Anyone who knows anything about restaurants knows the first year is the toughest. Well, Da Lobsta, the traditional lobster roll destination in Chicago, has just surpassed a year at its Gold Coast Location, which means it’s a success.
Which is no surprise considering Da Lobsta has already expanded – to the French Market late last year. Affordable gourmet food is served at both locations.
Because here in Chicago lobster is definitely a gourmet food. This isn’t New England where lobsters jump out of the ocean begging to be eaten (that’s what I’ve heard), but the Midwest, a place that isn’t very close to an ocean (that’s a lake, not sea).
Who would serve a New England staple in Chicago? J. Wolf, the brains behind Da Lobsta. He had loved lobster rolls as a child, on visits to Maine, and later ate them at a Los Angeles area food truck, but his lobster roll experiences in his hometown were disappointing. Because lobster isn’t local to Chicago, J found it tended to be treated as a rare treat available only in fancy, expensive restaurants. And when chefs did lobster rolls they deconstructed them, or fancied them up so much that they no longer resembled the delicious rolls of J’s memory.
J wanted a standard lobster roll that was accessible to everyone in Chicago so he created Da Lobsta. I had the pleasure to meet J and to try a couple of Da Lobsta’s creations, the traditional lobster roll and the lobster grilled cheese sandwich. So, so good.
The roll had huge pieces of claw and/or knuckle meat right on top. No chance to miss lobster tails with such substantial chunks of delicious chilled lobster flesh sitting atop a grilled bun. Delicious and rich.
Also deliciously rich was the lobster grilled cheese sandwich and Texas toast. I’m not sure I can ever go back to boring grilled cheese sandwiches that just have cheese because those chunks of lobster, along with the tarragon mayo dipping sauce, made the grilled cheese sandwich into something so much more than a grilled cheese sandwich.
Maybe you’re not so traditional, or – gasp – don’t like lobster. You can still eat at Da Lobsta. Rolls are offered in various ethnic flavors including Asian, Mexican, Greek, and Indian and with your choice of lobster, blue crab, or shrimp.
Or, if all of those proteins appeal to you, you can have the Gold Coast, a roll with lobster, blue crab, and shrimp. I have heard that the Gold Coast is an indulgence well worth the price.
The Gold Coast location is B.Y.O.B. in a fast casual dining setting. The French Market location has a smaller menu that is perfect for a quick West Loop lunch.
One year in and Da Lobsta is going strong. Yum.