First of all, an admission. Lobster is not up there with my favourite things. It’s not even my favourite bit of seafood. I can appreciate one, but just why it is so revered over, say, a plump scallop, or a gambero prawn the colour of bright red lipstick is beyond me. Yet we go crazy for them. They join oysters, champagne, and caviar as the height of sophistication. We pay good money to prise them apart and extricate every precious morsel of sweet meat. It’s just too much faff for me. I’m growing old; I want the work done for me now if I’m paying for it out of my pocket. Cook it, bring it, let me eat it and then pay for it. If I want to mess around with food I’ll get a job as a cook.
And yet, despite my reservations, I am here in a restaurant that specialises in lobster, looking down at a lobstercentric menu, considering which lobster dishes to have and what wine to have with my, yep, my lobster. I start with a bisque which is the very essence of the crustacean. It has the colour of burnished metal and the depth of flavour only long roasted shells can bring, with an inherent sweetness and back-note of acidity. Lurking underneath are generous pieces of soft tail meat; possibly too many of them for its £8.25 price tag. It’s a big portion and yet we find ourselves staining the hunks of bread with the dregs of the bowl, agreeing that this could serve a purpose for lunch or early dinner by its self. A bowl of sliced of Portobello mushrooms in a sauce rich with heavy cream and garlic is equally large. Would this have been better served directly on toast instead of having the bread on the side? Maybe. I’m being pedantic. It is a solid rendition of a bistro classic that shows skill in the execution. I can live with that.
The lobster here is £29.95, which makes it the best value of its kind in the city. (Honest. That other place you are thinking of has risen by a third to £29.50 for a marginally smaller specimen.) What you get for your thirty quid is a good sized and, more importantly, accurately cooked crustacean. The delicate meat needs just a little lemon juice to set it alight. We go to work on the claws, then the leg meat. There are competent fries and a garlic butter which are roasted cloves mixed with a little fat. Pour this on everything and only attempt to kiss those who truly love you. A burger needs work to justify the £17.00 price tag. The meat is good quality, though the mince is too finely ground and the patty too compactly pressed together. It has the components to be one of the better burgers in the city with a little refinement.
They show us a dessert menu with sheer hope. If the starters almost finished us off, the large mains destroyed any chance of a third course happening. The waiter, a Spanish gent with oodles of charm, tells us that they want no one to leave hungry. Well Done, Guys (and Girls), you’ve nailed that part of the brief. And applause should be given to the wine list which despite not featuring vintages, appears well chosen and almost entirely under £30.00 a bottle. I’m not reading into the restaurant being mostly empty when we go – it was a bitterly cold weekday night in the first week of January and only an idiot like I would leave the house – I genuinely believe that they are going to have the success they deserve. And lets be honest, despite the menu having other items, the vast majority of people will be here to eat lobster, and they happen to do that very well indeed. If I said eating lobster was faff, I take it all back.
I was invited to eat at Lobster Peninsular by Delicious PR.