The Problem With Dallas' Lobster Rolls

Categories: Complaint Desk

East Hampton Lobster Roll.jpg
The lobster roll has been fetishized in Dallas. What started as an obscure menu option offered most notably at Sea Breeze, Rex's and Cafe Pacific is becoming a full blown trend in Dallas.

See Also:
Lobster Roll Smack Down: Rex's Versus Sea Breeze
Rex's Friday Lobster Rolls: They're Good, and They're Way Cheaper Than a Plane Ticket

East Hampton Sandwich Company and TJ's Seafood Market both opened recently with Connecticut style sandwich, which is typically served warm and dressed in butter, compared to the New England style which is cool and lightly dressed in mayo. I've yet to try the monster at the recently opened TJ's on Oak Lawn, but I did get into East Hampton recently, and there are some problems with the way they roll.

Rex's Seafood Lobster Roll.jpg
The first issue is the meat they use. While it's nice they're using claw, knuckle and tail meat (essentially every part of the lobster) it should be noted they aren't using whole lobsters. The tails come in fresh and are steamed, while the knuckle and claw meat is purchased frozen, before it's thawed and added to the fresh lobster.

When a customer orders a roll, the cold meat is placed in a freshly toasted Empire bun, and then drizzled with warm butter. That's the second problem. Warm butter on cold lobster thickens up pretty quickly. On some of the meat in my roll it had actually started to congeal. It wasn't pretty.

While a "butter drizzle" sounds sexy this sandwich would be better if the meat was lightly warmed in a sauce pan with a little butter and then dumped into the sandwich. If they used whole fresh lobster the sandwich would be a really show stopper. It would also cost more.

TJ's Seafood steams whole, live lobsters every morning, but nobody rolls in Dallas like they do up north. Order a lobster roll in rural New England, and a cook will throw a lobster in a pot that second. Minutes later, some poor chap with thick rubber gloves pries the meat out of the shell, and minutes after that it's warm and glistening on a bun. The whole thing costs less than $10.

East Hampton's roll costs $16; TJ's charges $22.

The prices are fair for what you get, but they illuminate an attractive reason to embrace locavorism: the cost. A few hours away, the gulf teems with delicious shrimp. Why aren't we embracing shrimp rolls instead?

Maybe I'll start a pop-up shrimp roll cart. I'll cook whole, fresh shrimp in a court-bouillon until they're perfectly done and then chill them down and peel them. I'll make shrimp bisque with the heads and serve it in Styrofoam cups with oyster crackers.

I'll toss the shrimp in pan of warm salted butter for each order. No ginger, no zest, no micro-greens, just perfectly cooked, super-fresh shrimp and butter, finished with some freshly squeezed lemon juice. There would be a line around the block.

Location Info

East Hampton Sandwich Company

6912 Snider Plaza, Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

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30 comments
kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

'the New England style which is cool and lightly dressed in mayo"........Dear Scotty, with all pleasantries, you are not correct sir in this assumption.  The New England Lobster Roll is simply:

 

-a fresh baked bun, resembling a hot dog

-fresh lobster

-NO DRESSING.

 

Now, when the tourists come, they add mayo. 

 

_________

 

Once upon a time "downeast" I asked if they had Tabasco for my Lobster Roll, and EVERYBODY laughed at me-and I was berated, and embarrassed publicly.  I have since been schooled on the reality of the N.E. RL. 

 

ps-Texas can't even "do" a native treat like BBQ right, what makes you think they can do a losbter roll right? Just askin'. 

longhorny1
longhorny1

@scottreitz I blame the damn Yankees.

jonfromtjs
jonfromtjs

as per scott's request:

 

a signifcant cost of a lobster in dallas texas is the shipping cost getting it here. Whether lobsters are $4 or $8 or $80 per lb, the shipping cost is a fixed cost.

 

also, the cheap cost of lobster in NE was for soft shell lobsters only.  those lobsters are not the premium lobsters (less meat in them) AND they do not travel very well (more likely to die in transit).  So the cheap lobsters weren't really even an option for us here.

sooooooooo,,,

 

the $4 lobsters never made it to dallas.  and remember, that was the price per lb for the whole lobster, not the lobster meat.  so when people said "lobster cheaper than bologna!" that wasn't  really apples to apples.  even at $4/lb, lobster meat is running $16/lb (you get about 4oz/lb).

