The first rule of every new culinary venture, particularly ones that are hoping to attract passing customers, is that it should be easy to find and yet I walked past Lobster Kitchen three times before spotting the door.
The sign, when I actually found it, was tiny and extremely missable, which is a shame because a bright cheerful display of lobsters would be extremely eye-catching in this rather dreary end of Great Russell Street. However hopefully that will change in the near future once planning regulations have been worked through – its location just a anchor’s throw from Tottenham Court Road station means it should have no shortage of office workers by day and hungry tourists at night.
Ironically once you are inside Lobster Kitchen there is no shortage of things to read, as the menu is scrawled all over the blackboard above the open kitchen, leading to much neck-craning while you try and absorb what’s on offer.
The interior is as bright and fun as the outside is drab and dull. Supposedly inspired by Maine lobster shacks, the restaurant is small – just one little room – but cheerful, with lobster traps and buoys hanging from the ceiling and a mixture of communal tables in the middle and high stools round the outside.
As you’d expect, lobster features large on the hand-written menu, either stuffed into lobster rolls such as ‘The Garlicky One’ with garlic butter, or ‘The Asian One’ with sweet chilli and spicy fish sauce – twin rolls for £8 or a large for £12.
Other choices include a selection of split tails steamed in white wine and celery stock or a whole lobster served with a choice of side.
We started with a couple of cocktails and lots of deep-fried things (clams and pickles to be precise) which were not as crispy or as tasty as they could have been.
For mains we had a lobster roll with marie rose sauce and a split lobster tail cooked in white wine sauce – both were perfectly reasonable but not as fabulous as I’d hoped they might be….If you go to a place which specialises in lobster then you think it is going to be amazing and nothing we’d had up till then warranted a return visit, perfectly pleasant though the place was.
The cardboard plates are there because it’s eco-friendly but it just made the food feel a little down-market and the presentation was more fast food than sit-down meal.
However finally the ‘wow factor’ arrived with the lobster mac ‘n cheese which was so good my dining companion went back the very next week for more.
Now it might not look great in its cardboard takeaway container (it was served this way even though we were dining in) but it tasted amazing – pure, indulgent comfort food which you just can’t stop eating.
Lobster Kitchen was co-founded by friends Abigail Tan and Valeria Cinaglia and I wish them all the best with their venture as it is fun, different and a change from the usual chain restaurants which figure in that part of town. But better presentation, better tastes and better signage would go a long way towards making the Lobster Kitchen really set sail.
Lobster Kitchen, 111 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NQ, 020 7300 3324
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 11am – 11pm