Just in time for the warmer weather, Zagat editor Jacqueline Wasilczyk visited Luke's Lobster and newcomer The Claw, two restaurants serving versions of the iconic New England lobster roll.
Quickly established as a city favorite, Luke’s Lobster on the Upper West Side started in 2009 after the Maine-raised New York transplant Luke Holden discovered there was nowhere to find affordable lobster rolls in the city.
"One day I was jonesing for a lobster roll and realized that most of them were being served in a traditional white tablecloth high-end restaurant setting at a pretty high price," says Holden.
As far as how they serve it, co-owner Ben Conniff adds, "Our lobster is cooked up in Maine in Luke's father's seafood company and it immediately gets wrapped up and sent to us. We take a New England-style bun, butter the outside, toast it on a panini grill, take it off, open it up, squeeze a tiny bit of mayonnaise on the inside, then load it up with fresh lobster meat, squirt a little bit of lemon butter, shake a bit of a secret spice on top, and that's it."
A relative newcomer, The Claw opened five months ago in Chelsea and has recently expanded to Hell’s Kitchen, where chef-owner Joseph Miller hopes residents take to his version of the classic.
"When we make our lobster roll here at The Claw we take our fresh Maine lobster, we steam it in house, dress it with light mayo, a little butter, white pepper and then we top it on a toasted potato roll," Miller says.
Regular shipments from Maine helps to ensure the ingredients' freshness, while choosing to cook and break the lobster down in-house gives the restaurant a high-level of consistency.
"We serve the lobster warm because we feel it gives a better flavor profile and it accents the butter," Miller says. "Our lobster is served on a toasted potato bun because we feel it has a sweeter flavor profile than a standard, traditional split top."
For other information on lobster rolls and other restaurant stories, visit blog.zagat.com.