Patrons savor food, casual air at Perry’s lobster shack

Perry's lobster shack in Surry

Perry’s Lobster Shack overlooks Union River Bay, where diners gather for lunch and dinner. PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER

Any seasoned “bug” eater will tell you the only way to eat lobster is “in the rough” — down and dirty, the juice splattering in every direction when you crack those claws.

One such place to do it is at a lobster “shack” like Perry’s overlooking Union River Bay at 1076 Newbury Neck Road in Surry.

Perry and Bev Long have been cooking and serving lobster, lobster and crab rolls, corn on the cob, steamed clams and mussels and coleslaw in their dining room — a dock with a drop dead gorgeous view of Mount Desert Island — since 1998.

“We bought the property in 1992 and in 1998 began wholesaling for fishermen,” said Perry. “People asked if they could cook a lobster and then used old lobster crates for chairs.”

Picnic tables with umbrellas have replaced the crates. When combined with onshore seating, Perry’s Lobster Shack can accommodate about 60.

“Every year it grows,” added Perry, who has never advertised his business.

Perry’s got its start from its source, a dock where lobstermen unloaded their catch. PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER

Perry’s got its start from its source, a dock where lobstermen unloaded their catch.

Noelle Spurling of Ellsworth, and her boyfriend, are great fans of the place and eat there about a dozen times over the course of the summer and fall.

Spurling, the baker who makes the soups, salads and gourmet sandwiches at John Edwards Market in Ellsworth, said she first found out about Perry’s five years ago.

“The thing I really like about Perry’s is that you can make a salad and show up at the dock and get a lobster,” she said. “It’s very casual. It blends in with the scenery really nicely. And it never changes. That’s probably why I like it.”

The couple usually order lobster rolls and steamers (clams) and they often bring their dogs.

“They don’t care,” Spurling said.

Joel Frantzman of Sullivan brought his daughter, Julia Diaz, and her husband and two sons when they were visiting from Washington, D.C.

“She was totally entranced,” he said. “She thinks it’s the nicest spot on the coast of Maine.”

Frantzman is very fond of Perry’s all on his own.

“It’s just a really romantic place to sit out on that dock and look at the sunset,” he said. “The service is great and Perry himself is a really delightful man.”

For more adventuresome eaters, the menu also includes crabmeat dip with crackers, dried fish and that quintessential Maine delicacy, pickled wrinkles.

Finish the meal off with an assortment of Mortons Moo’s ice creams and homemade blueberry pie a la mode.

Is the seafood fresh?

Diners who appear at the dock earlier in the day — it opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. or when the last morsel has been swallowed — will see a lobster boat pull up with that day’s catch.

The lobsters are in a seawater limbo until they meet their fate.

It’s strictly bring-your-own-booze, and corkscrew, and stemware, too, if you don’t like paper cups.

Perry said he has been in the seafood business since he was a 5-year-old helping his grandfather with his crabmeat picking business, the old Andrew’s Crabmeat, in Town Hill.

“I learned the way to cook seafood,” he said. “A lot of people overcook it.”

The lobster shack is about 3.5 miles from the left turn off Route 172.

They take checks and cash only, no credit cards.

Perry’s is open mid-June through Columbus Day weekend.

And a car is optional. Some diners pull right up to the dock in their boat.

Spurling, the cook from John Edwards, said sometimes she and her boyfriend arrive by water.

“You can take a boat from the Ellsworth boat launch right in town and it’s pretty much a direct line,” she said.

Jacqueline's beat covers the eastern Hancock County towns of Lamoine through Gouldsboro as well as Steuben in Washington County. She was a reporter for the New York Times, United Press International and Reuters before moving to Maine. She also publicized medical research at Yale School of Medicine and scientific findings at Yale University for nine years.[email protected]