It’s that time of year – summer, barbeque, beach and seafood season – and with that comes a change in how we dress, where we go and, of course, what we eat. One of the things popping up on menus these days is Lobster Roll and I had my first of the season at, of all places, a Nathan’s counter at the food court at The Livingston Mall in Livingston, New Jersey. And, it wasn’t half bad. In fact, it was surprisingly good.
You’re probably wondering why anyone in their right mind, and a self-proclaimed foodie at that, would even dare to get something as delicate as a Lobster Roll at a fast food counter in a mall’s food court. Normally when I’m there, after a trip to the attached Barnes and Noble or from perusing seasonal sales with my wife, I’d grab a couple thighs and a side of Rice and Beans from Popeye’s or a two item rice combo meal from Master Wok. This time, however, those items didn’t appeal to me and neither did anything else that’s there – Burger King, Sakura, the Italian joint, Subway. The Bubble Tea counter didn’t call to me either and I’m always up for boba.
Then, in the same corner and with the same employees as Nathan’s, I saw Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips. Having grown up in Hong Kong during the 1970s and 1980s, I’m very much an Anglophile. So, you can imagine my excitement at the thought of Fish and Chips. (Doing a little research writing this post, I discovered that Arthur Treacher’s is a Florida-based franchise and not an English one.) When I got to the counter, I checked out the menus. Treacher’s had, naturally, Fish and Chips. There were also Clam Strips, Fish Sandwich, Clam Strips Sandwich and Lobster Roll, among the other items. The Nathan’s menu had a Lobster Salad Sandwich with bacon. I love a good Lobster Roll but I’ve had some great ones that I’ve really enjoyed – Duryea’s in Montauk, St. James Gate in Maplewood, Stony’s in South Orange – so I opted for the Nathan’s version with bacon and I’m glad I did.
It’s likely the lobster salad used for the sandwich I ate is the same stuff that’s used for the Arthur Treacher’s offering and chances are it’s shipped in daily, probably from a mass produced food plant. Regardless, the sandwich was super tasty. Lobster is a delicate meat. I’ve grilled, boiled and steamed lobsters myself and, on occasion, I’ve kept them cooking just a tad too long. And that can turn the lobster from something that should melt in your mouth into something a little more than rubbery. Well, I am glad to report that the lobster I ate wasn’t rubbery at all. The salad was light on the mayo and seasoned with what I think was some kind of dill dressing but perfectly balanced so I could still taste the lobster and enjoy its texture. The bacon added a nice touch of saltiness and it wasn’t grilled too crunchy so that it crumbled at the slightest touch. There was a touch of smokiness to the bacon that blended well with the sweetness of the lobster and the dressing’s mild tang. Finally, there’s the roll. Many sandwiches live or die by the bread they’re made with. Well, this sandwich does more than live. Most Lobster Rolls I’ve had are served on a hot dog bun. The Nathan’s sandwich was served on a round roll, lightly toasted, but not to the point where it scratches the roof of your mouth or loses the softness inside the crust. It completed the sandwich nicely, a compliment to the bacon’s mild fire and the lobster’s subtle sweetness.
So, as Memorial Day leads into July Fourth into Labour Day, I’m sure I’ll have my fill of Lobster Rolls, Steamers, battered cod, you name. I may even report on each one, coming up with my top five list or something like that. But, the season’s only just begun and it’s fair to say I’m off to a good start. If you’re a lobster fan, I suggest you give the Nathan’s version a try. I give it, until I come up with my own rating system, two thumbs up.
By the way, anyone with ideas for a rating system I can use, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a message via the Contact Panlasa page. Thanks for stopping by.