I've been reading about Luke's Lobster in food magazines and blogs for months but have been really good at finding excuses not to make it down to the East Village. The tiny store front specializing in Maine lobster rolls has attracted tremendous accolades and patrons by appealing to that niche market of people who like their food decadent and to-go.
I was in such a rush to get there that I even got off the R train from 46th St in Astoria at 59th and Lex, left my girlfriend behind and transferred to a downtown 6 to get to Astor Place faster than she could get to 8th St NYU. She didn't think my route was faster. She lost and I reserved our place in line.
Despite the extreme heat, the design of the restaurant makes it a lot of fun to be in. Maybe there was something wrong with the A/C or maybe they just don't have it but it was hot as balls inside that cramped little lobster shack. Things to look at while in line include: the chalkboard menu, the rain slicker and special lobsterin' tools with descriptions, and a specially commissioned mural with real pieces of Maine driftwood! It was like being in a very cutely decorated fisherman's toaster oven.
Original Costumes from the last movie shot in Maine: I Know How Much Lobster You Ate Last Summer
The pulse of the restaurant is quick with eaters ordering, getting their food and finishing it or leaving with it in about 15 minutes. The lobstermen workin' up a sweat in the back and the speedy but chummy girl taking orders and dispensing seafood may or may not be from Maine but who cares? The lobster is the bomb.com.
An actual story-board from Maine's next big motion picture, a remake of Jaws, but with lobster, Claws.
Buoys and guirls love Luke's!
I ordered the Taste of Maine. It came with 3 mini rolls (lobster, crab and shrimp), 2 empress claws, a bag of chips and a soda. I drank the Root Beer from Maine Root, a Maine-based soda company, and ate the Bar-B-Q Miss Vickie's while I was waiting for my order. When my name was called a bandana-ed hipster handed me a hefty little box with four delicious presents inside. The first thing I ate was the lobster roll. I expected it to be good (and I've had lobster rolls I thought were good in the past) but it was outstanding. The lobster was cooked perfectly and coated with barley anything at all. Generously seasoned, ridiculously fresh lobster on a buttery toasted bun is what this place does best. Next time I'm getting just the large lobster roll.
That's not to say I didn't thoroughly enjoy the chilled empress claws dipped in cocktail sauce, the closest thing there is to a flawless condiment.
The crab roll was tasty but the texture was different than I expected. I wanted large chunks and intact claws like the lobster roll. This looked messy and shredded.
The shrimp roll was my least favorite but still a pretty solid effort, especially dipped in some of that cocktail sauce.
I'll be going back to Luke's soon for another lobster roll and to try some of their bisque, but maybe I'll wait till it cools down a bit.