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The Beach Plum in New Hampshire: Overflowing Fresh Lobster Rolls, Amazing New England Clam Chowder, 78 Ice Cream Flavors

Overflowing lobster roll from the Beach Plum in Epping, N.H.

The Beach Plum lobster roll.

Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article created on 2/26/2018.

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New England clam chowder, lobster rolls and bisque, fried seafood and ice cream epitomize the joys of a classic New England coastal summertime meal -- or any time of the year, for that matter.

The Beach Plum in coastal North Hampton and Portsmouth and inland Epping, N.H., seems to take that seafood shack concept to the next level, however, as evidenced by crowds of locals and travelers coming for some regional comfort food delights, as well as significant recognition from the media.

The accolades read like a "Best of New England" culinary resume. A New Hampshire Magazine poll of readers revealed The Beach Plum as earning the Best of New Hampshire for lobster rolls nine consecutive years starting in 2009. The annual Hampton Beach Seafood Festival has awarded The Beach Plum for best fried seafood, chowder, lobster bisque and, yes, lobster rolls. Taste Magazine billed the Beach Plum for "Best of Taste of the Seacoast" for many years, as well as New England Cable News and the Phantom Gourmet consistently recognizing the high level of quality from this beloved New Hampshire seafood shack. The list goes on and on and with respect to internet bandwidth, we'll just end this paragraph by saying, "You get the picture."

Lobster bisque from The Beach Plum in New Hampshire.
Lobster bisque from The Beach Plum. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.

At the peak of summer, an order is taken every 30 seconds at the North Hampton location -- and, overall, at the three locations, more than 300,000 customer orders are recorded in a year. Seventy percent of the off-season customers consist of locals and 50 percent during peak season. Eighty percent of the tourist trade comes from the Boston area, down to Connecticut and the New York City area.

Customers, ultimately, look for something far beyond an impressive list, or resume, and seek along with great food, some kind of meaningful connection. Good news: The Beach Plum, on many levels, comes across as the ultimate seafood shack with its appearance, service, atmosphere, cleaniness, comfort and, of course, delicious food. It almost seems like a rite of passage into a local seafood shack experience. As good as many of the local seafood shacks are, it's rare to find one that operates efficiently and consistently on all levels. The Beach Plum, fortunately, comes closest to perfection in those important categories.
Bob Lee, co-owner of The Beach Plum with wife Nancy Lee, was born and raised by the New Hampshire coast and still resides there today. He is a former investment specialist who took his award-winning ways in that field to The Beach Plum starting in 1992. While laid back and very friendly, Lee is also intense and studied when it comes to business and of the mindset to do things better than the competition -- not just in words, but in action.

Bob Lee, owner of the Beach Plum in New Hampshire, and Lorraine Petrini, director of marketing
Bob Lee, owner, and Lorraine Petrini, director of marketing at The Beach Plum.

Case-in-point: Lee prefers sourcing hard shell lobster as he firmly believes this version yields a better tasting, more developed lobster that is richer in protein.  The result at all three Beach Plum locations: a spectacular, mouthwatering lobster roll with tender lobster -- overflowing out of the lightly toasted, buttered bun -- that I feel is the best lobster roll in New England (served with tasty Wachusett Potato Chips). But it is not just the sourcing, but also the preparation that makes this lobster roll a local treasure. For starters, The Beach Plum puts more lobster in its lobster roll than any other we've experienced, to date, so no matter what size -- five, six, eight or 10 oz. -- customers are definitely getting their money's worth (there's just a touch of mayo, and no fillers). Add a cup of delicious New England clam chowder or lobster bisque, and ice cream, and you have a complete, quintessential summertime meal

"We take the very best of lobsters," said Lee, of the sourcing. "We treat it like a good steak. Competitors mostly buy the soft shell lobster. and then fill it with things like lettuce, tomato, peppers, onions, and more mayo.  It might keep the cost down, but you are not getting as much real lobster. Here, we have no fillers and much more meat coming from the hard shell. It tastes better, too."

One doesn't have to enjoy seafood, though, to love The Beach Plum as they also serve a wide variety of rolls, wraps, subs, sandwiches, chili and hot dogs.

While many other family-style dining places offer, typically, 24 to 48 Richardson's ice cream flavors, The Beach Plum serves 78. Whether hard serve, soft serve or frozen yogurt, sherbet or sorbet, it's an astonishing selection of frozen treats brought in from a beloved ice cream business based in Middletown, Mass.

