I lived in NYC for many years and love(d) the (mayo-style) lobster rolls at Pearl Oyster Bar and Mary's Fish Camp - big chunks of lobster meat in a simple-seeming mayo-based dressing on buttery toasted hot-dog buns. Rebecca Charles (chef at Pearl) has published her lobster-roll recipe and I've used that recipe (lobster, mayo, celery, lemon juice, salt+pepper for the filling, served in Pepperidge Farm top-loading rolls toasted in a buttered skillet) as the basis for many attempts to replicate the restaurant lobster rolls I crave. The ones I make don't even come close. Which is to say: it tastes as though I did the recipe "right" but the final product is just much less delicious than what I'm aiming for.
The other day my wife and I were in Manhattan and we went to Mary's Fish Camp. The lobster roll was insanely good, and as usual the predominant flavor was of sweet, faintly briny lobster meat. My homemade rolls just tend to taste drab.
I've experimented in lots of different ways with the sauce, and with my cooking method for the lobsters. I've learned how to keep the meat from getting waterlogged, how to avoid overcooking the lobster, how to toast the rolls to perfect butteriness, how to get a meat-to-sauce ration that seems correct. But my total product is still essentially lame. At this point my best guess is that the lobsters I'm able to get - even when I get live ones from the fish market - just don't taste as good as the ones that buyers for high-end NYC restaurants get. Which is a depressing conclusion because it means I should just give up and accept the fact that the only way for me to get a really great lobster roll is to travel across state lines and drop a ton of money on lunch.
But if anyone can offer an alternative explanation (super-secret lobster-cooking techniques? Secret ingredients?), I'd love to read it.