I was on Nantucket island for less than 48 hours to attend the wedding of two good friends. Their hospitality was such that Jon and I ate only one meal “on our own,” and for that, we headed straight to the Straight Wharf Fish Store.
This Serious Eats blurb about the place called it “Nantucket’s Best-Kept Lunch Secret” and then included a photo of a magnificent-looking soft-shell crab sandwich. Surely they would serve a good lobster roll.
Straight Wharf Fish Store is definitely first and foremost a fish store. Lots of tanks of doomed crustaceans and fish; clean, no-nonsense white tile decor. I wondered at first whether they actually sold prepared food, but then I caught a whiff of rich, creamy clam chowder and knew this was the right place.
The bad news is that the Straight Wharf’s lobster rolls cost $18 each and are served with some pretty awful potato chips. The good news is that your buttered, toasted roll comes stuffed with 1/2 a pound of chunky lobster meat, touched up slightly with tangy mayo and crunchy celery. It didn’t look like much, but it was sweet summer decadence on a roll.
We devoured our sandwiches sitting on creaky picnic tables by the water. And I thought about how the lobster roll could only have come from America: they represent an almost-embarrassing abundance. What other country would treat fresh lobster meat like canned tuna?
The clam chowder ($6.50 a pint) was no slouch, either. It lacked big chunks of clam, but it made for an unbeatable companion while I stood in the rain, waiting for our ferry back to Hyannis.
Straight Wharf Fish Store, 4 Harbor Square, Nantucket, MA 02544; 508-228-1095. (When you get off the Hy-Line Ferry, just walk down the pier and you’ll see Straight Wharf on your right. If you hit Cap’n Tobey’s Chowder House, you’ve gone too far).
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