Luke’s Lobster

By Phyllis Stein-Novack
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 16 | Posted Jun. 6, 2013

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Luke’s Lobster has added a Rittenhouse Square location that specializes in sandwich that was made famous in Maine.

Photo by Kathryn Poole

Nora Ephron, who died last year, was a newspaper reporter, essayist, screenwriter, director and playwright. She also was an excellent home cook and was constantly on the New York City new restaurant radar screen.

Her last play,” Lucky Guy,” opened a few months ago on Broadway. Tom Hanks, making his Broadway debut, is the star.

Last week, while watching “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, Hanks spent nearly 30 minutes speaking about his great friend Nora with Tom Brokaw. The conversation quickly turned to food.

“I called Nora and told her about a new lobster roll place on the Upper East Side,” Brokaw recalled. “She said, ‘Oh, Luke’s Lobster.’”

Ephron knew each and every brand new restaurant in Manhattan and beat everyone to the door.

Ironically, I lunched at Luke’s Lobster the day before the broadcast. The Rittenhouse Square location is on South 17th Street in the below-ground space that housed Bonte Wafflerie & Café.

Regular readers of my column know I adore sandwiches, when they are properly built. The lobster roll is to Maine what the hoagie and cheesesteak are to Philly.

Maine is the lone New England state I have yet to visit, but I have enjoyed lobster rolls in Boston. The Oyster House builds a delicious one with lobsters and rolls flown in from the Pine Tree State.

Luke’s Lobster is a marvelous addition to our fast-food culture. The small bill of fare is posted on a blackboard. You give your order, receive a number and within a few minutes your meal is ready. It can be packed to go in an easy-to-tote paper shopping bag.

The description on the menu says it all: We make our rolls Maine style. The seafood is served chilled atop a buttered and toasted New England-style, split-top bun with a swipe of mayo, a sprinkle of lemon butter and a dash of our secret spices.

I ordered the lobster roll ($17), which included a bag of Cape Cod chips, a kosher pickle and your choice of a Maine root soda. Root beer, ginger beer and blueberry were among the favorites, but I opted for a San Pellegrino.

Lobster is one of my favorite foods. The good people at Luke’s steam Maine Lobster to perfection and use sweet claw meat for their rolls. It is chopped into bite-sized pieces and stuffed into the split-top roll. I remember a reasonable facsimile of this bun used at Howard Johnson’s for their fried clam sandwich.

I joined three business people at a comfortable wooden table. I took a bite and was in lobster heaven. Less is more here. There was not any chopped celery in the lobster mix. There truly is just a wisp of mayo, so the lobster is the star that shines through. One man squeezed a bit of Sriracha on his sandwich but I nixed the thought. I wanted to enjoy this all-American creation straight.

I sampled a good-sized portion of steaming hot New England clam chowder ($8). There are a number of versions of this classic floating around the country. I did not detect any bacon, salt pork, celery or even onion. The disposable cup was filled with a creamy broth that imparted a light clam juice flavor. Potatoes, which the cooks cut into tiny cubes, are a necessary ingredient. I would have liked to have seen more clams in the soup. They too were cut into a tiny dice, but were not one bit chewy.

Shrimp rolls ($10) and crab rolls ($14) also were offered along with a soup of the day such as spicy crab chowder.

Luke’s Lobster may have started in Maine, but it’s a fine taste of New England right here.

Three-and-a-half tips of the toque to Luke’s Lobster. 

Luke’s Lobster

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Comments 1 - 16 of 16
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1. Fred said... on Jun 6, 2013 at 08:55PM

“What we don't need is Marty Medals coming in here complaining about a $17 sandwich. What we do need is for Phyllis to offer to treat Marty to a lobster roll at this place, on the condition that he give an honest review of his taste buds' reaction.”

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2. Marty Medals said... on Jun 7, 2013 at 09:38AM

“Listen Fred, don't be so fast to knock me.
I think that paying $17.00 for some lobster on a hot dog rool is crazy unless of course if the sandwich comes with a bag of chips, a pickle and a root beer and no chopped celery.

On a more serious note, why is there no lobster roll for sale at the Broad Street Diner?”

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3. MS said... on Jun 7, 2013 at 02:19PM

“In began to write this a few times and started and stopped. I hope the editor actually reads this.

The beginning of this review sounds like a recent review in the NY Times. Not copied but witht he same useless flowery tone. Unfortunately this is not NY but SOUTH PHILLY. Frankly the reviews of PSN are getting to be tedious just reading them. I've read about her husband, cousin, sister and grandmother, her childhood and now I have to read about Nora and Tom...GIVE ME A BREAK and write about the restaurant you're reviewing.

