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Monday, 3 November 2014
Name: Lobster Kitchen
Where: 111 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3NQ, http://www.lobsterkitchen.co.uk
Cost: lobster roll including a soft drink & side priced from £15 to £19, whole lobster + side at £19, lobster tails at £17.50, sides from £3.50 to £7.50. Beers priced at £4.50 and wines from £23.50.
About: Opened on Tuesday, the 28th October 2014 by friends Abigail Tan and Valeria Cinaglia, Lobster Kitchen is located next door to the infamous YMCA just off Tottenham Court Road. Inspired by New England’s lobster shacks dotted along the Maine Coast of the US, this new London restaurant serves lobster in a variety of different ways.
Lobster Kitchen takes no reservations and most tables are communal. With only one cash register (diners pay on ordering before eating), on the Friday evening we attended, there was a lengthy queue and finding a seat was tricky. Still, if you would like to brave these, November is a good month to do so as the restaurant is offering 50% off food for those joining their Claw Club, details here.
The décor evokes a maritime theme with lobster traps hanging from the ceiling and other fishermen’s paraphernalia. The overall look is busy and cluttered in my opinion, which does not help considering this is a relatively small one-room restaurant.
Lobster Kitchen is a casual eatery more akin to a café than a restaurant – think communal tables, plastic cutlery and cups, disposable food containers.
What We Ate: The Garlicky One lobster roll (£15) was served in a fluffy, soft hot-dog style bap, rather than a toasted brioche as advertised, it had plenty of lobster meat in it, but sadly lacked flavour, seasoning and most oddly garlic.
A marginally better option was The Cocktail lobster roll (£15) – the Mary Rose sauce (brandy, Tabasco, Worcester sauce, mayo and ketchup) lifted the flavour of the lobster but tasted straight out of a jar.
We also ordered two lobster tails – The Garlicky One (£17.50) had the same problem as its sister roll – it lacked seasoning.
The Thermidor (£17.50) with bechamel, cheese, herbs was the best lobster dish we had although it could have done with a little more sauce. The ultimate flaw however for both tails was that they were tough despite being almost raw in parts. Odd.
To accompany our rolls and tails we had three sides – of the fries (£3.50), there is little I can say about them but that they tasted pre-manufactured.
The lobster Mac n’ Cheese (£5.50) was the greatest disappointment – stodgy, floury and with little if any cheese flavour. A lost opportunity here, and one I really hope they will take a fresh look at.
The Deep Fried Clams (£7.50) were tiny little things, tasting and looking more like cockles. Deep-fried and very crunchy, they were surprisingly well seasoned with salt and chillies, and with a lovely kick to them.
What We Drank: We shared a bottle of Albariño by Domingo Martin from Spain (£28). Retailing at around £11 a bottle, this was a young, fruity wine but nothing else.
Likes: central London location.
Dislikes: the lobster mac n’ cheese was the greatest disappointment, as were the rolls and tails – the meat was tough, lacking in flavour and underseasoned. I may be mistaken but I thought some menu items were mis-described – baps for brioche, cockles for clams. In addition to the quality of the ingredients, the pricing also needs to be looked at – a similar restaurant also opened last week and (reviewed here) prices their lobster rolls at £7 to £9, so I question the value of Lobster Kitchen’s 50% discount.
Verdict: It’s very early days for Lobster Kitchen - there are quite a few issues to be ironed out post-soft launch week, and I sincerely hope they will be. I would have loved to love this restaurant, but on the basis of my visit, I cannot recommend it.