Lobster Rolls: I'm on the hunt, I'm after you...
It's hard to believe that back in the early days of America, tasty, tasty lobsters were so plentiful and commonplace that they were considered "garbage food" reserved for only the "poor" townsfolk and servants, or fed to animals and to prisoners in the local jails. Can you believe that?
Our family loves lobster. Jason and I always have, but it wasn't until our trip to new England in the Fall of 2014 that Sarah finally realized just how delicious these clawed crustaceans were. We had gone to a small dive of a place on the docks in Portland, Maine, J's Oyster Bar (read about them on Yelp HERE) and I ordered a bowl of their Lobster Stew. Jason had some lobster and Sarah ordered a Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich.
Yes, in a dive bar restaurant in Maine, MY child orders a flippin' Chicken Sandwich. I thought my head would explode. How could she not want Lobster? We were in the heart of claw and tail country and she picks the most non-seafoody item on the menu. Once she tried a bit of my Lobster Stew, you could see the fog being lifted from her eyes. Pandora's Box was now opened. She ate her first Lobster Roll when we stopped by to see some family in Amesbury, Mass. When we stopped in Salem for a few days, she ordered a full size lobster dinner and ate it all. She finally saw the light.
Ever since then, we've gone out of our way to try different lobster rolls. Sometimes I make them at home, as we have a great fresh seafood market here in Melbourne, Florida (Direct Seafood Outlet) that brings in fresh packages of tail and claw meat and sells the buns, so we can make about 6 rolls for under $40. Cheaper than going out to dinner! We've tried the rolls at a couple of different food trucks in our area (Cousins Lobster & Monsta Lobsta) and usually if we are in a coastal area, we try out their lobster roll offerings (like we did HERE while in Seattle). It was only natural that while in Miami we did the same.
While searching out different restaurants to try, yes, I realize that in Miami we should be trying out a local restaurant with Cuban or Puerto Rican flavor or something like that, but we are creatures of habit at times, so we headed down to the Lobster Shack. Located on South Pointe Drive, it's on the bottom floor of a high rise building and parking is at a premium. there is no designated lot for this business, as there are a few other restaurants and bars in the same building so it is all off street parking. We were able to find parking in a lot off Washington Avenue across from Joe's Crab Shack and we took full advantage of the gorgeous weather to walk the short distance to the restaurant.
I liked the menu and the different choices for the lobster rolls were a bit intriguing. In addition to the rolls, they had seafood tacos available as well as hot seafood dishes such as steamed whole lobsters and crab dinners, plus the usual traditional soup offerings of New England Clam Chowder and Lobster Bisque. The three of us ordered the following: for Sarah, the Classic Lobster Roll & the Bisque; I had the South Beach Lobster Roll and New England Clam Chowder. Jason decided to try the Seared Tuna Taco and a Lobster Taco.
It is strictly counter service here and there is seating both inside and out, but since it was so nice temperature wise outside with the breeze, we decided to dine al fresco and enjoy our first evening in Miami. Our food was brought out to us very quickly and after I took the required photos of our food, we dug in. Seriously we were famished.
Jason's tacos were scarfed down within minutes and he really did enjoy them. The jalapeno slaw that comes on them added a subtle bit of heat and a crunchier texture to the contents of the taco, which gave what COULD have been a rather bland offering some more depth. And when I say that it could have been bland, I mean that with the somewhat uniform soft texture of both the lobster (or tuna) and the avocado, on a soft corn taco shell, it could have just wound up being a soft mess, but the slight crunch of the slaw added that needed oomph! Good call, Lobster Shack.
Sarah had a classic Lobster Roll and by the photo you can see that they definitely give you a decent amount of meat on what is a smaller size roll. Although not "naked" (which is just lobster tossed in melted butter...also known as a Connecticut Roll in some areas of the country) this classic roll was barely coated with mayonnaise, which can be a good thing to some people. There is nothing worse than a Lobster Roll that is just smothered in mayo. It kills the taste, but Sarah though this one to be a little TOO light. Remember that the mayo helps add just a tish of flavour while acting as a binding agent. Sort of like Lobster glue for the sandwich. It helps hold things together. Any lobster that fell out, she just added to her bisque, which she really liked. Me, not so much. I am used to a bisque that has some sherry in it, which I didn't taste at all. The tomato base, more so the acidity of it, was the first impact the soup made on my taste buds, rather than the smooth, creamy almost velvety taste and texture of a lobster bisque. Maybe it was a more South Florida or Carribean interpretation of this New England mainstay, but it just wasn't my bag. It reminded me of more of a Bahamian conch chowder.
I had the South Beach Lobster Roll and the New England Clam Chowder. The chowder wasn't bad...It was chunky, decent clams & potato to broth ratio, but it just didn't jump out at me as being anything to write home about. Maybe I am just a clam chowder snob. Growing up, my mom made an excellent new england style chowder and I learned to make it her way. A kick ass clam chowder can mentally transport you to a roadside clam shack or lobster shanty in Maine, temporarily letting you forget about the godforsaken heat and humidity outside of your metro-Atlanta studio apartment, where your neighbors constant bickering is only drowned out by the police sirens blaring as they drive by your bedroom window. Food can evoke wonderful memories and powerful feelings. So for me, clam chowder is something that I have a affinity for and the Lobster Shanty's Clam Chowder was ok...the flavor was in need of salt & pepper and some good old hot sauce to kick it up a notch.
I had NEVER thought about putting avocado or bacon bits on a lobster roll before, so when I saw that on the menu as part of the South Beach Roll, along with a smattering of Jalapeno Slaw, I decided to try it. While it might not have been the best lobster roll ever, it was different and I know it may sound strange, but it was thought provoking. Not about life or anything deep, but for a foodie like me, it made me think about how one thing you know and love, such as a simple lobster roll, can be changed or enhanced by a few extra items you'd never have thought to add. Now we all know that bacon helps make the world a better place and the saltiness of fresh crumbled bacon (not el cheapo imitation bacon bits) was a nice compliment to the lobster mix. The slices of avocado, nature's mayonnaise, added a buttery taste and a similar texture that mixed well with the lobster meat. As with the tacos, the jalapeno slaw placed under the meat on the bun added a much needed bit of texture to the roll while adding a little spice with a hint of tang. The only downside I'd say was the lack of seasoning to the lobster meat mixture, as I needed salt and pepper (but that is something that is a "to each their own" situation) and that the rolls were on the small size, especially for the price. The ones we had in Sarasota at Lido Beach were $6 cheaper and bigger...and they were some damn good Lobster Rolls.
Overall, we would give this place a 6.75 or 7 out of 10. I do plan on taking some of the flavor combinations I picked up from this place and try them out the next time we do rolls at the house. Plus, the service was fast and friendly and I feel comfortable in saying that if you're in this area of Miami Beach and like lobster, give them a try. You won't be disappointed.
And remember to enjoy yourself while you're in town. As the sign said as we were headed back to our car after dinner, "Life is Beautiful".