One advantage of lobster rolls is that no one can dismiss them as the next burger/pizza/fried chicken: everyone already said that a couple years ago when Ed’s Lobster opened. Defying food trendiness, lobster rolls have remained popular and even inspired an online frenzy when Luke’s Lobster opened last week. Why? Because when well made, lobster rolls are darn good – and provide some justification for living up nahth, as they’d say in Maine.
Started by 25-year-old Maine native Luke Holden, Luke’s Lobster adds some interesting new elements to the New York lobster roll scene. For one thing, it’s a comparative bargain: it’s hard to find a $14 8-ounce lobster roll much, much closer to the source. (In Chatham, MA, the same size lobster roll was about $20.) At Luke’s, you can also get a 4-ounce one for $8. Luke’s roll comes piled with claws and tail meat in large chunks, not mysterious shredded bits. It’s also the first deconstructed lobster roll I’ve come across: they’ve taken the mayonnaise out of the lobster salad and just smeared it on the bun instead, sprinkling the lump lobster meat with a scant amount of custom spice mix – I picked up celery salt, a touch of cayenne, sea salt and pepper.
Whether or not you like your mayo separate from your lobster is a matter of personal taste, but it lends itself to more customization – you can even leave the mayo out if you want. They get the bun exactly right: Restaurant supply hot dog rolls, split and griddled.
The interior design leaves something to be desired. A Gordon’s Fisherman suit tacked to the wall doesn’t even count as design in New England clam shacks. But at least it doesn’t encourage lingering by other customers, so last week I was in and out of there for lunch in 15 minutes – the lobster roll came out of the kitchen almost immediately. Plus – important news! – Luke’s Lobster is open until 2am Thursday through Saturday. So if you want gourmet munchies after an East Village bar crawl, you know where to go.
93 East Seventh Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A