Today I caught up with my sister and mom over lunch at The Tavern at Wrentham. The Tavern is a modest, clean, and spacious watering hole and dining room, complete with big-screen TVs and Keno cards on every table. It was quiet at 1 PM on a weekday, but you know it’s gotta be hopping on a Friday night.
In the interest of scientific inquiry, we ordered clam cakes and three lobster rolls.
Although this is a blog about lobster rolls, I must pause to give the clam cakes their proper due: They were delicious. Crispy and golden outside, soft and briny inside, with generous chunks of succulent clam. The Tavern serves their cakes with tartar sauce and lemon slices. They were, in short, little round pillows of New England heaven.
The lobster rolls arrived on plates with ‘slaw, fries, and a pickle. The fries were only fair, tasting mushy and processed. The coleslaw was fresh and had a nice mayo-to-cabbage ratio. It seemed to be seasoned with mustard. Although my mom liked it a lot, I found the ‘slaw to taste a little bitter and thought the cabbage could be shredded finer. The pickle was a pleasantly crispy half-sour.
The lobster roll had a couple good chunks of meat, but mostly consisted of shredded bits of lobster rounded out with excessive celery bits. The mayo tasted a little tangy, like Miracle Whip. This is incorrect. The mayo should have no distinct taste of its own-–it lives to serve the lobster, supporting the star’s briny, sweet succulence. Moreover, mayonnaise–-and I am speaking now to all mayonnaise everywhere-–should be Cains or homemade. That’s it. No other options. (Yes, I have strong feelings about this. Would I write a blog devoted to lobster rolls otherwise?) The roll itself, however, was perfect: A simple hotdog bun elevated by thorough grilling on a hot, buttery griddle. It was yellow with saturated fat, crispy on the outside, and totally delicious. That said, the lobster should take central stage in the lobster roll sandwich–-not the roll.
If you decide to visit The Tavern, note that there is a giant, empty field across the road. Your GPS might think that the restaurant is actually in the field, in which case you might wonder-–as did I–-whether The Tavern is a Brigadoon-like place cursed to invisibility under normal circumstances. In fact, it’s just across the street.