Yummy ice cream from the Beach Plum in North Hampton, New Hampshire
Richardson's ice cream is served at The Beach Plum. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.

Mouthwatering sundae from the Beach Plum in North Hampton, N.H.
Ice cream sundae from The Beach Plum. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.

"Ice cream is important to us," said Lee. "People love the ice cream choices here and, for us, it takes the peaks and valleys out of the business. We do a good business for lunch and then at 1:30, the ice cream sales pick up. At 5:00, it drops but then it is time for dinner."

Another appealing aspect of The Beach Plum: They hire very nice people through a thorough hiring process. From experienced managers to the younger generations employed, service is consistently attentive, quick and responsive. Some other seafood shacks I have been to recently have not only deteriorated in their appearances, but also in customer service -- sometimes to the point of listlessness and apathy. It's nice to see such genuine people wanting to help the customer at The Beach Plum.

"We have some very nice people working here," said Lorraine Petrini, director of marketing. "It is really a great place to work. I really enjoy working here."

Beach Plum staff at North Hampton, N.H.
Beach Plum staff. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.

Without further ado, let's take a look at all three locations and their similarities and differences...


Beach Plum seafood shack in North Hampton, N.H.
The Beach Plum in North Hampton. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.

Given its idyllic setting and long-time presence, the seasonal, flagship North Hampton location probably is probably most near and dear to the hearts of customers with its old-time classic seafood shack look. Diners can enjoy eating outside at shaded picnic tables across from beautiful North Hampton state beach, or at the adjacent seawall or sandy beach. This experience is definitely part of the unmistakable essence of a New England summer by the sea with the bustling nature of a no-frills but welcoming seafood shack serving chowder and lobster rolls, the salt sea air, the tall trees swaying in the breeze, scenic ocean views across the street, and laid-back coastal feel. The Beach Plum in North Hampton is also just a 10-minute ride to Hampton Beach -- a famous, lively beach town with a beautiful, expansive ocean beach, arcades, a nice boardwalk and a classic honky-tonk vibe.

Back to The Beach Plum: Along with the lobster rolls, lobster bisque, New England clam chowder and ice cream, other favorites at the North Hampton destination include lobster seafood chowder, fish chowder, hot dogs, chili, corn chowder, salads rolls, wraps, subs and sandwiches (try the haddock sandwich with the legendary "Whale's Tail" -- see picture below).

Beach Plum Haddock sandwich - North Hampton, N.H.
Fried haddock sandwich with fries from The Beach Plum. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.

New England clam chowder from the Beach Plum in North Hampton, N.H.
New England clam chowder from The Beach Plum. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.

Lobster roll from the Beach Plum in North Hampton, N.H.
Lobster roll from The Beach Plum.

While the North Hampton location provides a storybook-like coastal New England seafood shack dining experience, the other locations also share The Beach Plum's excellence in different and more often comprehensive ways in regards to the menu offerings...


Beach Plum in Portsmouth, N.H.
The Beach Plum in Portsmouth. Photo credit: the Beach Plum.

The Beach Plum in Portsmouth and Epping, both open year-round, carry some of the same menu items as the North Hampton location (to view all three menus, click here), but also feature fresh ground Angus burgers and mammoth fried and baked seafood meals that come with fries, cole slaw and a roll. They also feature wine and beer selections. Portsmouth sports an outdoor deck (as seen above) and a spotless, sunny inside dining area with pine picnic benches and huge picture windows...

Seating at the Beach Plum in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Dining room at the Beach Plum in Portsmouth. Photo credit: the Beach Plum.

Portsmouth also happens to be one of New England's most charming small cities with a very walkable downtown featuring locally-owned shops, parks, a vibrant dining scene with restaurants of virtually all ethnicities, views of the harbor, and the famed Strawbery Banke -- a spectacular outdoor living museum consisting of 32 beautifully maintained old homes and 10 exquisite gardens. Located near Hampton Beach, the southern Maine coast and the North Shore of Massachusetts, Portsmouth, for many, is the go-to place in this region for big city amenities, albeit in a small town setting.

Downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Downtown Portsmouth, N.H.

