Lobster doesn’t just have a special place in Maine’s heart; it’s our favorite dish and practically our de facto national symbol. And who can blame us? On a warm, sunny day, it’s almost impossible to beat the crustacean’s sweet, salty, and delicious meat — whether it’s found in a bisque, on a buttered roll, folded into a flaky pie, or released directly from its shell, squirted with fresh lemon, and dunked into hot melted butter.

But that kind of utter deliciousness usually comes at a cost. Lobster is notoriously one of the most expensive orders off any menu. And yet, it doesn’t have to be. The best thing about a meat as flavorful and as decadent as the king of the crustaceans is, you don’t need a lot of it to elevate lots of other (less expensive) ingredients — potatoes, say, or pasta, risotto, tomatoes or cheese — in a given dish. And if you feel like ponying up for the pure, get-your-hands-dirty and crack it from the shell, so be it.

At the end of the day, the thing about lobster is, it’s whatever you make of it, whether that’s humble or fancy. As long as it’s fresh and cooked right, it’s going to be delicious. So here are three local dishes we found that are exactly that, in price brackets ranging from low to high, that make the most of one of Maine’s most rightfully lauded natural resources.

 

$: Pinky D’s Poutine Factory

Poutine has become its own culinary battleground in recent years. There are those who adore the stick-to-your-ribs Quebecois specialty that’s become trendy of late, and those who hate it for being so sloppy. Then again, there are also those who say they hate it, but secretly love it. And hey, to each their own.

But the truth is that it’s tough to imagine anyone hating the lobster poutine doled out by Pinky D’s, the award-winning food truck from husband and wife Deborah and Randy Smith. The duo has fashioned a $16 dish — a heaping jumble of French fries, sherried bisque, cheese curds, and deftly added the coveted shellfish, salty and singing of the sea.

For lobster lovers, it’s the kind of creation that transcends all food snobbery, worthy of lumberjacks and connoisseurs alike.

WHAT: Pinky D’s Poutine Factory

WHERE: 17 Higgins St., Lisbon

HOURS: Daily, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

INFO: 207-415-8997, pinkyds.com, @PinkyDsPoutineFactory on Facebook, pinkyds_poutine_factory on Instagram, and @ProPixme on Twitter

 

$$: Chick-a-dee 

Lewiston’s beloved, family-owned seafood restaurant is the kind of place people go for a real-deal, straight-up, Maine lobster dinn-ah. So why should you be any different? The fixings are fresh off the boat, and reasonably market-priced (i.e., determined by weather, the success of the day’s catch, and supply and demand).

Choose from a score of classic sides (hand-cut fries, cole slaw, pickled beets and such) and add a pile of steamer clams, if you’re so inclined.

WHAT: Chick-a-dee

WHERE: 1472 Lisbon St., Lewiston

HOURS: Sunday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

INFO: 207-376-3870, chickadeeoflewiston.com, @chickadeeoflewiston on Facebook and @chickadeeoflewiston on Instagram

 

$$$: Fish Bones Grill

Never mind the eyebrow-raising name; the focus of this graceful, welcoming spot has been on bringing the local community together over food — and serving them something equally cosseting to eat while doing so — since it opened in 2005. Case in point: the kitchen’s truffled lobster garganelle, jacked up with roasted wild mushroom confit, a four-cheese al fredo sauce, and dusted with herbed breadcrumbs.

Fishbones in Lewiston has an exquisite truffled lobster garganelle on the menu, served with a four-cheese al fredo sauce. Submitted photo

The dish is set at market price, according to the current cost of the sweet, silken chunks of lobster within. But you came here for the full-on, splurge-driven experience; so who cares what’s left in your wallet tomorrow? This is a dish you’ll be dreaming about years from now.

WHAT: Fish Bones Grill

WHERE: 70 Lincoln St., Lewiston

HOURS: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Saturday, 4 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

INFO: 207-333-3663, fishbonesgrill.com, @fishbonesag on Facebook and @fishbonesgrill on Instagram

Alexandra Hall is a longtime New England lifestyle writer who recently moved to Maine.


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