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Pictured: Cutline: The Maine lobster roll at Speaks Clam Bar in Lakewood Ranch is served cold on an authentic New England-style roll. Photo taken by Kevin Allen.

This summer, my wife and I celebrated our tenth anniversary with a trip to Maine. Upon learning this, several friends and family members asked, “Why Maine?” Those who have been there understand. Maine is a utopia for the food obsessed and the beer-nerd lot, and I am both.

That trip to Maine, still fresh in our minds, was the first thing I thought about when my wife suggested we try Speak’s Clam Bar in Lakewood Ranch. A favorite takeout destination during the height of the pandemic in 2020, we had gotten so used to it being one of our favorite takeout options that we never actually dined in there.

That all changed Saturday night when I knew exactly what I wanted to order before my keister hit the seat at the table: The Maine lobster roll. Its decadence is in its simplicity. A generous portion of cold water lobster knuckle meat is very lightly dressed, tossed with celery, sparse herbs and spices, and placed atop a traditional New England roll. It was a textbook Maine lobster roll, served cold with a generous portion of French fries.

Each bite brought back another memory of that trip: hiking Acadia National Park, a beer-laden train tour around Portland, bar hopping in Bar Harbor, and the curious groundhog I befriended on our hotel grounds (did I feed them my stash of dried blueberries? Perhaps I did, dear reader.).

So, how did it stack up against the lobster rolls I ate in Maine? I won’t say it was better, because nothing beats a vacation meal, but if you served this version on the wharf overlooking Casco Bay, it would delight even the most rugged of lobstermen.

Speak’s in Lakewood Ranch (there’s another location on St. Armand’s Circle) was slammed on Saturday. It was so great to see that high quality food and great service are still rewarded here, even on a holiday weekend when so many of my fellow Ranchers were skipping town. Even with the restaurant buzzing, the service — from the hostess’ warm greeting to our server Tristan’s expertise on the entire food and beverage menu — was excellent.

It may not have been a vacation meal for us, but if a local food scene is judged by its diversity and quality of offerings, then places like Speak’s are a crucial piece of what makes ours so incredible.

Speak’s Clam Bar - Lakewood Ranch, 8764 State Road 70 E, Lakewood Ranch. 941- 232-7646.

Pictured: Cutline: The Maine lobster roll at Speaks Clam Bar in Lakewood Ranch is served cold on an authentic New England-style roll. Photo taken by Kevin Allen.

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