Luke, Your Lobstah’s OK With Me
Last night, my good friend from high school, Zoe of Zoe Has Appetite, and I checked out the opening of Luke’s Lobster in the East Village. A diminuitive hole in the wall just off the restaurant row of 1st Avenue, Luke’s offers up quick, cheap and fresh seafood, chips, fruit soda, and essentially no seating. With room for just 8-10 diners to perch on bar stools, Luke’s is tiny.
The emphasis here is 100% on speed and quality. Despite throngs of people, Zoe and I got our food in under 10 minutes. It wasn’t served prettily, thrown in a cardboard ‘lunch box’ and wrapped in tin foil, but it was definitely quick.
Now, to what you’re really interested in, the lobster roll. Luke’s boasts the freshest lobster roll in the city for cheap. Cheap, it is. For $18, I got a large lobster roll, an empress crab claw, chips, and a drink. Is it the freshest lobster roll in the city? I predict fierce debate over this. While the roll played to all of my preferences re: lobster rolls, it did not play to all of Zoe’s. I enjoyed the cold lobster. It tasted as though it had just come out of the sea. Zoe though argued that she liked her lobster warmed a little with hot butter. She thought it was a little bland and under-seasoned; I felt like the purposeful lack of seasoning brought out the true flavor of the lobster meat. Both of us agreed though that as promised, Luke’s lobster rolls were wondrously free of mayo, celery, and other distracting additions often packed into lobster rolls. And, the roll was perfect – toasted (though not so warm…) and buttery, it packed enough crunch and sweet buttery flavor to satisfy my tastebuds.
Surprisingly, one of the highlights of my lunch box was the empress crab claw – immensely flavorful (though disappointingly small). It made me wish I had also gotten a crab roll…
All in all, Luke’s is a welcome addition to my rotation of quick eats. This lobster reminded me of home, of summers on Cape Cod enjoying unfussy seafood, of sunshine and the ocean. Unlike so many lobster rolls and sandwiches in this city, it offered me exactly what I wanted: pure and unadulterated lobster on a simple buttery bun. No fuss, no mess, no mayo.
And although the new restauranteurs have some kinks they need to work out (i.e. the chips are still in the large unsightly 30-bag variety pack box on the counter; the register seemed a bit…confusing; and a few customers seemed to get the wrong food), all mistakes are forgiven if I get to have more of this relatively under-priced fresh lobster.