 

As for the fetization of lobster rolls, its been our best seller since day one, so the customer is always right.

Guest
Guest

Fetishized? Only by you, Scott. Enough posts about the stupid lobster rolls, we don't care. Until you start farming them out of White Rock Lake, it ain't gonna happen. Go eat some Tex Mex.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

What's all the hubbub?  By now we should all know you can't re-create local specialties.  Just try finding a cheesesteak outside of Philly.

bstaps
bstaps

@cityofate When I mentioned a warm buttery Lob roll to seabreaze, they didn't know what I was talking about. Said they'd never heard of it

MBrentD
MBrentD

I'm in CT right now, spent the summer in Boston. The bottom dollar for lobster rolls is $13 and up,  including mom and pops places. Just bought live lobsters at a fish market for $10/lb for the small ones. Where are the lobster rolls for less than $10?

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Shrimp roll? Isn't that like a New York deli calling a pastrami sandwich close enough to smoked brisket?

 

The problem is the north plains of Texas are not a known natural habitat for lobsters. You may as well complain that Dallas bouillabaisse isn't French enough.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Lobster pricing is confusing me. I read in the news that New England lobster prices have fallen to record lows, e.g., under four dollars per pound. I see this reflected in the pricing for live lobsters at Super H (7 dollars per pound). But I go go to Central Market and TJs and lobsters are priced much higher.

OhHeyDallas
OhHeyDallas

Agree.  Had the Lobster Roll today and was just confused by the butter.  It turns into a sandwich sciene project real quick. Where the aioli at, bitches?

CaptainObvious
CaptainObvious

The Problem With Dallas' Lobster Rolls is...Well...We're in Dallas, not Boston!!!  There!

markzero
markzero

Shrimp esquites could be elote more trendy.

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

Sea Breeze's lobster roll costs only $13.99. And, its great for the money! If you want more salt, there's a salt shaker on the table.

PForValue
PForValue

@cityofate Problem w Dallas lobster rolls is that we don't live near lobsters. Deal or order something else. & Sea Breeze's needs more salt

scottreitz
scottreitz

@longhorny1 I can't talk baseball right now.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

 @jonfromtjs 

 

Jon is way correct on this; I had a large family event with lobster, and I basically had to "bl+w" the seafood person in the store; the shipping cost is a BIOTCH!

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

 @brent.dudenhoeffer 

 

Well Brent, that is because Conn. sucks, and is a sh+thole.....you haven't found that out yet?  Best thing about Conn. is it makes a GREAT burb for contentious New Yorkers. 

 

ps-I voted years ago to let Conn. leave the NE region.

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

 @brent.dudenhoeffer I said rural. S.S Lobster in Fitchburg, MA. I just called and you're right, they've gone up, but they're only $9.99. A cock's hair less than 10.

bigjondaniel
bigjondaniel

 @Scruffygeist If the only goof food that we ate here was "local", we wouldn't have much to eat. Getting good ingredient sis not THAT hard. And there are plenty of chefs who know how to cook the stuff. The question is how many people are willing to pay for the quality?  But the argument that you can't get good fish because we are in Dallas is wrong. There's excellent sushi and great fish prepared in Dallas. 

 

Actually - the best seafood is always near major air freight hubs

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

 @primi_timpano Are you talking live lobsters across the board? Central Market is always more expensive than H Mart. While you're obviously up to date on lobster news, most people aren't, and the critters are still viewed as a luxury food for many. CM and TJ's use different sources I'm sure, but businesses always charge what they think their customer is willing to pay.

 

Either way I'm sure John will be here to to drop an intelligent, well written comment to address your (and my) confusion very soon.

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

 @Twinwillow I would think you could offer top shelf shrimp rolls for less than ten bucks, though.

MBrentD
MBrentD

 @kergo1spaceship I haven't found that out yet, Kerg, but I'm spending the winter here so I'm sure I'll soon agree. They do have an interesting food cart/truck situation in front of the hospital.

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

 @bigjondaniel  @Scruffygeist Bouillabaisse... I'll save that one for another day.

 

What I'm asking is, why are we paying out the ass for one thing from far away, when a struggling local industry right here in this state can get us a cheaper, more fresh product?

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

 @scott.reitz By local you must mean Trinity River shrimp. They're easy enough to catch because they glow in the dark. Go for it!

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