So, what exactly is a lobster roll anyway? I know this sounds like a stupid question to you New Englanders, but you have to understand that when Californians hear "lobster roll" they envision lobster with farmer's market organic ingredients such as avocados, tomatoes, cilantro and scallions, tightly wrapped in a flour tortilla, diagonally sliced in 1-1/2 inch pieces, and accompanied by an arugula salad. Either that, or we think sushi.
That is NOT what a lobster roll is. I couldn't wait to try one, after hearing from a fellow VTer how fabulous they are in Maine. How to describe a lobster roll? Oh, I know this will sound like an abomination, but the explanation I would give to my woefully uninformed California friends is, it's like a tuna fish sandwich, only with lobster and shoved into a piece of bread that is half sandwich bread, half hot dog bun. OK, admit it, isn't that a fair description? Except the meat of the sandwich isn't found in $1.39 cans, but costs $15 per pound on the east coast and $25 per pound in California.
Favorite Dish: Harbor Gawker in Vinalhaven had absolutely the best lobster rolls I had in Maine, and I tried several places. I hope you guys at Harbor Gawker read this. Yours are the BEST!
The best place to eat on Vinalhaven is the Harbor Gawker. It's a little place on Main Street with a few tables where you order from the counter. The menu is eclectic with a huge focus on seafood and lobsters. I didn't know it when I ordered and ate it, but this is the place where I ate the best lobster roll I would find in Maine. Yes, even this vegetarian couldn't come to Maine and NOT have fresh Maine lobster.
Favorite Dish: Lobster rolls. The best in Maine! The price was also good. When we were there, the lobster rolls were $11.50. The price varies throughout Maine. We saw them as high as $16.50. Goes up as you get to higher populated areas. Kind of like the price of gasoline.
You can also get lobster dinners, crab cakes, corn bread, sandwiches, burger, fish and chips, crab salad, taco salad, seafood chowder, haddock sandwiches, shrimp baskets and blueberry pies. The decor is fun and whimsical, and ultra tacky too - it's great. You gotta love the huge plastic lobster in the lobster trap hanging from the ceiling!
There isn't a lot of restaurant variety on Vinalhaven Island, but that isn't all bad because it means there aren't that many tourists. There are three readily available restaurants in the town of Vinalhaven, the Harbor Gawker being the best among them for seafood.
We picked a table in the very back of the restaurant so that we could watch the tide moving out of Carver's Harbor. Their lobster rolls are supposed to be very good; however, I decided to go with a fried seafood platter that day. Typically, I am not a fried seafood platter kind of guy, but after riding our bikes around the island it sounded good for some bizarre reason. The platter was good though I don't think you can infer to much from fried seafood.
On karenincalifornia's Vinalhaven page she gives the Harbor Gawker high marks for their lobster rolls.
The restaurant has a pretty extensive menu of items and it also has hard ice cream with about 15 or so different flavors. Only place on the island I noticed with ice cream.
I imagine that residents of the island appreciate going out for a dinner of something other than seafood, especially if you fish for a living. That is probably The Pizza Pit was started. We noticed that they have a special dinner every 3 days or so. When we were there it was meatloaf and mashed potatoes for a little while and then it was a Mexican dish.
We stopped in for an early dinner one day and had a cheese pizza. It was a very good pizza; thick crust, lots of cheese and good sauce. We ate about half of it while we were there and took the other half with us back to our rental house for lunch the next day. A person doesn't travel to the ocean for pizza, but it does make for a nice break every now and then.
One other interesting note, the restaurant was previously a pharmacy. The interior hasn't been changed to much and lining the walls were row after row of old wooden drawers where medicines must have been stored. As one who likes historic buildings, I was kind of captivated by the wooden drawers, wooden floor and authentic feel of the place.
There is no better way to have lobster than to buy it fresh from the fisherman's Coop. It doesn't get any fresher than being caught that morning. And you are directly supporting the fishermen with no middleman.
Favorite Dish: Duh.
Right on Main Street this Vinalhaven gem is always delicious. Open in the season and into the fall. Run by Tori and Dennis Pratt. Tori is also the womens high school basket ball coach. She is the chef and has the great creative ability to make dining fun. From fish to soup to deserts it all couldn't be better. I really feel you can't go wrong with anything on the menue here and so do the locals and summer people so book a reservation. There are only 2 seatings and they fill up fast. This is one of Vinalhavens treasures. And Tori has a winning basket ball team too.
Favorite Dish: The soups are excellent...... all the sauces devine.......the creative artisty is amazing for this quiet island in Maine an hour and twenty minutes off the mainland. Do save room for desert it is exceptional too.