- Last Updated: 11:04 AM, July 11, 2012
- Posted: 11:08 PM, July 10, 2012
You love lobsters but not enough to pay $50 for a humongous specimen that’s too chewy, too much and too lonely on a platter with nary a crumb else.
But many restaurants offer generous prices on lobsters that are best for taking normal-size bites (1 to 2 pounds) and pair them with fun sides such as corn, clams and even wine.
You need to save your appetite for slower nights of the week when they’re offered, usually Sunday and/or Monday. This summer, gently priced crustaceans — the Maine/Atlantic kind, not cheap “tail” common in surf-n-turf — are not only abundant, they’ve crawled into such unlikely locations as the hip Dream Downtown Hotel and “society” bistro Swifty’s.
I tried four of the best bargains with all the “shore” trimmings:
LOWCOUNTRY, 142 W. 10th St., 212-255-2330. * * * *
This friendly Southern-themed spot is offering up our cup of summer tea: a $32 lobster boil on Sunday and Monday nights that comes with luscious shrimp, andouille sausage, corn, potatoes and cornbread. Chef Oliver Gift’s blend of palate-popping Cajun spices permeated everything in the pot, down to the kernels — and elevated Lowcountry’s feast to the peak of our picks.
Too much for one but a bit skimpy for two, it’s easily enough for both of you if you add one appetizer and/or a side — like authentic Charleston-style grits ($12).
CARMINE’S, 2450 Broadway, 212-362-2200. * * *
The “family-style” Italian-American trattoria offers a $50 “clambake” Monday and Tuesday nights year-round. The gargantuan platter includes two 1-pound broiled lobsters, six baked clams, a dozen mussels, a choice of pasta, vegetables and roasted potatoes.
Unlike the other places, the lobsters had to be cracked open — a task that usually leaves this klutz with finger cuts — but the waiter cheerfully did it for us.
Garlic lovers/haters alert: Carmine’s lays it on heavy. It lurked in the lobsters and kissed everything around it. Vampires, beware.
Claw meat was sublime, farfalle pasta al dente. But mussels didn’t lend themselves well to the oreganata treatment. Fresh green beans and carrots made up for the lumpy polenta.
SWIFTY’S, 1007 Lexington Ave., 212-535-6000. * * * 1/2
Swifty’s Sunday night deal is the priciest but may be the best bargain of all: $90 for two includes two whole 1 1/4-pound lobsters, a choice of starters, ice cream and a bottle of eminently drinkable wine. (Pinot Grigio was available, but we chose Grayson Cellars 2010 Merlot, grape-full yet soft enough not to overwhelm the main event.)
The house says chef Stephen Attoe’s lobsters are best grilled. But we asked for them steamed, and they emerged sweet and tender. They came with fresh corn chowder, splendid house slaw and routine fries.
MARBLE LANE, 355 W. 16th St. (Dream Downtown Hotel), 212-229-2559. * * 1/2
Yup, a shore-style pigout in the white-hot Dream Downtown’s lobby steakhouse. Sunday night lobster boil includes 1 1/4-pound lobster, steamer clams, andouille sausage, red bliss potatoes, sweet corn and cornbread for $32.
The lobster was chewier and less sweet than others I tried but fair enough for the package and the price. The other items served in the black kettle were first-rate.
Although not quite enough for two, one order is more than plenty when ordered with one of Marble Lane’s well turned-out starters — such as anchovy-heaven Caesar salad ($15) and crab cakes ($18).
Strangely, the lobster feast isn’t listed on the menu — waiters are supposed to tell you about it.
Among other places offering lobster feasts:
DITCH PLAINS, 100 W. 82nd St., 212-362-4815, and 29 Bedford St., 212-633-0202. “Surfer Sunday and Monday”: Starting at 4 p.m., $30 for 1 1/2-pound baked lobster, corn on the cob, sausage, potatoes, cole slaw and old bay aioli. Wash it down with $4 draft beer.
ED’S CHOWDER HOUSE, 44 W. 63rd St. (Empire Hotel), 212-956-1288. Chef Ed Brown delivers a remarkably priced lobster bake every night of the week. Available for two at $26 per person, it includes a 2-pounder, corn, slaw, scallops, shrimp and potatoes.
ED’S LOBSTER BAR ANNEX (unrelated to Ed’s Chowder House), 25 Clinton St., 212-777-7370. Sunday lobster boil for $34 includes mussels, steamers, potatoes, onions, slaw and a glass of sauvignon blanc.
FISHTAIL BY DAVID BURKE, 135 E. 62nd St., 212-754-1300. Sunday Lobster Louie — a $39 prix-fixe featuring two lobster courses.
LURE FISHBAR, 142 Mercer St., 212-431-7676. New England-style lobster boil for $45 includes 1 1/4-pound steamed lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, corn, potatoes and bacon-cheddar cornbread.
MERMAID INN and MERMAID OYSTER BAR (three locations). Sunday night “Lobsterpaloooza” boasts 1 1/4-pound lobster, potatoes and corn on the cob for $24.