Saturday, 31 August 2013

New York Series - Ed's Lobster Bar

One of the edgier parts of Manhattan is the border between Chinatown and Little Italy, and by edgier I mean a bit dodgier!  It also happened to be one of the four locations around Manhattan that we stayed during our month long adventure.  Our hotel was actually on the Bowery, which during the late eighties and nineties was one of the tougher parts of town, but for those brave enough, was also the cooler part of town with bars and nightclubs.  You could see the remnants of this even during our visit, but like most parts of Manhattan, the gentrification is happening.

We spent a bit of time wandering up and down the Bowery and parallel to that Lafayette Street, which eventually runs into 4th Avenue.  Around that neck of the woods is also Spring Street, which is perhaps one of the coolest streets in SOHO, so we had a great time exploring the neighborhood.  Like so many great places, we stumbled upon Ed's Lobster bar by accident when heading to SOHO down Lafayette Street and while we didn't go in at that time, I added it to my mental list of places to visit.

We eventually decided to go to Ed's on the worst possible night, it was raining and raining hard.  We were stuck walking between our hotel and SOHO when the heavens opened up and needed to get out of the rain, and quickly.  It just so happened that we were close to Ed's at the time and it seemed like the perfect place to see out the rain.  We ran laughing to Lafayette and fell through the front door to Ed's and were a little dismayed to see how busy it was, it was completely packed and there were people ahead of us in the queue to be seated.  Faced with going back out into the pouring rain or waiting, we took the sensible option and decided to wait.  It ended up being a good decision, the wait staff brought over the drinks menu and SC got stuck into a white.  It also ended up being a short wait and before too long we were seated at a table in the bustling restaurant.

Ed's Lobster Bar is named after Ed McFarland, a native New Yorker, who had never eaten lobster until he was seventeen years old.  It obviously resonated and never left his memory.  Ed went on to become a chef, graduating from the French Culinary Institute in 1995 and quickly went to work with some of the cities finest chefs including Sotha Kuhn at Le Cirque and Dave Pasternack at Terence Brennan's Picholine.  After a while, it became clear that cooking with seafood would be Ed's passion and six years working at the West Village mainstay, Pearl Oyster Bar, honed his skills.  Harking back to his first taste of Lobster, Ed's long awaited dream of opening his own restaurant culminated with the opening of Ed's Lobster Bar in 2007.

Once we were seated at our table and looked over the menu, it was clear to both of us that we would be having Lobster in various forms, and I was really looking forward to it.  However, for some strange reason SC went for something a little different for her starter and opted for the jumbo shrimp cocktail.  I am sure you remember back to your first experience of a shrimp cocktail, most likely at a Pizza Hut when really young?  Well, this was not like that.  The reference of jumbo was to the size of the shrimps (we would call them King Prawns) and not the size of the dish.  You could order as many in your cocktail as you wanted and SC ordered two, which were simply massive.  The shrimp (I feel funny calling them that, but when in Rome!) were very fresh and peeled nicely, ready to be dipped into the tomato based sauce.  It was a great way for SC to start off the meal, but she missed out by not getting the lobster bisque

I can say with certainty that SC missed out by not getting the lobster bisque because I ordered it and it was amazing.  I even let SC have a little bit of a sample and she seemed to get that little tinge of food envy, I could tell.  The bisque was a classic, with a rich flavour that was instantly sweet but also had a bite to it.  The colour was a deep yellow with hints of orange and red throughout,  it smelt amazing and tasted better.  There were some surprises at the bottom of the bisque, with a couple of lobster filled dumplings that had chunks of fresh lobster meat and gave some texture to the bisque.  I really loved this bisque.

There were many interesting looking variants of lobster on the menu and SC decided to run with the lobster ravioli which came in a mushroom cream sauce.  Wow!  We had many lovely dishes on our trip to New York but this was one of the most delicious.  The ravioli parcels were made from fresh pasta that was extremely thin, but stuffed with fresh lobster meat that was so sweet and succulent.  What really set the dish apart though was the wonderful creamy sauce, with was an incredible match for the lobster ravioli.  The flavours were rich and deep that left an aftertaste on the palate that was warm and made you want to go back for more.  The serving was huge, and even though it had amazing flavours and was completely delicious, SC couldn't finish the whole lot, even with a bit of help from me!

Looking through the menu, there was only one thing I had on my mind and that was lobster.  Of course this makes sense in a Lobster bar, but I wanted the pure and unaltered version of lobster, so I ordered the whole steamed lobster.  I have had lobster fairly regularly in my life, but generally its been just a portion as part of a larger meal, so I was pretty excited about finally cracking open a lobster with my hands and eating the sweet succulent flesh.  My lobster arrive on the plate, red and huge, and was accompanied by a cup of clarified butter.  I wasted no time in cracking into the first of the huge claws and pulling the flesh out.  It's a bit harder than it looks on TV, and I was glad I had a big bib around my neck.  After the lobster finally gave up the flesh from the claw, I dipped it in the clarified butter and stuffed it in my mouth.....  Amazing, wonderful, tasty are all ways to describe the first mouthful and I will never forget the simplicity of this dish.  The claws were the best part of the lobster, but the main body was also wonderful.  I highly recommend getting in and having a whole lobster.

We didn't hang around for dessert on this occasion, the rain had stopped and we wanted to get on with the rest of our night exploring SOHO and the surrounding area.

The whole time we were in Ed's Lobster Bar, there was an energy that gave a real buzz while in the restaurant.  Everyone was closely packed together and there seemed to be a real party atmosphere in the place.  This was fostered by amazing wait staff, who were helpful and informative when we were ordering and during the meal.

The unfortunate thing about going to Ed's was that it got me completely hooked on lobster and I spent the next few weeks in Manhattan chasing down lobsters at every opportunity.  Summer is a prime time for lobsters in New York and they seemed to be everywhere, which was a bonus.  There is no doubt that the passion that Ed has for seafood and lobsters in particular comes through with the dining experience he has created, and I will certainly miss it.


In Australia we have prawn crackers, in New York its Oyster Crackers.  Pretty much a similar taste.
The claw meat on the lobster was amazing, the simple flavour of the clarified butter set it off nicely
The richness of the lobster and clarified butter was nicely offset by the lobster coleslaw, which helped cut through the sweetness and richness of the lobster
The rain finally finished and we could continue on our adventure in Manhattan

Ed's Lobster Bar on Urbanspoon

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