So, there’s this guy. Who makes lobster rolls in his tiny basement apartment in Greenpoint and offers them, stealth-like, to anyone willing to track him down.
My feelings on this particular foodstuff aren’t exactly a secret, so it should shock absolutely no one to learn that when this Food Curated video surfaced a few weeks ago, I immediately jumped into stalker mode to get a taste of the action. Persistent text messaging and email paid off a few days later, when I was finally gifted with the “secret location” and given permission to drop by.
My friend and I arrived just as the griddle was heating up; we were welcomed warmly and ushered into the lobster lair as if we’d all known each other for years, not seconds. We made ourselves comfortable and watched as Ben (that’s the guy) compiled our sandwiches.
While he was waiting for the heavily buttered top-loading buns to toast, he pulled the main ingredient from the fridge and gave it a stir. My mouth watered in anticipation: I knew from the aforementioned video that we shared a similar philosophy on the subject—minimal mayo, absolutely no celery or onion—so my expectations were high. With a final flourish of Old Bay and a stroke of melted butter, he handed them over.
If I’d had the patience to let the warmth of the bread permeate through the filling, this would’ve been everything a lobster roll should be, but even at a touch on the cold side, the meat was sweet and tender, clearly cooked to perfection. I tried to eat it slowly, to make it last as long as I could, but my appetite betrayed me: Before I knew it, I was left with nothing but an empty container and the sneaking suspicion that it might be gluttonous to ask for another on the spot.
In the beginning, my interest was piqued both by this lobster merchant’s guerrilla-style premise and by the promise of an authentic, affordable, local alternative to Pearl Oyster Bar, but the fact that his story was picked up by nearly every food-oriented media outlet imaginable proved to be almost as compelling. Historically speaking, New York hasn’t exactly been tolerant of off-the-grid operations such as this one; as hopeful as I am that Ben will evade shutdown for a long, long time, I knew I had to get my hands on the goods before the city got its hands on him.
Of course, now that I’ve managed to sample the wares and found them to my liking, my problem is a compound one: Dare I allow myself to become addicted, knowing that, at any moment, the source of my no-frills fix may be unceremoniously yanked from reach? And if the answer is a resounding “yes,” as I suspect it will be, how soon is too soon for seconds?
To get your very own lobster roll, contact Ben at Brooklyn Chowder Surfer for more information. The line starts here.