February 15, 2011
Let’s talk lobster rolls.
Before visiting the East Coast, I had no idea what a lobster roll was. I had never even heard about lobster rolls. It’s originally a New England-y food (due to the abundance of lobster out there?) and is, very simply, lobster meat stuffed inside a roll.
Get it? Lobster meat + roll = Lobster roll.
I think I’ve eaten more lobster in the past four months than I had in the year prior, solely because of the number of lobster rolls I’ve inhaled since moving to NYC. There are quite a number of places in Manhattan and Brooklyn that specialize in these babies, but here are two of my favorites if you’re around the area:
Red Hook Lobster Pound
Out of all the lobster roll places in and around NYC, Red Hook currently reigns supreme for me. It’s a trek to Red Hook from my little apartment in Hell’s Kitchen but it’s worth it. As soon as you walk in, you’re smacked in the face with the aroma of melted butter…If that isn’t a good sign, I don’t know what is.
Red Hook Lobster Pound serves two different types of lobster rolls: the Maine and the Connecticut. The Maine is a cold lobster roll with mayo; the Connecticut is a hot roll with butter.
(…mayo is nice…)
The Maine roll is great because the mayo flavor isn’t overpowering; there’s just enough to make it a savory bundle of goodness but not so much that you feel like you’re eating a heavy lobster salad. However, I’m personally not a huge fan of the temperature of the roll – it’s a personal preference and I just don’t like cold lobster.
(…but butter is always better…)
On the flipside of the Maine is the Connecticut, which I think is the hands down winner between the two. A warm, toasty roll soaks all the dripping melted butter and the lobster meat just tastes sweeter than its mayo-covered counterpart.
Note: Although the lobster rolls at Red Hook are not to be missed, feel free to pass on the lobster bisque. Not creamy enough for a satisfyingly thick bisque, not flavorful enough for a rich broth, the soup falls a bit flat. It does come with huge chunks of lobster meat floating in it but if you’re looking for meat, you might as well order another roll.
Luke’s Lobster holds a place in my heart as my first lobster roll ever. It also happens to be the best place in the city to go when you want a lobster roll.
Luke’s only serves one type of lobster roll - a chilled one with butter and a swipe of mayo on the roll itself rather than mixed with the lobster - but also has crab and shrimp rolls (similar concept, different shellfish). If you want to try all three, their taste of Maine platter solves that problem. (As you can see in the picture below, the sandwiches are small though and only good for a bite or two.)
For me, Luke’s rolls come second to Red Hook because, somehow, the lobster in their rolls are not sweet as Red Hook’s Connecticut or as savory as the Maine. To tell you the truth, the first time I went, I actually preferred the shrimp roll to the lobster one. (I know – blasphemy, right?) However, with three locations in the city, it’s the most convenient way of satisfying your lobster roll fix.
Note: If you go to Luke’s during the holiday season, order a pumpkin pie soda if it’s available. If you love pumpkin pie, this deliciously bubbly beverage has those same hints of all-spice that you’ll love. (Sadly, it’s a seasonal drink – I haven’t been able to find since last year!)