An Authentic North Shore Seafood Shack with a Heavy Dose of New England Personality, By Lindsay Gabrielski
When the sun begins to near the horizon and the cars finally begin to trickle out of the beach parking lots, there is only one thing on everyone’s mind — an après-beach meal. As a North Shore resident for most of my life, I personally know that nothing works up a stomach growling hunger like a day full of sun, Frisbee, swimming and waves. After spending the day at Good Harbor Beach until 7:00 p.m last Saturday, I had little tolerance for changing, let alone showering until I found something to eat. Given my attire and that I was on the North Shore in the peak of the summer season, a seafood shack was the obvious choice.
Laid-back seafood shacks are a treasured part of life on the North Shore, from the renowned Woodman’s of Essex to the famous fried clams of Ipswich’s Clam Box, good seafood is never hard to find. Still, when the tourists roll in eager for seafood binges, it’s rare to find places that the public does not seem to know about. I discovered one of the best of these hidden gems this past weekend. Located on the outskirts of Rockport, in a quiet section of Cape Ann, The Lobster Pool adds a distinctly personal touch to casual seafood dining.
While less known than many of the North shore’s historic seafood shacks, a line of cars along Granite St foreshadows you are approaching the little red shack known as The Lobster Pool. Saying that the Lobster Pool has a spectacular location would be a drastic understatement. Perched on the Rocky Shoreline of Ipswich Bay, the Lobster Pool faces west over the ocean and offers one of the best sunset view on the Northshore. On this particularly warm and clear evening, almost everyone had brought their food down to the outdoor picnic tables to dine under the stars and gaze at the far away shorelines of New Hampshire and Maine.
Although most were wearing beach cover-ups and flip flops, the atmosphere at The Lobster Pool seemed to say “no shoes, no shirt, no problem!” Many like me had come straight from the beach and were far more concerned with getting their fried clams or lobster roll then they were with getting the stray sand off their faces. Though there is usually a wait to order at the counter, the line moves fast and there is a conveniently placed lobster tank lining the wall that offers quick distraction. Eager to catch the sunset, a friend and I quickly grabbed two lobster rolls, a side of corn on the cob and a potato salad.
The scene outside was somewhere between casual restaurant and family reunion barbeque. People gathered around shared picnic tables admiring an unbeatable view between bites of fried seafood and sips of their BYO beverage of choice. As if the fresh seafood and view were not enough, the summer scene was further enhanced by a seashell painting station, an open fire that also served as a smore station and a women playing the guitar as the firelight gleamed before her and the sun set behind her. The community style dining made for easy bonding with similar après-beachers who even offered us some of their fisherman’s brew, as we seemed to have missed the BYOB memo.
Our lobster rolls were tender and delicious and lived up to their “no nonsense” reputation, but judging by the empty cartons and plates around us were evidence that most of the menu at The Lobster Pool is delicious—even the hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken sandwiches that keep the non-seafood lovers happy. Given what most pay for seafood these days, even the prices here are reasonable (especially if you factor in the National Geographic worthy sunset and free smores!) Make sure to get a side of corn on the cob and finish with a homemade blueberry pie and you’ll have a meal that screams summer in New Enlgland.
Next time you leave the beach, continue to the pool by heading out of Rockport past Halibut Point State Park to 329 Granite St. Pick up a bottle of wine on the way and perhaps even Fido (the outside is dog-friendly) and we promise you a perfectly summer end to a perfectly summer day.