One of the things I miss the most about living in Portland (besides my family. I should say that first right… my family and my mom’s cooking) is lobster. I’m a sucker for when I see lobster on the menu, and think longingly back to the ease of getting lobster when I was in Chicago or Boston in my past.
But here in the Pacific Northwest, everyone loves crab, understandably since they are so plentiful locally here. And I am certianly appreciative of all the delicious local fresh salmon, oysters, and crab. But I miss lobster something fierce. I’m not the only transplant with these longings.
Thankfully, a hero has arrived. David Beavers and Cathy Evanson came to visit Portland in September of 2013 to blue skies and sunshine and a visit to Cartlandia. They noticed that there was a niche that was unfulfilled – seafood. Two weeks later, they road-tripped from their home in Orlando Florida to start a food cart – Maine Street Lobster Company.
It was an improbable tale – David and Cathy are not formally trained in cooking, but have a great love of seafood. David, originally from Atlanta, grew up scuba diving for lobster and scalloping and shrimping. They were confident – “we know how to cook this stuff.”
They had a semi-retired mentality where they would have the cart open for a few days a week, and spend the rest gallivanting throughout the Pacific Northwest. They were shocked when people started complaining that they were closed and needed them to be desperately open for their lobster fix. Within 3 months, they expanded from being open a few days to 6 days a week and hiring help. They were listed as one of the Top 10 New Food Carts 2014 by the Oregonian and the Top 5 Food Carts of the Year 2014 by Willamette Week.
A few months ago, Maine Street Lobster Company expanded to a second location from Cartlandia in SE Portland. Fellow Cartlandia food cart friend Zeek’s Cheese Grill told him about the microrestaurants opening in Bethany Village, and thankfully David and Cathy jumped at the chance to triple their space to 375 feet in order to expand their menu and have more refrigeration for a wide variety of fresh seafood.
Just like before, the lobster is flown straight from fishermen’s boats in Maine 4-5 times a week and is never frozen. Of course there are the excellent lobster rolls, which come in 3 styles to choose from (all are served hot atop a buttery New England style split top bun with chips and homemade slaw)
- Maine: lobster sautéed in butter, lemon, and herbs
- Down East: lobster chilled in a tarragon infused mayo and chive dressing served cold
- Cajun: lobster sautéed in butter and cajun spices with our house remoulade sauce
If you can’t decide between hot or cold – why not both? You can also order lobster slides, either Maine or Down East style.
Maine Street Lobster Company’s Lobster Slider with Fresh Maine Lobster chilled with Down East Sauce (tarragon infused mayo with fresh lemon juice and chives) served on a Hawaiian sweet roll. It’s just bursting with lobster! They took this slider to the LA Rumble and it finished in the top five!
The restaurant carries the same Lobster Bisque, New England Clam Chowder, Po’ Boy Sandwich with choice of shrimp, breaded oysters, or lobster, Snow Crab Legs from a Cajun Boil, and the Peel & Eat Wild Gulf Shrimp as the food cart at Cartlandia.
In addition, new items at the microrestaurant location in Bethany Village include
- Lobster Mac & Cheese with Fresh Maine lobster and his secret Cajun spices in collaboration with a custom four cheese blend from fellow food cart/microrestaurant Zeek’s Cheese Grill on macaroni
- Halibut Piccata
- Fish & Chips (the batter is a special secret recipe) served with fries and cocktail sauce
- Fried Shrimp, a basket of six jumbo hand battered tempura fried shrimp served with fries and cart made cocktail sauce (the batter is a special secret recipe different from the fish batter)
- Dungeness Crab Cake, two generously sized (quarter pounder sized!) crab cakes with the crab currently being sourced from Astoria, and served with his house remoulade.
- Lobster BLT
- Prawns Linguini of prawns sautéed in a buttery white wine garlic sauce with pine nuts and shaved parmesan, served over linguini
- and more!
That said, there are also specials that rotate in every week or so – for instance this week the Bethany Village microrestaurant offered Fresh Poached Rockfish Hong Kong Style served over rice with sautéed spinach and also an Open Faced Crab Melt and a Salmon Hoagie. They also had this amazeballs Fried Peach Pie that you could add for a little more a la mode ice cream.
“We can do all sorts of things” David says as he casually mentioned all sorts of times and seafood that are fresh throughout various times of the year, varying from following where the gulf shrimp travel to how it’s soon gator season.
This coming Saturday, on October 17th from 2 – 6 PM the Maine Street Lobster cart will be hosting a Shrimp and Crab Boil that includes for $15 a platter of shrimp and crab as well as corn and potatoes . There will be live music, cornhole, as well as beer (sold next door by their friend with a license, Cackalack Chicken Shack) from Culmination Brewing Company including from 2 PM – 3 PM chat with Founder and Brewmaster of Culmination Brewing, Tomas Sluiter.
At the Bethany location only, they are also now experimenting with delivery and ordering online. Currently it is only within a 2 mile radius of their location, but based on demand may expand.
In the future, they hope to also get their liquor license and expand to shipping their lobster roll kit within the Continental US. As the weather cools, you can also expect them to bring back a limited number of daily fresh lobster pot pie which can be individual sized or family sized that is enough for 6-8.
David explains simply “We’re not trying to be fancy. We just want to be a seafood shack with fresh seafood, affordable. We’re just trying to have fun.”
Are you a lobster or crab lover? Which Seafood do you prefer? Would you pick a chilled or hot lobster roll?
Disclosure: This meal was part of a complimentary media event, but I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed are my own.