In this case $8.00 for soup in a disposable container seems out of line. Lobster is expensive but $17.00 for a sandwich is just very expensive. This isn't a fine dining restaurant and so far without drink or tip we're up to $25.00.

I've enjoyed reading the SPR long after I escaped Philly (OK - I guess you can bash me on that). However I'm done - I can't stand these reviews.

Take care.”

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4. MR PHULI said... on Jun 7, 2013 at 11:29PM

“horrible review as always by P-S-N this yenta babels on about everything except the spots shes paid in change to review”

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5. Anonymous said... on Jun 8, 2013 at 11:20AM

“Worthless comment, Mr. Phuli. You can't punctuate, you can't capitalize, you're a religious bigot, you over-generalize, and you're tediously negative. Grow up, get an education, and come back when you have finally acquired some social maturity.”

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6. Perfessor said... on Jun 9, 2013 at 08:36PM

“Quiz time. What's wrong grammatically with this sentence:

Last week, while watching “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, Hanks spent nearly 30 minutes speaking about his great friend Nora with Tom Brokaw.

Hint: Exactly who was watching TV?

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7. Anonymous said... on Jun 10, 2013 at 11:47AM

“Could somebody talk about the restaurant instead of your personal problems?”

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8. Former Philadelphian said... on Jun 11, 2013 at 12:31PM

“The reviews get worse each week. I read the NYT and get tired of the endless paragraphs going on about everything else but the actual restaurant review. The difference is the target audience of the NYT is obviously larger then the SPR.

The restaurant reviews here are getting bad. I know that she has to cover south Philly/ Center City/ and near by areas. However the fact is that the reviews are just poorly written and a waste to read. Some places she picks apart and get 2- 2.5 tips of the toque and while others she will discuss their family and her family and miss opportunities to discuss the food.

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9. BS said... on Jun 11, 2013 at 10:21PM

“Former Philadelphian, aka MS, this paper is is beneath your standards and obviously not for you. Nor, apparently is Philadelphia the city for you. Why not just stop coming to this website and leave the rest of us in peace.”

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10. Marty Medals said... on Jun 12, 2013 at 08:43AM

“Getting back to the review of Luke's Lobster:
I ask my self, "self, why would a food critic review a large corporate resturant with eleven locations (none of which are in South Philly) that also sell all kinds of trinkets and shirts?"

Are there not enough privatly owned resturants in South Philly that we have to read a cheer leaders review of a large corporation?
I thought the Philly Weekly would cover center city so that we could read about things in South Philly in this paper.

Imagine how stupid it would be if the real estate section of this paper featured articles about Chestnut Hill.

I honestly believe that it is time that we demand reviews ONLY about South Philly resturants.

Why not start with the Broad Street Diner?”

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11. Fred said... on Jun 12, 2013 at 10:17AM

“Phyllis, there you have it: a willing dining partner for your first review of The Broad Street Diner. Forget Sandy, leave cousin Carl home, drop Edward off at the bar. Just meet Marty there and tell the rest of us what's up with this place.”

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12. MS said... on Jun 12, 2013 at 12:49PM

“My 2 cents...

Yep I left Philly but still have an interest in the area. I regard to the paper being beneath my standards - not true. That's why I do read it. However the issue I have is with PSN's reviewes. Maybe she aspires to the NYT, WSJ I don't know. What I do know is that in my opinion is that her reviews gone too far afield and off track.

Yep - I do like the newspaper and would hope for a better restaurant review section.

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13. Nutrition Nick said... on Jun 12, 2013 at 01:32PM

“If they're going to present us with a $17 lobster roll, then I wish they would allow an option on the bun. You know, and Phyllis knows, and Burger King knows, and the US surgeon general knows that white bread and rolls are made with enriched white flour, loaded with simple carbohydrates that convert quickly to sugar and energy and hyperactivity and OBESITY. Multigrain or whole wheat whole grain rolls would be so much better for you. And some of us high rollers actually prefer the taste and the texture.”

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14. Marty Medals said... on Jun 12, 2013 at 03:30PM

“I have a very busy summer planned.
I will be available for a review of the Broad Street Diner on Saturday September 7, 2013.
If it is not reviewed by then, I will go and review it and submit a "guest " review to the SPR.

Also, I agree that whole wheat is better than bleached flour.”

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15. angel said... on Jun 12, 2013 at 08:43PM

“i distinctly remember craig leban reviewing johns house of pork. its a fast food shack near 2nd & snyder. hes a top notch food reviewer. if he can do that then the spreview can review a diner.”

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16. ms said... on Jun 13, 2013 at 10:40AM

“Editor/PSN why no review of the Pennrose or Oregon?”


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