serve to tourists.

Lobster pounds, or lobster shacks, for me, are all about the lobster and the view. There is no better lobster than lobster right from the ocean. The salt air, the seagulls overhead, and the boats in the harbor help complete the experience. Everything else is secondary. If you have never been to a traditional lobster shack, you may be surprised by how much they differ from a seafood restaurant.

In Maine, the lobster is the lobstah. They are the same everywhere. It is the lobster shacks that are different.

What do I look for in a Lobster Pound?

When I think of a lobster shack, I picture:

  • A modest building, often cedar shingled, with a walk-up window for ordering
  • Tanks of lobster, sorted by size, and irrigated with fresh seawater
  • Large outdoor kettles of seawater heated over a wood or gas fire
  • Picnic tables with rolls of paper towels and buckets for shells

To me, a lobster pound should be located very close to the ocean. Aquariums in a grocery store or a chain restaurant do not qualify. If the lobster pound is close enough to the ocean to irrigate with fresh seawater, it is probably close enough to get their lobster directly off the boat. It would also be close enough to the ocean to have a great view.

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Lobster holding tank, Perry's Lobster Shack, Newbury Neck, Surry, MaineDowneast Lobster Pound, U.S. Route 3, Trenton, MaineLobster kettle, Carrier's Lobster Pound, Route 46, Bucksport, MAineThe dining pier, Perry's Lobster Shack, Newbury Neck, Surry, MaineView from Perry's Lobster Shack Pier, Newbury Neck, Surry, Maine
Lobster holding tank, Perry's Lobster Shack, Newbury Neck, Surry, Maine
Lobster holding tank, Perry's Lobster Shack, Newbury Neck, Surry, Maine | Source
Downeast Lobster Pound, U.S. Route 3, Trenton, Maine
Downeast Lobster Pound, U.S. Route 3, Trenton, Maine | Source
Lobster kettle, Carrier's Lobster Pound, Route 46, Bucksport, MAine
Lobster kettle, Carrier's Lobster Pound, Route 46, Bucksport, MAine | Source
The dining pier, Perry's Lobster Shack, Newbury Neck, Surry, Maine
The dining pier, Perry's Lobster Shack, Newbury Neck, Surry, Maine | Source
View from Perry's Lobster Shack Pier, Newbury Neck, Surry, Maine
View from Perry's Lobster Shack Pier, Newbury Neck, Surry, Maine | Source

What Is Served at a Lobster Pound?

  • The Classic Meal: Whole lobster with melted butter, dinner roll, an ear of corn and sometimes a scoop of coleslaw.
  • Lobster or Crabmeat Rolls with chips or fries
  • Steamed clams and mussels
  • Chowder (clam, fish, or seafood)
  • Homemade desserts (blueberry pie, ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, and cookies).
  • Soft drinks, ice tea, lemonade, water and maybe a limited selection of beers or wine. Some are BYOB.
  • Bibs
  • Wonderful views.

At a lobster pound ,you usually stand in line to order and then seat your self at whatever table is available, sometimes sharing large tables with strangers. Occasionally, lobster pounds have waitresses to facilitate the process. For me, a true lobster pound does not have cloth table coverings (paper table cloths or even newspaper are fine), napkins (a roll of paper towels on the table is preferred), silverware (crackers or a mallet and a small lobster fork is enough), and it may not even have a ceiling or windows (an umbrella over a picnic table is perfect).

When Does It Become a Restaurant?

The meal at a lobster pound includes, well, lobster. When the menu expands to include salmon, haddock, fried seafood baskets, salads, chicken, tacos, and sushi, it becomes a restaurant. Add cloth tablecloths, a wine list, and microbrews on draft, and it certainly is no longer a lobster pound. Seafood restaurants often offer "lazy man's lobster" (lobster meat removed from the shell). At a lobster pound, this would be a lobster roll.

Whole Maine Lobster
Whole Maine Lobster | Source
Lobster roll, Taste of Maine Restaurant, Woolrich, ME
Lobster roll, Taste of Maine Restaurant, Woolrich, ME | Source

It Is not as Simple as It Looks

While the menu may seem limited, eating at a Lobster Pound involves several decisions:

- Whole Lobster or Lobster Roll:

  • Whole lobster requires some effort on the diner's part to extract the delicious meat from the tail and claws of the crustacean. For me, this is the only way to eat lobster. But, it is not the neatest way. That is why they have bibs.
  • Lobster rolls usually contain the meat of a small (1 to 1 1/4 pound) lobster with or without a little mayonnaise to hold the chunks of meat together. The classic lobster roll is served on a grilled hot dog roll, but bulky or kaiser rolls are not uncommon. If you don't want to be bothered with shelling a lobster, this is a great way to enjoy one without the mess.

