Culinary cage match: Lobster

Stomachs, let's get ready to rumble!
Stomachs, let's get ready to rumble!

When summer comes we all try to tighten our belts — both literally and figuratively — by eating healthier and less expensively. Of course that doesn’t mean we’re not going out; nor does it mean we’re passing up those luxury items we’ve come to depend on to get us out of our early summer funks. I’m talking about that all-time crowd-pleaser and major butter-sauce dweller: the lobster.

At Tobacco Road, the crowd is exactly as you’d expect at Miami’s oldest bar and restaurant (est. 1912): a mixture of old Florida and new. In other words, cheapskates of all generations and classes. They’re here for the Tuesday night lobster dinner special, which, at $10.99, is one of the best deals in town. So good, in fact, that you had better call ahead to reserve your spot (lest you find yourself squeezed next to a large dude with flames on his shirt and motorcycle boots heartily de-clawing Señor Pinchy). The 1 1/4-pounder is served with garlic mashed potatoes, slaw and drawn butter sauce. They come out of the kitchen unadorned, and they are eaten in hand. Couple cold brews. Bunch of napkins. Hard to mess that up.

In fact, you have to really try to mess up lobster, and at Vita, they really do: starting with a menu introduction by the waiter that includes a helpful warning that there may be some “unfamiliar vocabulary” on the food-sheet if you need any assistance. You know, should I not be able to figure out what an “app-e-ti-zer” was. It was under the “appetizer,” after all, that someone found Maine Lobster Salad served with Fresh Fruit in a Citrus Dressing. Or, as I saw it, a pineapple/orange salad topped with some white-fleshed fish that tasted exactly like pineapples and oranges. How do you get lobster to taste so ordinary? Overcook? Leave it sitting around too long? Both? In any event, for $28 it ought to do more than refresh on a hot night. (I mean, it was ice cold.) Maybe reserving your lobster in advance isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Tobacco Road, 626 S Miami Ave, Miami; 305-374-1198 (call Tuesday before 3 p.m. to reserve your lobster); Vita, 1906 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-538-7955

Where’s your fave place to grub on lobster? Leave a review!

Published: 5/08