Man Food: Lobster Heaven (Sans Tourists) at Alive & Kicking in Cambridge
Sure, the summer months may feel more appropriate for rolling up your sleeves and indulging in one of New England’s most beloved crustaceans, but who’s to say we can’t enjoy it with endless piles of snow on the ground too? There are options aplenty if you’re searching for lobster within city limits and up and down the coast line, but of course the version most iconic to us is the coveted lobster roll. Unlike many varieties of sandwiches and classic dishes, there aren’t a lot of twists and turns to look out for when seeking greatness—and Alive & Kicking Lobsters in Cambridge offers a sandwich that’s as scaled down and minimal as it needs to be.
The eatery is located under a house on the side of an off-the-beaten-path road in Central Square, and has essentially no menu to speak of and quite possibly the world’s smallest parking lot. The sounds of humming lobster tanks and a limited but impressive display of oysters and scallops are there to greet you, along with cages upon cages of lobster traps as you walk into the storefront.
Here, you won’t find a split hot dog bun filled with barely warm lobster meat. No, sir, instead you’re given a neatly stacked pile of freshly shucked lobster held together by two pieces of buttered and toasted Scali bread. Don’t even think about calling it a roll, this is a lobster sandwich and a hell of a good one at that. The bread is quite a refreshing change of pace from the overused roll, which is often doughy and too spongy. The not-too-thick Italian bread is heavily buttered and crunchy, providing a fantastic vehicle for a substantial amount of lobster meat. Just barely kissed with mayo and not covered up with any unnecessary slivers of celery, the lobster stands alone, the way it should be intended. The meat is sweet, delicate, and chopped up into very rough pieces, so you know you’re eating nothing but lobster in every luscious bite. The bread is warm and the lobster is chilled, providing a contrast in temperature that can’t be beat. Not to be overlooked is the bargain price of $13.95, which includes a bag of Cape Cod chips and a very fine bottle of one of their custom sodas.
Even as we grind through the end of the winter months, the fresh lobster at Alive & Kicking is as delicious as it would be in mid-July. With no tourists to speak of, you can enjoy the outdoor picnic area all to yourself if you don’t mind the cold. But if you’ve come this far to satisfy a normally mid-summer treat, chances are you won’t mind a little chill in the air either. Let the tourists line up for the over $20 lobster roll somewhere else—us locals can keep this one for ourselves.
269 Putnam Ave., Cambridge, 617-876-0451, aliveandkickinglobsters.com