Urban Lobster Shack
15 Stone Street, New York NY 10004 (Financial Dist., b/n Broadway/Broad Street; map); 212-809-2626; urbanlobstershack.com
The Skinny: Not the best lobster roll in the city, but as part of a Staten Island Ferry boating picnic, it's a pleasant maritime-themed date
What You'll Spend: $17 to $22 a person
Not that I want to turn this site into a dating column (really, I'm the last person you'd want to take romantical advice from), but I think I've hit upon a fun (and somewhat cheapish) little date idea centered on the Financial District. (Note: This would also work for any tourists reading this or for residents in need of an activity for out-of-town guests.)
Here it is: Grab an early take-out dinner at the Urban Lobster Shack (about $18 a person), walk a couple blocks down to the Staten Island Ferry (free), grab a beer from the boat's concession stand ($3.50 for a Budweiser tall boy*), and take a seat on the upper deck of the starboard side for a great sunset view of the Statue of Liberty. Total for two: $43.50 (cheaper, if the Urban Lobster dude charges you $15 for the combo, as he did the night we went).
The Urban Lobster Shack opened a few months ago on Stone Street, but it's really only been in the last month or so that the weather has been pleasant enough to make a boating picnic out of its $18 combo meal. Said combo meal includes a lobster roll with a cup of soup (New England clam chowder, shrimp and lobster bisque, or spicy crab and corn chowder) a bag of Cape Cod potato chips, a side of slaw, oyster crackers, and a bottle of water.
The lobster roll here has been the subject of mixed reviews, the most common criticism (summed up nicely by Downtown Lunch) is that it's underseasoned but can be salvaged by the salt and pepper packets included in the bag.
I can't say I disagree with that. I enjoyed the clam chowder and the bisque much more than the lobster roll itself. The lobster mixture is light on the mayo (which I welcomed), studded with bits of crunchy celery, and, departing from the more traditional New England style of preparation, the lobster meat is shredded rather than chunked. The sandwich would have been better with some salt and pepper, but I didn't see the packets in the bag until after I had finished. If the split-top roll was toasted, as billed, I couldn't tell, but it did have a sweet, buttery flavor that in and of itself was delcious. Now only if the filling were a bit more tasty.
If I were craving a lobster roll and wanted the best of the genre in New York City, I'd head elsewhere, but as part of a maritime-themed boating picnic, it's not bad. It certainly beats the other options near the ferry—and is better than can be had on the boat itself.
*Beer on the Staten Island Ferry is famously cheap. Choose from among domestic standbys (Budweiser, etc.) in standard and tall boy variations, the more common imports in bottles (Heineken, Amstel), or a gigantic can of Foster's Lager (at $5.50 the most expensive of the bunch yet still a good value).
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