Restaurant Review: New lobster hot spot lbs is good enough — barely


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The lobster roll at lbs.

It’s a great concept. Who doesn’t love lobster and hate paying for it? Lbs. has picked a price point of $22, for which they sell four (!!) mains only: a 1.25 lb. lobster, a warm lobster roll, a brisket burger and a lobster salad. All but the salad come with fries. Sweet and simple.

This is what happened when somebody maybe took a look at Red Lobster and decided to tart it up for urbanites. Same concept, moved and morphed. From the suburbs to King and Yonge. From dark and dreary to a tall, light-filled room with globe lights and marble tables. And cute girl servers in tight white shirts.

It’s a clever concept. Pronounce the restaurant’s name pounds.

And pronounce the food good enough. Barely. And I love lobster.

The critters themselves are correctly cooked, nicely moist and tender. It’s the fixings that fail to impress. For example, the $20 lobster poutine. Did they maybe put one side and not the other under a heat lamp? ’Cause the cheese curds on one side of the plate are fridge cold and hard, and on the other side they’re melted. The menu says there’s lobster gravy on it, but I can’t tell if the pale thick gravy ever met a lobster.

The fries are great. In fact they’re the best thing at the restaurant, apart from the burger. The burger is big and juicy, enhanced by sharp horseradish mustard, pickles, cheddar, onions and bacon. But why are burger ’n’ fries the best thing in a lobster restaurant?

Maybe because the price of Canadian lobster recently hit its highest point in 10 years, so the rising price is screwing lbs.

Are they economizing where they can? Well, good luck finding the cheddar taste in the mac and cheese, ’cause I couldn’t. As for the lobster salad, the lobster part of it was smallish, the greens were very Loblaws-mixed-greens feeling, and I couldn’t locate the promised crispy mushrooms or the croutons.

Then there’s the warm lobster roll. This is one of the great classics of the eastern seaboard: a warm eggy buttery roll with a lot of lobster chunks. You toast the roll, mix the lobster with lemony mayo, pickles, pickled onions and celery, cram it into the crisp warm roll, and voila, flavour heaven in two hands.

And that is the loss leader of my dreams: $22 buys the fabulous fries, credible side salad for those who want to pretend this meal isn’t a carb mainline to the arteries, and the dreamboat lobster roll or the beautiful burger. Resist the urge to stray further afield.

lbs.100 Yonge St., Unit 100, $64 dinner for two

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Joanne Kates trained at the Ecole Cordon Bleu de Cuisine in Paris. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Maclean’s and Chatelaine. Follow her on Twitter @JoanneKates.

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