It's never easy for me to admit that summer's over.
Once 70-degree temperatures take hold, nostalgia for those seemingly endless sweltering days and salty breezes at the beach sets in. This tropical Singapore girl starts yearning for spring, which is just too many months away.
This year, however, the husband — looking out for his own mental well-being, no doubt — has a solution for the seasonal bitchiness moodiness. "The new seating area at the Red Hook Lobster Pound appears to be open," he says one day.
Instantly, the air brightens. As soon as we can plan it, we're on a bus to Red Hook, racing toward a lunch of lobster rolls, plump and buttery…
We have high standards for lobster rolls, the Mister and I. As newlyweds, we'd lived near two lobster roll havens in New York: Pearl Oyster Bar and Mary's Fish Camp, where it could have been entirely possible at some point that their barstools almost permanently bore the marks of our firmly planted tushes.
And we'd once gone on an extensive lobster roll quest in Maine, where our lobster rolls looked like this (at the Lighthouse Inn & Restaurant in Seal Harbor) …
… and this (at Moody's Diner in Waldoboro).
In Red Hook, the simple menu looked promising. If a place is only doing a handful of things — chances are, they're good.
The first things you'll see when you walk in the door are massive tanks filled with lobsters.
It's a simple set up — the person taking your order (and cash) is also the person making your rolls.
The smell of butter is everywhere. We observe closely, our arteries already feeling clogged, as the cook/server/cashier dribbles melted butter on almost everything — buns, mounds of lobster.
We decide to sample both kinds of lobster rolls. The first is the traditional Maine version, where the lobster filling is cold and served with house-made mayonnaise. The buns are incredibly buttery and nicely crisp and toasted. (These buns, by the way, are from Maine as well, adding to an "authentic Maine experience," the restaurant's Web site touts.) The amount of lobster certainly is ample and we love that the chunks of lobster are just lightly briny and massive. No chopped up lobster bits here.
Although we understand that it is probably better for us that the filling isn't heavy on mayonnaise, we can't help but feel like there should be just a little more in the mix. It feels just a smidge dry.
The Connecticut-style roll, where the filling is warm, has been sauteed for a little in gobs of melted butter. It's hard not to love this roll — hot rolls slathered with butter filled with big chunks of warm lobster bathed in butter. It's a win-win situation, really.
The combination, naturally, is delicious — in comparing the two, we have no doubt which version is the winner.
While relatively inexpensive compared to their counterparts at most New York restaurants, which tend to go for more than $20, these $15 rolls don't make for a cheap meal. (Although, a bag of chips does come with each roll.)
Our lunch ends up costing over $40 (including tax and tip) when the two rolls are paired with a couple of $2.50 sodas from Maine Root (great rootbeer — very rich in flavor; loved the blueberry soda) …
… and a $3 Maine-style whoopie pie, which is made by a nearby bakery using the Lobster Pound's recipe.
(The cakey chocolate portion of the pie is thick and nicely done but the creamy marshmallow filling is a little sparse, making the cake-to-filling ratio feel a little off.)
While the new seating area, which opened this summer, is pleasant enough, no amount of lobster buoys and summery picnic benches can erase the feeling of eating in someone's tricked out garage …
… while looking out at this.
"We had a better view in Maine," Mike sagely notes.
As "authentic Maine experiences" go in Brooklyn, however, we'd rate this pretty high. If you can't get the real thing up north, the Red Hook Lobster Pound isn't a bad bet.
Red Hook Lobster Pound, 284 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, N.Y., 646.326.7650, http://redhooklobsterpound.com/ In Washington, D.C., look for the Red Hook Lobster Pound truck via Twitter by following @lobstertruckDC