Shut up Andrew, let’s get into this already, damn
Despite a growing apprehension that I won’t be able to get to each and every recommended spot and do all my new crustacean-crushing Internet friends proud, The Quest is underway nonetheless. I’m going to places that have great reputations, places I’ve researched, places that come recommended, and I’m hoping to luck into some places along the way. The first batch is a mix of all these things and they’re all in NYC.
Current rank: No. 1
At one point right after the recession, the owners of Red Hook Lobster Pound, Ralph Gorham and Susan Povich, were considering turning the building where they founded the cornerstone of their burgeoning crustacean empire into rental apartments. Thank God they didn’t, because first off, you can’t eat an apartment, regardless of how much mayo you cover it in, and second, they make a damn good lobster roll.
I stopped into their kind-of-hidden-unless-you-look-for-it space down Extra Place alley off Bowery for the much-lauded roll. They’ve actually got a couple variations, including CT (butter) and Tuscan (uhhh... vinaigrette), which will be explored/eaten at a later date, but for now I went classic. Maine style.
They use only claw and knuckle (the knuckle is really more of an elbow though tbh), because while the tail is the most coveted piece of any whole-lobster meal, the knuckle and claw are sweeter, more tender, and better suited to rolling. I tend to agree, though I’m not a proselytizer on the subject just yet.
The roll here was amply stuffed with the sweetness, tossed in a very light amount of homemade mayo with a hint of lemon, topped with enough sliced scallion to add a little flavor (but not overpower anything), dotted with celery, and mounded on a bed of texture-adding shredded lettuce. Very simple, very well executed, very solid.
Early on, when discussing this project, I made a prediction that a lot of these rolls would come down to the bun, it’s one of the easiest parts of the process to mess up. The bun here is great. A buttery split-top hot dog bun, griddled just enough to retain firmness, it was a near-perfect shellfish delivery system.
The only knock here, and frankly this is a problem with the whole genre and me being 6’6’’, is that I ate it insanely quickly and immediately wanted another. For $16 there are worse places on this list to have that feeling though. This place has frontrunner status.