On scenic coastal Route 1, there is a rather famous red shack that serves lobster rolls from a window overlooking the bridge and sparkling Atlantic waters. That lobster roll is good. Like, very good. Like drive across the country just to have one on a perfect sunny August afternoon in Maine. But I have a secret. There's one that's better. In this Insider's humble opinion, the lobster roll at Patty's Seafood Takeout is the very best in the state.
You need to exercise patience and the ability to delay gratification to keep driving past Wiscasset and into Newcastle/Edgecomb. But once you reach Patty's you won't have to wait in a long line. It's a scenic, green and gorgeous spot. It's a little white trailer with a few picnic tables on a lawn by the side of the road. There are the usual fried attractions, but I exhort you to stick to the plan.
Order the lobster roll, which comes with a little bag of plain potato chips and a pickle spear. I like to get a can of root beer. But you don't have to. Second thought, order root beer; it is the best accompaniment to lobster meat. Seriously. And Patty's lobster roll is overflowing with meat. Like an entire 1 ¼ lobster. Some will inevitably fall from the roll and you can eat that with your fingers or a fork. It's a simple mayonnaise-and-lobster salad filling on a butter-toasted, split-top bun. Quintessential Maine food.
So it's the quantity, the simplicity, and the quality. Every time I've been to Patty's the lobster meat is sweet, incredibly fresh, and cooked to toothsome perfection. It's pure and subtle and tastes like the ocean. The interplay of textures and temperatures – cold salad on warm bun- also contributes to this being the ideal Maine lobster roll. But then, there's something more. Something extra and ineffable that I can't quite articulate but will attempt to explain.
Patty's is about a mile from the ocean, so you can't see the water but you can feel it, smell it. The landscape is shaped by coastal temperatures, tides, and wildlife. It seems a slight breeze is always blowing. The white steeple of an old New England church is visible, as are wildflowers and beyond that nothing but trees. When I envision Patty's with my mind's eye, all I see is green. I feel the wind and taste the sea.
It has taken on mythic proportion in my imagination. Even though I am now lucky enough to live within an hour of the humble food cart, I always worry it will disappear. But Patty's is always there, reassuring, in spite of occasional protestations about selling. I still can't believe I get to live in a place brimming with natural beauty, a place that is tranquil and slowed down. It's outside of time but I get to be here now. And I eat amazing lobster rolls whenever I want. Get to Patty's Seafood Takeout as soon as you possibly can. Trust me.