Lobster rolls are all the rage with the rise of boutique seafood restaurants all over the city. Many of my favorite seafood restaurants, including Mermaid Inn, Mermaid Oyster Bar, and Flex Mussels all have a delicious lobster roll on their menus. One thing in common about these restaurants is that they are all energetic, hip, and socially engaged, perhaps due to the age of their management, and target demographic. Therefore, when Bloomberg food critic Ryan Sutton rated some of the best lobster rolls early this summer, the Twitter flame-war among supporters of different restaurants was dubbed “Lobster-gate”.
While I do not believe in Mr. Sutton’s review and harsh words, it made me realize once again the joy of being in New York. We truly are surrounded by a staggering number of great dining options. So I put aside the favoritism, and decided to try them all.
Now I also must admit I did not make a trip just to get myself a Lobster roll, my journey to the Upper East Side was supposed to end at the new Shake Shack UES. Despite my tremendous hunger, the line instantly killed my appetite for a burger. A small detour brought me to Luke’s Lobster, where there was a short line that was moving at a brisk pace.
Having never been to Luke’s Lobster or read anything beyond Mr. Sutton’s review, I had no idea what I was in for. All the other seafood places I frequented were sit down restaurants. Interestingly enough, this seemed like the crustacean version of Shake Shack, and everyone was here for the lobster rolls.
We opted for the Noah’s Ark, which is a sampler containing two of everything great on the menu, a perfect way to order for 2 people (There is also a version for one called “The Taste of Maine”). The meal comes with two half lobster rolls, two half crab rolls, two half shrimp rolls, two pairs of empress crab claws, two sodas, and two bags of chips.
I started off with the shrimp roll, which was fantastic. The texture and taste of the shrimp tasted great when accompanied by the buttered roll. Next came the crab roll (saving the lobster for last). Where the shrimp wins in texture, the crab meat trumps it completely with intense flavor.
Finally, the grand event: lobster roll. I’m not going to judge whether this roll was better than the rolls at other restaurants, since taste, as I always remind everyone, is subjective. All I can say is, this was damn good, as good as any other roll I’ve had in New York.
As I sat there finishing the other parts of my meal, I listened to our neighboring diners, who were also at Luke’s because of “Shake Shack Spillover”. Next time you’re in the Upper East Side in need of delicious food, skip the line at Shake Shack and head to Luke’s.
Photos taken with iPhone4
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Luke’s Lobster UES
242 E 81st St
New York, NY 10028