In my last review, I wrote about a quintessential summertime dish and a great place to get it: ceviche and Mariscos Ensenada, respectively. But ceviche speaks primarily to those of us living in areas of the country with south-of-the-border influences. What about our preppier pals on the East Coast? Summer in the Northeast calls for lobster rolls. But if you're not planning a trip to Maine in the next few months, you're in luck. Lobster West (765 S. Coast Hwy.) in Encinitas has the rolls you're looking for.
Lobster rolls are humble yet utterly decadent: a heavily buttered bun (often of the hot-dog variety) is toasted up and filled with gorgeous chunks of lobster meat. The team at Lobster West doesn't monkey around with a legendary formula. You can get your roll warm or cold, although the difference isn't drastic. The buns come toasted and buttery either way, but I preferred the lobster just a little bit warmed up. Although the contrast of the cold, sweet meat with the warm bun was nice, having all the ingredients at the same temp made for a cohesive and lush seafood sandwich. Lobster West adds just a bit of lemon to the buttery spread, and that bit of acid opens up all the flavors and makes for a near-perfect sandwich.
The combo plate comes with a bag of chips and a side of coleslaw. It's pricier than your average lunch, but considering how much lobster you're shoving into your gullet, this is a bargain. The slaw is sweet with just a hint of tanginess and no cloying creaminess or goopy mess. I recommend capping it with a Maine Root Soda, one of the better root beers I've ever had. I'm not a soda drinker in general, but a rich, earthy root beer that doesn't taste artificial is a treat, and this soda fits the bill.
New England seafood creations pack the rest of the menu. If lobster isn't your thing (and if it isn't... sigh...), you can get your roll stuffed with either shrimp or crab. Or go crazy and get a half-roll of all three. There's even a gluten-free-bread option for those of you who've resorted to only eating the fillings of sandwiches.
I've been a bit too sweaty for soup lately, but as soon as the clouds roll in, I'm heading back for a cup of lobster bisque. I'm too much of a chicken in the kitchen to attempt making this soup at home, so I depend on the kindness of chefs to satisfy my craving for what is possibly the best kind of soup on the planet. Based on the non-liquid offerings Lobster West is turning out, I have high hopes.
Lobster West is a family affair, co-owned by husband and wife team Kim and Joel Locker. Along with Kim's brother, mother and their pal Larry Cromidas, they've launched a simple and stylish outpost of New England tastiness.
Before you know it, we'll all be calling it "lobstah."