Luke's Lobster and Pearl Oyster Bar: The $15 Lobster Roll Versus the $29 Lobster Roll
When Fork in the Road caught up with Luke Holden of Luke's Lobster last month, he (very politely) threw down the gauntlet on the subject of fancy $30 lobster rolls:
Luke's Lobster Roll with pen for size perspective
...seeking a $30 lobster roll was never an intention of mine when I moved to the city. It wasn't until I decided to do this that I went around and visited Pearl and Mary's -- once I did that I realized, 'Wow, I have to do this.' The sandwiches are just different -- they're not a Maine lobster roll concept. Most are mayonnaise sandwiches with a little lobster here and there. It's a different concept -- it's not that one's better than the other, but this is how I like my lobster roll and how most Mainers like their lobster roll.
No one is a fan of shelling out $30 for a sandwich. But is Pearl Oyster Bar really selling a mostly-mayo treat? And how does Luke's lobster roll stand up to Pearl's? We decided to find out.
First, you've got to account for the fact that the two restaurants are very different places--Pearl is a sit-down restaurant with a full menu, wine, and beer. Luke's is a much more casual venture, serving seafood rolls, soup, and ice cream, and offering counter service and a few stools to perch on. Both places do what they do ably.
Pearl's lobster roll, with the same pen for perspective
Pearl's lobster roll comes with a huge mound of shoestring fries, which are nice, but besides the point. It's all about the lobster roll, and in any case, fries are cheap. The whole shebang rings up at exactly $29, although it's subject to "market" price variances. Luke's roll, which is listed as $14 but comes to $15 with tax, doesn't come with sides.
For our purposes, let's assume that you want simply know which has the better roll, and you don't care about a glass of wine or table service.