The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market was closed for the first three months this year to undergo major renovations. But after reopening in April, the store's lobster-to-order bar is joined by a new sushi bar with a daily omakase tasting. The Lobster Place also acquired a liquor license, so it now sells beer and sake.
Shack in the Back is the aptly-named counter in the back of the new and improved space. There, chef Dave Seigal has worked much of the store's inventory into a concise, affordable menu. A few items are not available yet, but the ones we tried on a recent visit have us excited to go back.
As before, there are sandwiches,such as top-loaded lobster rolls (market price) with sweet, tender meat and a restrained helping of mayo. We also dug the Crab Club ($12.95), with Kenji going so far as to say, "Next time I want to buy crab meat I'm just going to go to The Lobster Place, buy the Crab Club, and throw out the bread." There's a ton of fresh, sweet lump crab meat on the sandwich for the price, and no filler. It comes with salty bacon, creamy avocado, crisp iceberg, and a slice of tomato.
Capers, cornichons, parsley, and chives make ordinary mayo a sound condiment for sweet, crisp shrimp in the Tarragon Shrimp Roll ($9.95). It's also served top-loaded and toasted with butter on the sides, the roll dense and sweet against the crisp pickle laid across the top. An order of slaw ($3.50) is light and fresh, with cabbage (purple and green) and carrots retaining their crunch under a light herb-mayo dressing.
A soft, light potato and onion roll holds the Smoked Salmon Sandwich ($9.95), with fillings of smoked salmon, capers, and scallion cream cheese. There's a good amount of smoke in the tender salmon, but our favorite part about this are the crisp potato chips stuffed into the sandwich. Their crunch fills a textural void and gives it an extra salty kick. Not as impressive as the other sandwiches we tried, but not bad either.
The slightly spicy, tender Maine Red Hot ($3.95) is nothing to write home about, but a safe option for the seafood averse. It comes with dijon mustard for kick, but not much else. An order of Old Bay Fries ($4.50) is a welcome addition: the spuds are well-crisped, hot, salty, and heavily dusted with Old Bay.