New England—with all its cable knits, college towns, and practiced coastal vibes—is about as classically American as places come. The stomping ground of Mystic Pizza and Good Will Hunting, of Jaws and What About Bob?, it seems an unspoken agreement that somewhere within the land of Harvard and harbors lies our nation’s collective “hometown." Everything here, from architecture to fashion to the food scene, seems to’ve been primed with an unembellished coat of just right. Casual? Not by a long stretch. Just simplicity, perfected over a couple of centuries.
Perched high upon the throne of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” East Coast essentials sits the lobster roll. Simply put, it’s lobster meat on a bun—there’s not much to it. But, when done right, it’s transcendent.
Let it be known that Freshie's Lobster Co. is doing it very, very right.
The vibe is such: you’re sitting in the sturdiest of Adirondacks on a deck overlooking the Atlantic Coast. The cool, crisp mist of the ocean cuts through the warmth, but you’re wearing a perfectly weighted sweater, so you’re unbothered by the breeze. A metal, cafeteria-style tray is brought to your side, and on it sits one moderately sized sandwich and a handful of kettle chips (and, if you like, a glass of crisp white or lemonade). The roll itself is more Texas toast than hot-dog bun, and it’s somehow harnessed the absolute perfect memory foam bounce-back factor that toasted bread ought to have. It’s bursting at the seams with a heaping portion of literally-just-flown-in-from-Maine lobster, and all the buttery, seasoned, melt-in-your-mouthness that that implies. It’s saucy without being soggy. It’s the perfect temperature, it’s the perfect consistency, and the lobster meat is soft, sweet, savory perfection. It’s so good you pace yourself. It’s so good you eat any pieces that may have fallen onto the tray. (And if this is starting to sound like a Harlequin novel, let us just say that our relationship with Freshie's lobster rolls is not not a love affair).
This isn’t a matter of opinion; this is award-winning stuff. In fact, in potentially the biggest New England upset since Super Bowl LII, the land-locked lobster shop took home the 2017 title for World’s Best Lobster Roll at the Down East Lobster Roll Festival in Maine. The Freshie's Lobster Co. food truck consistently has through-the-lot lines wherever it’s found, but—if you’re lucky—you can snag a sit-down spot at their brick and mortar on Park City’s Prospector Ave.*
The two responsible for this ruckus are Lorin and Ben Smaha. Both New England natives, the two met, married, and proceeded to bring the best of the east westward to SLC. One of the secrets to Freshies’ success: their vow to have their lobster shipped “shore to door in 24.” And, while Lorin admits that coordinating daily flights from Maine with pickups from Salt Lake and transports to Park City is a “logistical nightmare,” it’s clearly a big part of what keeps the people coming back. The equation is simple: high-quality ingredients prepared simply, with each detail executed to perfection.
With average-sized rolls running in at $20, the price for perfection may seem steep to some, but in reality, it’s comparable to—and even cheaper than—many places on the east coast (nevermind the fact that this batch was literally flown in today specifically for you). First timers would do well to at least sample the award-winning staple, but we can also attest to the deliciousness of the New England Clam Chowdah, the Maine-iac Salad, and the Lobster Lettuce Cups.
As for a Utah-owned operation snatching the throne for World’s Best Lobster Roll, Lorin chocks it up as a testament to the unique, melting pot culture that Salt Lake has bred. “You have born-and-raised Utahans mixed with ski bums, east coasters, mid-westerners, and Californians,” she says. “[Freshie's] brings people back to a trip they had in Maine or Boston, and they love sharing their stories.” To the Smahas, dining is about more than just “food”, and at Freshie's, the lobster roll is far more than a sandwich. It’s a day trip to a tiny harbor town; a holiday weekend in the birthplace of American tradition. It’s the increasingly rare proof that anything worth doing is worth doing right, and evidence that more is rarely synonymous with better—except, of course, when it comes to butter.
*Ready for the best news ever? Freshie's Lobster Co. is opening up a second, SLC-based location—just a lobster pot’s toss from Liberty Park. The ETA is August, so keep fingers crossed that we’ll be enjoying sandos and Sauv Blanc from a park-adjacent perch by Labor Day.
Freshies Lobster Co. | 1897 Prospector Ave, Park City