Lobster ME @ The Grand Canal Shoppes
Lobster ME 50/50 – Maine Lobster and Maryland Crab, Celery, Mayo, Special Seasoning on a Buttered, Toasted Split-Top Roll with Waffle Fries, Coleslaw and a Pickle
Taco Trio – Lobster with Citrus Slaw, Pico de Gallo and Sriracha Aioli / Crispy Sweet Chili Shrimp with Citrus Slaw and Sriracha Aioli / Battered Fish with Citrus Slaw, Pico de Gallo and Chipotle Aioli
Crab Loaded Fries – Waffle fries, Lobster Cheese Sauce, Crab Meat, Bacon, Green Onion, Ranch
Fried Lobster Mac n’ Cheese Balls – Lobster Cheese Sauce
Originally opened at The Grand Canal Shoppes in 2014, the location inside Miracle Mile dating back some three years prior, it was just past noon that a seat was taken at Lobster ME on Saturday, the Venetian Food Court even more packed than usual with several conventioneers and the Restaurant understaffed due to a manager being stuck behind a traffic incident on the I-15.
Embracing the quick-casual concept of places like Panera or Chipotle but said to offer only the best Lobsters out of Maine and Crab from Maryland, a bold claim for a food court counter in the middle of a city known for World Class Dining, Lobster ME is located just steps from the Grand Canal en route from the Parking Garage to the rest of the Resort and with hard to miss signage including a luminous Menu there is little to dislike about the layout featuring both reclaimed wood and buoys familiar to any who’ve been fortunate enough to dine at an actual Northeastern Lobster, Clam or Oyster Shack.
Greeted by a young man named AJ, he and another young woman doing their best to keep up with a heavy lunch surge including a couple who felt the need to ask at least three questions clearly explained on the menu overhead, it was after listening to him answer patiently for what felt like five minutes that the line finally advanced, a total of four items plus a bottle of water requested at a total charge of just over $50 including tax.
Giving each guest a number, seating at both the counter and nearby chairs occupied by visitors not necessarily eating Lobster ME’s food, it was after less than ten minutes wait that AJ presented with the first of two handfuls of cardboard baskets, a first look at the 50/50 Lobster and Crab Roll showing it to be every bit as large as those in Connecticut or Maine and similar in price, the fresh Meat lightly tossed in Mayonnaise clean and sweet while the split, buttered and toasted Roll rivaled any found from Portland to Kittery and on down.
Doing an admirable job covering a lot of choices despite minimal space, the menu recently renovated and doing away with Desserts plus the “Deep Fried Clam Chowder” in favor of several new choices featuring Crab, it was most of the Roll gone that lunch moved on to Lobster ME’s crispy Waffle Fries topped in Cheese, Crab Meat, Bacon, Green Onion and Ranch ‘drizzle,’ the last item completely unnecessary as it distracted from the quality of the Meat while the areas spared from it were entirely delicious.
Criticized for its value by some, the laid-back environment likely leading many to make false assumptions as not one item on the menu is more expensive than one would expect to pay on either coast, it was with three Tacos charged at about $6 each that taste buds were once again treated to fresh ingredients including Battered Shrimp and Fish that both overflowed their Shells beneath housemade spicy Aioli before finally finishing up with three “Fried Lobster Mac n’ Cheese Balls,” the golden orbs each nearly twice the size of a Golf ball and absolutely packed with picked Meat alongside tender pasta in Lobster Cheese Sauce with more on the side for dipping.
FOUR STARS: Recently upgrading the menu and presentation but doing away with Desserts, a decision likely made due to slow sales but nevertheless misguided as every Seafood Shack from Connecticut to Maine offers at least Soft Serve and Whoopie Pies, Lobster ME does an otherwise excellent job of replicating their signature item while also offering several additional novelties intended to appeal to diverse tastes.
RECOMMENDED: 50/50 Roll, Fried Lobster Mac n’ Cheese Balls, Shrimp Tacos.
AVOID: If ordering the Crab Fries ask for them without the Ranch.
TIP: 9a-11p Sunday through Thursday and open until midnight on Friday and Saturday with service far better than one would expect at a “quick casual” spot during a rush.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.
…but honestly, who needs Dessert at Lobster ME when you’ve got Yardbird right downstairs.