Last week I indulged and became one of the ladies who lunch – or really it became more of a ladies who early dinner. A friend was in town visiting another friend who invited another friend….you see where I’m going with this. Given the serendipity of these many connections, a meal of a high standard was in order and we convened at Burger & Lobster in Mayfair. This is one of those restaurants that I keep hearing about, but can never get myself to go to because the rumors of the queues (lines to you and me) are legendary. I am not prepared to wait for a burger for hours, nor a lobster roll given my previous experiences with them here in London (read, subpar) http://chefsallyjane.com/2012/01/25/lobster-roll-fantasy-at-the-hawksmoor/. But, a mid-afternoon sojourn with a group of saavy and chic ladies? Count me in.
Surprisingly, for 5pm, the restaurant was already humming away (5pm is super-early for dinner in London – most places don’t start dinner service until 7-ish). We did get a table immediately in the relatively characterless room. There’s nothing funky or remarkable about the way this place looks, the servers, the diners, anything, so I had to believe that the food would make up for this shortfall. The waiter explained that we could choose from a burger, a grilled or steamed lobster, or a lobster roll, all served with fries and a green salad – and regardless of your choice, the cost: £20. Drink menus were presented and then we were left to ponder our choices.
I had to try the lobster roll, if for no other reason than my duty to you, dear readers, for whom my search of a decent London lobster roll has become my Holy Grail. Not to bore you again, but Mary’s Fish Camp in New York City, http://marysfishcamp.com/, is my one must go-to spot whenever I visit that city. I love sitting at the counter, munching on oyster crackers and anticipating the deliciousness that is about to be placed in front of me. A similar quivering of my taste buds occurred here as I waited for my lobster roll to be served. The room continued to fill up like the water filling the Titanic’s hull, and we, the ladies who early dinner, talked shop and shoes and springtime.
My plate, when it arrived, looked very promising. The brioche bun, a very good approximation of the buttered and grilled Pepperidge Farm used in New York, a nice amount of mayonnaise mixed in with the chunks of lobster, fantastic golden fries and an intriguing looking salad. The other ladies ordered their lobsters grilled (to me, I can’t be bothered because when you get the lobster roll all of the work has been done for you – no hard labor with crackers and skinny forks). And then, because we were feeling gluttonous, there was a burger to share (well, we had to try everything, didn’t we?).
It was truly a very, very good lobster roll. I was happy. It would have been glorious if the lobster meat itself was fresher. There was a slightly grainy quality to the meat that indicates it was frozen – it wasn’t that firm, meaty texture that is desirable. That said, the mayo and herbs and bun and fries and – well, all of the other goodies were spot on. The burger was outstanding! Seriously delicious. I only had one bite but it made me yearn for more and I think when I go back, it will be my choice. Oh, and on a quick side note, my friends ordered a lemon ginger cheesecake for dessert (they were really hungry). Now, I don’t like cheesecake, but I did take a bite and it was quite good – served in a cardboard to-go container with the crust crumbled on top of the cheesecake filling, not underneath.
We ambled back through the restaurant stuffed to the gills, pushing through the crowds. It was now just hitting 7pm and the crowds spilled out onto the sidewalk, men with gold pinky rings bargaining with the hostess and her clipboard. I was pretty pleased with my experience as a lady of leisure and now had lots of time to go home and digest before heading to bed. We all kissed each other on the cheeks and headed back to our flats, promising to do this more often. Count me in!
29 Clarges Street
London, W1J 7EF