Late-summer downturn is a counterintuitive time to open a lobster joint. Lobster, we all know, is for the super-rich, and summer is the peak season. But that's not entirely true. With a glut of supply and falling demand, lobster is getting cheaper and cheaper. (After Labor Day, lobster prices fall dramatically though the season extends to December.) A not-yet-opened lobster joint in the East Village is about to blow the minds of lobster lovers with a $14 lobster roll, the Holy Grail of crustacean cuisine.
Luke's Lobster, a tiny restaurant that will open on 7th Street between the two Caracas, is the brainchild of Luke Holden and his father, Jeff Holden, both former lobstermen. Now Luke works at a bank in NYC and Jeff owns a shellfish-processing company, but they still have many contacts in the (somewhat dangerous) lobster gangs of Maine. "Between the two of them," manager Ben Conniff tells us, "we can get the freshest lobster anywhere in the city down here for the cheapest-price lobster roll." That sounds like fightin' words, considering the summer arrival of the Red Hook Lobster Pound, which also gets its beasts direct from Maine.
"The price point for a lobster roll is around $14, and crab and shrimp rolls are cheaper. The shrimp is going to be around six or seven dollars," says Conniff. "We'll be able to trace every single roll to a specific harbor, from Vinalhaven, Cape Elizabeth, and other harbors of midcoastal Maine." Expect a "lobstery" roll. "It's not a lobster salad. It's big chunks of fresh lobster, a little bit of mayo, a little bit of butter, served on a grilled hot-dog bun." Luke's Lobster is slated to open in mid-October. Then we'll see how lobster-roll expert Paul Liebrandt rates the roll.
Luke's Lobster, 93 E. 7th St., nr. First Ave.