Taste Test: Toronto’s best lobster rolls


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Winner: Smoked & Cracked (Image: Cheol Joon Baek)

Grant van Gameren is joined by Geoff Hopgood, of the Maritime-inspired Hopgood’s Foodliner, in sampling Toronto’s best lobster rolls. Which one claws its way to the top?

WINNER:
Smoked & Cracked, 516 Mt. Pleasant Rd., $20
“This one tastes really fresh,” says Hopgood, biting into the roll. “There’s a good amount of lobster in it,” says van Gameren. Both enjoy the tarragon, but Hopgood finds the bun a bit heavy. “This is the purest form of the lobster roll with the best, purest-tasting lobster,” says van Gameren. Hopgood agrees: “It’s unanimous.”

 

BANG-ON BUN
Museum Tavern, 208 Bloor St. W., $19
“This is a classic bun,” muses Hopgood. “I really like the bun — it’s got that nice smell to it,” says van Gameren. Hopgood suggests upping the acidity: “Lemon would be really nice.”

 

 

LOADS OF LOBSTER
Rock Lobster, 538 Queen St. W., $14
Hopgood notes the homemade chips that accompany the roll. “There’s a nice quantity of lobster in there,” says van Gameren. Both would prefer a touch less paprika seasoning to better showcase the lobster.

 

 

GREEN ONION GOODNESS
John & Sons Oyster House1 Balmoral Ave., $21
“The lobster’s gotta be moist and rich,” says van Gameren. This lobster filling is dotted with celery and green onion. “It’s nice as an accent,” he notes, though he advises reeling in the green onion a bit.

 

 

NON-TRADITIONAL TAKE
The Chase Fish & Oyster10 Temperance St., $21
“It’s like a Waldorf lobster sandwich,” says Hopgood. “I admire the ingenuity.” Van Gameren: “I like the fennel aspect of it, and it’s a nice, rich, buttery bun.” He does, however, find that the walnuts mask the lobster flavour.

 

 

SWEET FRESHNESS
Rodney’s Oyster House, 469 King St. W., $10
Hopgood: “The lobster’s kinda sweet, which works with the tarragon.” Van Gameren finds the lobster “pretty fresh” but it could use a tad more moisture.

 

 

CLUBBY CRUSTACEAN
The Shore Club,155 Wellington St. W., $20
“The avocado and lobster with the bacon — they’re nice together,” says Hopgood. This club sammy take on the lobster roll impresses van Gameren: “It’s definitely not for purists but … it’s pretty good!”

 

 

EASTERN AUTHENTICITY
Starfish, 100 Adelaide St. E., $17
“For a mayo-based one, it’s a little bit more traditional,” notes Hopgood. Both chefs would prefer if the lobster were served in chunks, rather than shredded. 

 

 

Chefs Geoff Hopgood & Grant van Gameren: Hailing from the East Coast, Hopgood joins van Gameren as this month’s resident lobster roll aficionado. “I like classic, but I like the ones soaked in butter,” Hopgood says. “I don’t want too much extra jive.” 

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