With no ocean in less than 1,000 miles, Denver is often mislabeled as a town with poor seafood — especially by coastal transplants with a taste for the finer things. Even with trusted institutions in town with a reputation for freshness, new spots can often be met with suspicion or a dash of skepticism.
However, that’s not the case for Maineiac Lobster Company. This newcomer took second place for “Best Menu” at last year’s Taste of Colorado —selling fish out of the window of a truck. Owned and operated by John Dean — who arrived in Colorado in 2016 — the mobile purveyor of serious coastal fare delivers cuisine certified by a man who gathered his culinary chops in Biddeford Pool, Maine. The food is unquestionably the real deal.
One of Maineiac’s major selling points is Dean’s deep commitment to the fundamentals. The menu is straightforward and the recipes classic. The lobster roll ($22) is a Maine-style cold roll stuffed to the gills with a heavy portion of lobster salad with shaved white onion, thinly diced celery, lemon and paprika. While the price tag is admittedly steep, Dean is quick to point out that he is selling a luxury item, paper plate or otherwise. Additionally, or perhaps most importantly, the lobster is flown in fresh, arriving the day-of any event or outing that the 27-foot former FedEx truck may have. Properly packaged and sent by Portland, Maine-based Inland Seafood, the lobster has all the qualities you’d expect from a product that has never been frozen.
The lobster mac & cheese ($12) blends cheddar, gruyere and brie with a healthy dose of the succulent crustacean — sumptuous comfort food at its very finest. The crab cake sliders ($8/per) are crispy yet delicate, having been deep-fried to perfection. Tossed on a bun with homemade remoulade, the sandwich — made with equally fresh rock crab — is perfect in both flavor and texture. Pair a couple with an order of fries ($5) and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more genuine meal west of Augusta.
Painted by children’s book illustrator Bridget Taylor, the highly recognizable truck’s bold color scheme is attractive in its simplicity. Having debuted on Halloween 2016 at Alpine Dog, Maineiac initially served primarily at many of the other breweries around town. Beginning this year, Dean intends to focus more on private events and larger festivals — rightly figuring that his food is the ideal alternative to traditional catering — though he does intend to be a recurring fixture at Jazz in the Park and Civic Center. Unfortunately, due to the seasonal nature of the lobster processing season, we are going to have to wait until May for Maineiac to once again fire up its engines, but if you already know this is right up your alley catering inquiries can be sent to [email protected].
All Photography by Alden Bonecutter.