Located at a dock from which lobster boats sail, Five Islands Lobster Company might be the most scenic restaurant in Maine. Dine at picnic tables on the wooden deck overlooking blue waters and, across the waves, five small islands tufted with pine trees.
Exactly how to get a meal at Five Islands can be a little confusing, nothing like a restaurant with waiters or even an eat-in-the-rough seafood shack. The first thing to do is go into the red clapboard building where a sign above the open door says “lobsters.” In here, confer with one of the chefs about the size you want – they’ll happily hoist ones out of the seawater tank for inspection. Let them know whether you want clams, corn, or potatoes thrown into the net and boiled alongside. You can buy a soft drink or bring your own wine or beer.
After arranging for dinner, leave the red building and find a picnic table or, if too hungry to wait foodless for the 20-25 minutes it takes for everything to boil, go next door and pick up an order of fried clams that are Ipswich-good, their briny marine essence encased in microthin crust. The menu also features lobster rolls, fish and chips, crab cakes, even hamburgers and hot dogs.
Years ago, a former owner of Five Islands explained to us that the lobsters here are so good because they come from the deepest and coldest water on the coast, meaning their meat is firm and radiant with clean marine flavor. They practically burst out of the shell when squeezed with a nutcracker; and juices dripping onto corn and potatoes add saltwater radiance to the whole meal.
Tranquility reigns when you look out at the islands in the distance, even when picnic tables are crowded with happy eaters chattering with the joy of their sleeves-up meal. As Jane and I devoured our shore dinners, savoring the beautiful scene every bit as much as the food, a fishing boat glided into the harbor and tied up at the wharf a few yards from our table. We ate Maine blueberry cake while watching two lobstermen offload crates full of lobsters just trapped in the deep.
Note that Five Islands is closed on Wednesdays.