LOBSTER ME AT THE WESTFIELD? I'D RATHER NOT
Mall food, it's not the same as I remember as a child, at least not at malls in the city. These days, they've tried to upgrade their food courts from the standard quick bite to go fare of yesterday. Or so it is at the Westfield in San Francisco where they've made the effort to look beyond your McD's and Panda Express'. I hit up that movie theater there on a fair number of occasions and, just because it's there, me and the SO also hit up the food stalls. Like any place, some spots have managed to do well and others have come and gone in the blink of eye. On a recent visit, a new place had popped up called Lobster ME, the "ME" sort of being a double meaning of both "me" and the postal abbreviation for Maine.
They appear to be the beginnings of a chain with a location in Bethesda, MD of all places and then several spots and a truck in Las Vegas, a place that doesn't necessarily scream lobster. Crab legs on a buffet maybe, but not lobster. They have a handful of different kinds of lobster rolls and prices start at $18, just slightly less than the double lobster meat version from the Lobsta Truck. Considering how I feel about $10+ sandwiches in this town, it took every bit of control I had to overcome my compunction and bite the bullet to plop down the money give these things a try. And since it was me and the SO, I was getting 2 rolls and such, and well, ugh, it was TOUGH!
First up, we went with the Connecticut--lobster mixed with warm butter and chives on a toasted roll with a side of potato chips and slaw. Size wise for a lobster roll, it's about average-ish. In the pic above, that potato chip looks almost as big as the bun--that's not a photo trick either--I'm not that good at Photoshop. There were two parts of a claw in here, but the rest of the lobster was more shredded as opposed to cut into pieces. Plus, the meat kind of sits on top of the bun making it seem like it's packed full, but it was not. As for the lobster itself, it was over cooked. Lobster can be tricky and will get done quickly. The meat here was either overcooked at the beginning or sat in a warm pot or whatever. Either way it was just this side of chewy and noticeable to both of us. It also seemed to be missing the butter. The bun was toasted and looked like it had a butter smear on it, but if it was on the lobster it was essence of instead of actual butter. And while, yes, I am a butter fiend, the SO couldn't taste it either, so it wasn't just me. The handful of chips were standard and the slaw was actually okay. Still crunchy, not overwhelmed with mayo, a hint of vinegar, could have a used a little salt and pepper, otherwise, good enough.
Next we had the Original Maine Style with celery, chives and mayo. At least they are consistent on how they stack a bun and the requisite 2 pieces of claw and the rest shredded meat. What seemed to be missing here was they mayo--it neither looked nor tasted like it had any. Chives and a few bits of celery, yes, mayo? No. Again, neither of us could tell it was there. Sadly, again, the meat was overcooked and on the chewy side. The bun also wasn't buttered and absent that and mayo, made it seem a tad dry. Whoever is working the kitchen here needs a re-train on how to cook lobster.
Undaunted we also got an order of lobster fries that came in at $14. Lobster, french fries with melted white cheddar and cheese curds. Sort of a lobster poutine if you will. Well, overcooked meat was the theme and for that they were consistent. Here you get less than you would on a sandwich. The fries were actually good. Cooked right, salted enough, on their own, they are fine. The cheese tasted odd, like it was smoked or aged or something and it wasn't all that pleasant. Plus it did not mix well with either the lobster or the fries. Maybe if it had been just the curds and not that melted stuff or maybe just some butter, again missing here, or just something other than cheese, this could have possibly been better. As it is now, it just didn't work for either of us.
All total that was 2 sandwiches and a side for a grand total of $50! (Yes, my hand was shaking signing that cc bill) Had we gotten drinks it would have been even higher. We tried to get sodas, but the machine evidently wasn't working and all they had was water or lemonade. They'd been open about a month by the time I got by, but they still seemed to be working out the kinks as some of the staff weren't sure of what was on stuff and it took longer than it should to actually get the order. Add in some high price points, small portion sizes and overcooked lobster, I'm gonna say Lobster ME is pretty skippable--unless you really feel the need for a lobster fix while you are the Westfield. Even then I'd say it's probably not going to whet your appetite. It's an interesting idea and most likely works better as a food truck where folks kind of expect slightly above pricing. As a mall food option in this instance, I'd suggest re-adjust your taste buds into wanting some other seafood like shrimp and hit up one of the Asian noodle places instead.