- Soft Shell (New Shell or Shedders) or Hard Shell Lobster:

  • As crustaceans with an exoskeleton, lobsters have to periodically shed their shells, or moult, to grow. After shedding a shell, the lobster makes a new shell with room to grow. Until the new shell hardens over the next few months, the shells are soft and fragile.
  • New shell lobsters are sweeter and easier to shell but have less meat (and more water) than a comparable size hard shell lobster. There is more meat in a hard shell lobster and it is firmer but harder to get out.

- Small or Large, Single or Multiple Lobsters

- Clams, mussels, or both

- And the most important decision of all, 'What are you going to have for desert?'

Final Thoughts

You don't have to go to a lobster pound to enjoy Maine Lobster. You can enjoy it even at home. For the most part, lobster is lobster, but when I want authenticity, tradition, a great view, and an experience, I head to a Maine Lobster Pound.

My how times change. In colonial days, lobster was so plentiful it was thought of as trash or poverty food, not the delicacy we think of today. It was fed to widows, orphans, prisoners and indentured servants. Laws were even written to limit the number of times a week these poor souls would be forced to eat lobster. Today, we travel to Maine seeking lobster and enjoy the experiences that go with eating it.

If you want an authentic lobster pound experience, check out "My Favorite Lobster Pounds in Maine". If you want to enjoy lobster at home or at a nice restaurant, that is fine too. In the end, it is all about the Lobstah!

How do you prefer your Lobster?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2012 bankscottage

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      • bankscottage profile imageAUTHOR

        bankscottage 

        5 years ago from Pennsylvania

        Thanks for stopping by ThelmaC. If you ever get to Maine, check out my favorite lobster pounds.

      • ThelmaC profile image

        Thelma Raker Coffone 

        5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

        Thanks for the lobstah education. I had never heard of a lobster pound but I sure do love lobster. Great hub.

      • bankscottage profile imageAUTHOR

        bankscottage 

        5 years ago from Pennsylvania

        Thanks for stopping by and commenting Carol. Glad you liked the Hub. If you didn't see it, I have a Hub that lists all of my favorite lobster pounds. Lobster by my camp this summer sold as low as $3.85 pr pound. Hard to beat that. Lobster, the other white meat.

        Thanks also for the votes and sharing.

      • carol7777 profile image

        carol stanley 

        5 years ago from Arizona

        I cannot tell you how envious I am of all these lobster places. You did a great job in creating a watering mouth. Great hub with photos. Voted Up and shared.

      • bankscottage profile imageAUTHOR

        bankscottage 

        5 years ago from Pennsylvania

        crookedcreekphoto, I know there is a different species of lobster in Florida/Caribbean and Alaska. You are right. You had the best. If you have been to Lubec, you have been to the real Maine. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      • crookedcreekphoto profile image

        crookedcreekphoto 

        5 years ago from Ohio, USA

        The only lobster I've ever had was in Maine. Lubec (or Down East) to be precise. I haven't ate lobster anywhere else because I figured I had the best. I love Maine.

      • bankscottage profile imageAUTHOR

        bankscottage 

        5 years ago from Pennsylvania

        hockey8mn, I agree. The lobster is fresh when I put the rubber bands on.

      • hockey8mn profile image

        hockey8mn 

        5 years ago from Pennsylvania

        It's not fresh lobster unless you pull it out of the ocean yourself.

      • bankscottage profile imageAUTHOR

        bankscottage 

        5 years ago from Pennsylvania

        beachbumaxp, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Now that you are more informed, I hope you'll be able to enjoy a lobster pound again soon.

      • beachbumaxp profile image

        beachbumaxp 

        5 years ago from Denver, Colorado

        Wow, what a great hub! I especially appreciated it after I had no idea what a lobster pound was before my first experience last September. This answers my questions and more. Good stuff!

      • bankscottage profile imageAUTHOR

        bankscottage 

        5 years ago from Pennsylvania

        Stay tuned Dan. My next hub is on my favorite lobster pounds. The best ones are out of the way. Soft shell lobster was $3.85 /pound at Day's near Freeport. The price is so low, lobstermen aren't going out.

        I'm still trying to work out a trade of lobster for Anchor Bar Buffalo wings.

        Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      • Outbound Dan profile image

        Dan Human 

        5 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

        This Hub surely brings back fond memories of travels along the Maine coast. Lobstah, Lobstah everywhere...

        Of course, when I get back home and still have a craving for seafood, I'm usually disappointed when the menu doubles in price. Back home restaurants don't have the same ambiance of a lobster shack either. They are one of those experiences distinct to New England.

        Awesome Hub!

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