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December 14, 2009

The Lobster Roll-Off - Chapter VII - Kelly's Roast Beef

Lobster Roll - Kelly's Roast Beef Dominic Armato

Awkward framing, I know. I originally tried setting it down on the ledge to get a good angle, but the seagulls threatened to steal my lunch.

Kelly's is a place I initially met with suspicion for a lot of reasons. Its website just screams mediocre fast food chain. It's not purely a seafood restaurant. It isn't even predominantly a seafood restaurant. The full name of the place is Kelly's Roast Beef, for cryin' out loud. But it's gotten quite a bit of love, most notably from one of my most trusted chow pals here in Boston. So as always, I enter with an open mind.

The original Kelly's is a well-polished walkup establishment, located right on the water in Revere. I actually didn't realize there wasn't any indoor seating, but in a bit of fortunate happenstance, we visited Kelly's on what turned out to be the last beautiful day of the season. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the temperature was crisp but enjoyable in the lower '50s, and the beach was beckoning. Given the time of year, we couldn't have asked for a more perfect day to pick up a lobster roll, cross the street, sit at a picnic table overlooking the beach and do our best to pretend it was summer. It didn't look like much, packed into a plastic takeout container with a pickle and some nondescript fries, but hooooooo, buddy... was this one a winner.

Lobster Roll - Kelly's Roast BeefDominic Armato

I've heard tales of those magical lobster rolls that you just melt into, and Kelly's was my first. It starts with the meat, and while I was enjoying it too much to take note of the precise composition, it doesn't take much attention to not the massive claws draped across the top, which were tender and luscious and perfectly sweet. The entire thing was beautifully moist and tender, hit with the perfect amount of mayo for my tastes, and so little celery that it was borderline symbolic. The salad had already so thoroughly dominated its competition, that the bread was really just rubbing it in. It was a very thin split roll, toasted on the outside to a perfect, even crisp, light and moist on the inside, portioned perfectly to the lobster meat within, and -- in a bit of a departure -- generously buttered, adding just a little bit of richness that worked wonders.

I'm really not sure what else to say. It was freaking delicious. I'm sure it can be done, but I don't know how you improve upon this. It was said somewhere that Kelly's uses frozen lobster meat, and while I have no idea if this is true -- I don't have enough experience with frozen lobster to know the telltale signs -- I have a really hard time believing it. And if it is true, I'm going to go ahead and say it. Don't care. If freezing the lobster meat is what they have to do to make this sandwich, I say bring on the lobsicles! And at $17, it's a small but more than worth it premium over some of the bargain rolls, while remaining comfortably under the upscale joints. It's not even close. There's a new king in town.

And lastly, for the purists, truth is I tried Kelly's before B&G. Just thought I'd have a little fun with you :-)

Kelly's Roast Beef
410 Revere Beach Boulevard
Revere, MA 02151
Sun - Thu5:00 AM - 2:30 AM
Fri - Sat5:00 AM - 3:00 AM
  1) Kelly's Roast Beef
2) B&G Oysters
3) The Clam Box
4) Neptune Oyster
5) Belle Isle Seafood
6) Skipjack's
7) Fred's Sea Foods


Kelly's is great, albeit a bit spendy for what amounts to a glorified takeout restaurant. I really love their hot roast beef sandwiches, and their onion rings are probably the best I know of. They're probably the closest thing we have to a tertiary quality fast food chain around here.

I love this photo, it looks like this Godzilla-fied lobster roll taking over not only the beach but this lobster-roll-off.

Now just have to figure out when I can make it out to Revere...

I wonder if the quality/taste is consistent across the chain locations? I used to be near the one close to Everett/Chelsea.

Wangus... I don't even know that it's consistent within THIS location. I've only been once. But that one roll was a doozy.

Yeah, it does kind of have a "Lobster Roll that Ate Boston" vibe to it. I had it set out on the ledge, I was getting ready to take a nicely framed photo against the beach, and a massive seagull -- those things are bigger than they look -- landed about five feet away and started screaming at me. I went back to the table and just held the thing at arm's length while four or five of the buggers loomed ominously.

Before reading your entry, Dom, I was thinking how much I liked that picture. LOL

(I hear you on the gulls. Once, at the Jersey Shore, my husband had a hot dog up to his lips, mouth open to bite, and a gull grabbed it out of his hand)

Dom- I told you about this place before you guys moved to Boston. This was where I was raving about the fried whole belly clams and how we hand fed french fries to the birds on the beach. did you try the clams? Making my mouth water right now. very jealous of you. Next time I'll try the lobster roll for sure! Miss you! Kwan

Was THIS the place, Kwan? Ha! I should've thrown a little credit in your direction, then :-)

Nah, didn't have the clams. Perhaps a return trip is in order. Schedule permitting, of course.

Just want to say that much as I love the Top Chef aspect of this blog, it's series like this that I stick around for. Haven't lived in New England since 1982, but you still have me on the edge of my seat wondering what you will discover next.

I went to the Medford location frequently and was impressed with their fried seafood (clams specifically) but not their lobster roll. Maybe it varies from location to location.

I can say that the meat was probably frozen. To be honest, it would b a waste to actually use fresh lobster meat for a lobster roll anyway. Because of the mayo involved it's very hard to notice whether the meat is just good quality frozen or completely fresh. I only could tell because I used to make lobster rolls at a restaurant I worked at with high quality frozen lobster meat and the rolls were delicious.

save the fresh lobster for melted butter.

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