The Beach Plum in Portsmouth is about a 15-minute ride to York Beach, Maine, one of the most popular coastal destinations in New England. York Beach features two outstanding beaches (Short Sands and Long Sands), arcades, an amusement park and zoo, the iconic Nubble Lighthouse and many good-to-excellent dining options. I would still opt for the food at the Beach Plum, however. The lobster roll and chowder have a lot to do with that preference, as I haven't found any similar dining out spots in York Beach as good as The Beach Plum.

Short Sands Beach, York Beach, Maine
Short Sands Beach, York Beach, Maine.

Although it is not situated in the downtown Portsmouth district where most of the most heralded restaurants reside, The Beach Plum, to me, is an important part of that vibrant, often outstanding Portsmouth dining scene. Let's face it, though, many locals and visitors -- especially families -- want large servings of comfort foods with good value for the money instead of high-priced food in smaller portions. This fried clam plate with a glass of beer drives home that point...

Fried clam plate with beer from the Beach Plum in Portsmouth, N.H.
Fried clams and beer from The Beach Plum in Portsmouth. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.

The Epping Beach Plum is located at the intersection of Routes 101 and 125 -- one of the most heavily driven sections in New Hampshire. Not a tourist destination, Epping has more of a working class, suburban-meets-rural vibe. It's not too far from Manchester -- New Hampshire's largest city -- and beautiful Exeter, home of Phillips Exeter Academy and one of the most pleasant, interesting downtown districts in New England.

Downtown Exeter, N.H.

Downtown Exeter, N.H.

The Beach Plum in Epping has a modern look similar to Portsmouth with the patented purple and white exterior sign and an expansive dining room with high ceilings and a lighted menu board above the order counter that is one of the longest displays we have seen in the six-state region...

Beach Plum, Epping, New Hampshire
The Beach Plum in Epping.

Beach Plum in Epping, New Hampshire
Dining section and order counter at the Beach Plum in Epping.

The Epping location also offers a large outdoor deck and is located within an impressive shopping center that includes stores like the New Hampshire State Liquor Store, Market Basket, Marshalls, Petsmart, Michael's and O'Neil Cinemas.

I recently had a lobster roll (do you detect a pattern here?) with onion rings and freshly squeezed lemonade at the Epping Beach Plum... yum!

Beach Plum lobster roll and freshly squeezed lemonade
Lobster roll and lemonade from The Beach Plum in Epping.

Onion rings from the Beach Plum in Epping, N.H.
Onion rings from The Beach Plum in Epping.


The Beach Plum ultimately takes on the standardization of a quality chain restaurant with the personal touch of a real, authentic seafood shack. The Lees have clearly mastered the art of creating the height of classic seafood comfort foods and landlubber favorites. They have also perfected the science of running a successful dining out spot, while realizing there is no margin for error when serving the public. The New England coast features some of the very best seafood shacks in the United States and customer allegiance can shift from one place to another in a hurry -- often based on the last dining experience.  That The Beach Plum has an exceptionally high rate of return customers speaks volumes of the integrity and overall excellence of their three businesses.

Scallop salad from the Beach Plum in North Hampton, NH.
Garden scallop salad from The Beach Plum. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.

"We especially see a lot of families and retirees," said Lee, of the customer base at The Beach Plum. "We try to look at all of our menus and be practical and pragmatic to the customer... People love coming here. We can go through over a 1,000 pounds of lobster meat in a day during peak season."

Call it "claw and order" at the highest level!

Lobster roll, chips and beer from the Beach Plum in North Hampton, N.H.
Lobster roll, chips and beer from The Beach Plum. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.

The Beach Plum in North Hampton is located at 17 Ocean Blvd. on Route 1A across from the North Hampton State Beach. Tel.  603-964-7451. Reopening for the season April 2018. The Beach Plum in Portsmouth is located at 2800 Lafayette Blvd. on Route 1. Tel. 603-433-3339. The Beach Plum in Epping is located at the Brickyard Square Shopping Center, 24 NH 125. Tel. 603-679-3200. Web sites:,,

The Beach Plum social media links

Also, please view these videos on The Beach Plum
Phantom Gourmet
New England Cable News (NECN) Recognizes Beach Plum for Best Local Lobster Roll
NECN's TV Diner

Last but not least, some Beach Plum promotions...

Beach Plum promo, at this classic New Hampshire seafood shack

Beach Plum New Hampshire promo

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Related article:
What it's like to dine at the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley, Mass.

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