The smell of salt in the air makes us crave seafood, the reasoning for countless marina-side restaurants along the Eastern seaboard. It seems that because you’re by the water, it’s reason enough to consume a steamed Maine lobster, some oysters from the Long Island Sound, crabs from Chesapeake Bay, shrimp from the gulf coast, and sea bass from Chile.
Fact is, the days of restaurants buying seafood from local fisherman are long over, replaced by specialized food distributors. Consumers have also been spoiled by choices, so just having your local variety of oysters can no longer satiate our tastes. The ocean gives us a feeling that the foods are fresher, when in reality maybe just a couple ingredients are. The rest made their journey in climate controlled, petroleum burning vehicles.
What that also means is that you can get top notch, fresh and delicious seafood within New York City. In fact, being one of the largest seafood distribution centers, chances are the lobsters you consume here, shipped from Maine, could actually be fresher than lobsters in coastal Connecticut. Go figure.
Human nature wired into our brains as kids tell us lobsters are better near the ocean. I suppose Red Hook is close enough to water for this primary instinct to kick into effect.
Located not too far from Ikea, we found that the Lobster Pound is as much of a destination for New Yorkers from other boroughs as the Swedish furniture store. Every few minutes, a car would park across the street and people would stream into the restaurant. Lobsters are stored in two massive water tanks, conveniently placed near the entrance for people to open the lid and gawk.
Most people come for the lobster rolls, which are served on a lightly buttered bun and offered in Maine and Connecticut styles. You really cannot go wrong with either one, the choice would be a personal preference, or whatever seems to suit the weather better.
For meals that are less suitable to go, such as the lobster dinner, take the trey of food next door for the sitting and dining area. Here you’ll find tables, bibs, utensils, and a slight bummer, no bathroom to wash your crustacean scented hands when you’re done.
The lobster dinner is fairly standard. Steamed lobster, coleslaw, and steamed corn on cob. As your food was alive mere minutes ago, and steamed rapidly for your consumption, it’s as fresh as it gets. My lobster had a awfully hard shell, which made it a challenge, but the struggle and slight splatter was all worth it.
There are other places with lobsters in the city, Luke’s serves a more refined lobster roll, but seafood on 3rd Ave just doesn’t feel as good as seafood in Red Hook. As I explained in the beginning, it’s irrational, but for what its worth, it made the meal memorable.
From the notebook: The sitting and eating area next door is BYOB, the restaurant only serves craft-soda. If you do not wish to stain your steering wheel with your lobster scented hands, go to the laundromat next door to borrow the restroom. There’s a food truck bearing the same name roaming the city, for info follow @LobsterTruckNY.
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The Red Hook Lobster Pound
284 Van Brunt St
Brooklyn, NY 11231