Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Lobster House, Cape May

Our statement of purpose here at EOIPwJ says 'rockin, cheesesteak, big ol' lobster'. After being in America for a few days, we had yet to make good on any of this holy trinity, until the expected bacchanalia at the Lobster House. This is a Cape May institution, but a little hard to find as it's located out at the edge of town and only has a small sign that isn't so clear about directions (if you look carefully, you'll realize that the small, person-shaped object in this picture is...me).


Even on a Monday night, the parking lot was pretty full. Fortunately we went around 7:30, so not only the first shift of diners but probably the second as well was already shuffling slowly out the door. TLH opens at 5, and based on prior experience, there's a line of retirees every day waiting to get in at that time! You're likely to be seated in the long dining room pictured here, which gives you some nice views out over the docks. There's also a big outdoor deck where they have a raw bar, but I think that's only open in season. In any case, it was getting dark for us, so we had to sit inside. The dining room is all dark wood, amusing nautical nick-nacks (which we later learned are actually bolted down, and no we didn't learn that when we tried to pilfer a spyglass), and waitresses in sailor costumes. They all have names like 'Moon' and...oh, that's a different restaurant.


This being America, soon after sitting down you'll be presented with a whole loaf of bread and a big scoop of ice cream. OK, that's actually butter, but it doesn't make you feel any less weird, does it? This bread is hot, crusty, oniony, and served on a cutting board with its own knife. It'll stay with you throughout your dinner. I imagine you could get another one if you were foolish enough to eat the first. I advise against that sort of foolishness, as there are crustaceans to consume.

Let's get started eating. We paced things so the food wouldn't arrive all at once; unfortunately it was still difficult. After years of careful research, we've concluded that the more pure and ingredient-driven your order, the better your chances of happiness. In particular, these Cape May Salts are a lovely little oyster - just bite-sized, so no difficulty with that big-mouthful-of-goo feeling you can get with bigger specimens, and with a clean, oceanic flavor. So good that we each had one of these plates. We also went through an order of Crab Fingers, which are not breaded and fried, but are in fact little blue crab claws that have been cooked, chilled and fully de-shelled. They're served with a mustard-mayo sauce, and are thoroughly boring. Errr, we also had a special scallop appetizer, which was sauteed scallops with a tomato ragu; the scallops were quite good, but the tomato sauce really overpowered them if eaten together - it was a bacon bomb (not that there's anything wrong with that, and if it was on pasta, it would be great). Phew, on to main courses.

In addition to the Main Event, we always have to try something a little different. This time was Crab Imperial, a genuinely huge mound of jumbo lump crab cooked with spices, sauces, cheeses, and love. It's fantastic to have this big pile of mostly filler-free crab just sitting there and requiring no work from you, but the inclusion of 'sweet' spices (e.g., the nutmeg's) was a little off-putting. Previously we've just had a dish called 'Sauteed Crab', which is the same quantity of meat cooked in white wine and butter. Every dinner comes with a substantial salad as well as your choice of three types of potato and a vegetable of choice. Ooogh.


Say hello to my leetle friend. Again, I have big hands, so you don't get to experience the true glory of a 1.4 kg lobster. The claws are a little scary, as are the two 10-cm bowls of drawn butter that accompany the presentation [RED ALERT: Sherri says she thinks this is a mixture of butter and oil, not all real butter. That ould make sense given the quantity provided, but it's still a letdown. I was feeling all luxurious in a wasteful and buttery way.]. This is the attraction of The Lobster House - 3 pounds of lobster that was reaxing in the tank next to the retail outlet until you requested his presence, served up any way you want, for $40. The funny thing is, they FedEx these as well, so I bet you could get one anywhere in America for much less than it would cost in Japan. And the lobster is fresh, and it is perfectly steamed, and it tastes great enough to make me forget how I think lobster is kinda boring. It takes a long time to get through though, so make sure you're mentally committed to a long struggle.

No dessert. We already had fresh fudge that we bought in Cape May. Surprisingly, this was less filling that breakfast the next day...but that'll wait until later.

Big shoutout to Lisa Ionucci. Good luck with the restoration business!
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