The Highroller Lobster Co.
104 Exchange St., Portland
Lots of people think eating greasy food is the best way to combat a hangover. Unfortunately, science doesn’t back that up. This isn’t great news for The Highroller Lobster Co., whose Sunday brunch would otherwise be a perfect hangover cure. If only.
First off, let me say that at any other time of day, I love Highroller. Both their mobile and brick-and-mortar kitchens put out a killer lobster roll, their crispy-cheese-shell lobster taco is the stuff of dreams, and they have an outstanding selection of local beers. But after a recent visit for Sunday brunch, I can’t recommend their morning meal.
My wife and I joined two friends at the Old Port restaurant at 9 a.m., just as it was opening. We sat at a booth, checked out the menu, and then walked up to the register to order. After starting with coffee ($3) — not particularly great, but hot and fresh — my wife had a Bloody Caesar ($10). The drink was weak and under-seasoned, the only real flavor coming from the Montreal steak seasoning that adorned the rim. Next, we shared one of that day’s pastry specials ($5), a fluffy sticky bun that was rich and buttery even before it was split and griddled with more butter.
After several weeks of Instagram stalking, I was most looking forward to trying Highroller’s blueberry breakfast corndog (two for $7), a blueberry-pancake-battered breakfast sausage served with maple syrup. In my imagination, it was lightly crisp and fluffy on the outside, in contrast to the fatty sausage within. In reality, the pancake batter had soaked up so much oil from the deep fryer that it was like a hot, greasy sponge. Likewise, the hash browns (two for $3), while well seasoned, were so greasy that they’d begun soaking through their waxed-paper bag before they even made it to the table.
We hoped our main courses would prove better, and some of them were. The breakfast burger ($11) — a flavorful brisket blend served on a brioche English muffin and topped with a runny fried egg, lettuce, and a tasty house sauce — was heavy and rich, but the grease level was a bit more manageable. The Highroller breakfast sammie ($10) of bacon, egg and cheese was a solid choice, although my friend regretted adding cold lobster (+$11) to his warm sandwich.
My wife had mixed feelings about her breakfast BLT ($10). The thick-sliced, applewood-smoked bacon was excellent, but next to the buttered-and-grilled bread, she declared the bacon “pretty much the least greasy thing on the whole table.” Even my friend’s avocado toast ($8) was weighed down with jalapeno mayo that added more fat to the already fatty avocado. It was just too much.
I’m not going to stop going to Highroller for lunch, dinner or a late-night snack. But I’ll stick to the menu that made them popular in the first place, and skip their Sunday brunch — hungover or otherwise.
— Dan Zarin
The Highroller serves brunch on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.