Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rolling in Lobster

Linda Bean's Perfect Maine Lobster Roll
57 Main Street
Freeport, ME (several other locations)

Hours: 11 AM-6 PM
Alcohol: None
Food: Lobster, shrimp and other rolls

Lately I've noticed that as bad as travel can be, there's one big way where I have it pretty good.

As a road warrior, I've dealt with the bad in travel. I've had to deal with endless check-in lines, canceled flights and the ever-expanding list of invasions of privacy that go with trying to fly from Point A to Point B in this country (I give them three years before they begin requiring visas for state-to-state travel).

But I've never traveled with children.

This past Sunday, some friends were passing through town on their way back from a college reunion, and I was going to meet them at the airport for lunch.

I wanted to go to a better place for food, but the wife became a mother last year, and she insisted that even in Manchester, NH, where 45 minutes is more than enough, she had to be at the airport two hours in advance.

Walking up to her on the curb, I saw why.

They were checking four (FOUR!) bags, three of which were for their little tike. A fold-up crib. A stroller. And a giant bag full of every imaginable toy to appease the little tyrant's every whim.

Fortunately, they were flying Southwest, or they would also have had to pay more than the GDP of many small African nations to actually get all their daughter's stuff on the plane.

Her husband had dropped her and the baby off along with all their stuff, and had gone back to return the rental car and then loop back around to the curb, where they'd head to check in.

It looked like a nightmare, but it's their new normal, and I can't even imagine what it would have been like if something had gone wrong.

I still don't think they needed to show up two hours in advance, but I understand the caution, and they justified part of it saying that the baby needed to crawl around for a little while to wear herself down so she would sleep on the plane.

Given how much I hate screaming babies on planes, that sounds like a really good idea.

Fortunately, there was a short delay on their flight, so we went to the Airport Diner, which sure beats MHT's food court. I didn't get to take pictures, so I'm not reviewing it, but I can tell you that their mac and cheese makes an excellent projectile.

And this isn't my only experience with kids and travel lately. A friend was sick a couple weeks ago, so I was asked to pick up another friend of ours at Logan with his wife and three daughters, all six and under.

Just looking at his face when I picked them up, and listening to the "I'm trying really hard not to get mad at you" tone in his voice he took with his daughters, I could tell he was having a really hard time, no matter how good a job his wife was doing playing the buffer.

When I'm on the road alone and I have a bad travel experience, I can just blast some classic rock in the rental car, and I'm OK. My friend didn't have that choice here.

And then the daughters needed bathroom breaks.

So his wife took down their orders for the drive thru, and they went into use the restroom while my friend drove through and then met him on the other side.

At McDonalds. Ugh.

But my friend Just. Wanted. To. Get. Home. And McDonald's makes that easy, even if they forgot his chicken sandwich.

I'm not reviewing them either.

What I am reviewing is a little place I hit while driving back to the 603 from a meeting up in Maine.

One obligatory stop in Maine is Freeport, home of LL Bean and a bunch of other tourist traps.

The LL Bean Factory Store there doesn't even have locks on its doors, since they're open 24/7, and they have just about every sporting good under the sun.

I was in a little bit of a hurry, but I decided that I wanted to have a lobster roll, since I'd never had one before.

Most of the best lobster roll places are on piers on various docks Down East where the lobsters were caught earlier in the day, but I figure that since LL Bean doesn't sell bad stuff, I'd try Linda Bean's Perfect Maine Lobster Roll, which is attached to their Bike, Boat and Ski store.

Now a couple things about lobster rolls first.

They're served cold, not hot.

I'd been expecting a hot meal, and honestly, I don't like lobster meat cold.

But despite that, it was still halfway decent. Unlike a lot of other places, there was absolutely no filler in this lobster roll, and it didn't have as much dressing. It was basically just chunks of fresh lobster with some seasoning on top.

It came with potato chips, cole slaw and bread-and-butter pickles, which I don't like either (I love dill pickles).

And since I was in Maine, and one of the major legislative battles this year was over whether blueberry pie or whoopie pies would be the official state dessert (a compromise was reached, making whoopie pies the official state "treat"), I just had to get one of their mini whoopie pies, which was actually pretty good, even as those go.

The cake portion was more "cookie-like" than a classic whoopie pie, and the filling was denser, but it was still very tasty.

I sat there on the bench right next to the stand eating the lobster roll and pondering the drive home. Since I was "just trying it out," I probably should have gotten the mini for about $8 instead of the regular for $15.50.

But it was still a decent price for real food in a tourist trap.

After eating on the bench by the service window, I got in the car and started my drive back. Alone.

I mentioned those bad experiences with children by way of thanking my dad on Father's Day, and it launched a long rant from him on all the varied grievances he had with me and my sisters when we traveled as children, ending with a statement that travel with children should be avoided.

Which I agreed with heartily.

Next time I'm at O'Hare and my flight gets canceled because of thunderstorms, and I don't know if I'll make it home, I'll give thanks that I'm not having to do it with its kids.

Rating: Might Have Thought About The Shirt If It Was A Food I Liked

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