Food & Drink: Lobster's on a roll at Lobster Shack
Portola Valley is about as far removed from the shores of Maine as you can get, but the new Lobster Shack, which opened in Ladera Country Shopper on May 28, captures the goodness of that New England favorite, the lobster roll.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, diners at the Portola Valley Lobster Shack were happily tucking into lobster rolls in grilled hot dog buns, served with fries, coleslaw and pickles. Sandwiches piled high with the rosy meat may be ordered Naked (served with sides of mayo and drawn butter) or Maine (lobster mixed with mayo, green onions, salt and pepper). Each version is $18.75.
The Portola Valley Lobster Shack is the second seafood restaurant for owners Lynn and Russell Deutsch of Portola Valley and their kids, Isaac and Aaron. Their Old Port Lobster Shack opened at 851 Veterans Blvd. in Redwood City in 2006. Its Maine lobster roll was just named "Best of Show" in the Lobster Roll Rumble held June 9 in Manhattan. Judges said, "(The roll's) strength lies in its simplicity, which is all about the tasty lobster meat."
It isn't just lobster rolls at the new Portola Valley location. Diners can choose from "chowdahs" (New England clam and Rhode Island red, $8 a bowl), appetizers, sandwiches, beer-battered specials, specialty plates, and even a "Big Boy" lobster dinner ($46.75).
All the seafood is flown in fresh and live from Maine and Massachusetts several times a week.
The New England clam chowder is a satisfying potato-thickened broth, studded with chunks of clam meat. The steamed Maine mussels are a tasty and generous serving in a white wine and garlic herb butter sauce ($14.75).
The menu also features hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, mac and cheese, and salads.
In case you have room for dessert, there are Down East favorites: blue berry cobbler, blueberry bread pudding and blueberry pie, as well as key lime pie.
New England-raised Russell Deutsch, who spent 11 years exporting lobsters from Portland, Maine, had moved to the Peninsula when he came up with the idea of opening a New England-style lobster shack in the Bay Area. The Deutsch family also operates a ShackMobile food truck and catering business. To catch the ShackMobile, visit the Edgewood Eats Monday night gatherings at the Edgewood Plaza Shopping Center in midtown Palo Alto, or check it out on Twitter.
The sign is now up at Portola Valley Lobster Shack, and Mr. Deutsch promises that beer and wine will be coming "any day now." In the meantime, you might want to try a bottled soda from Maine or Boston, or a Maine root beer float ($6).
Portola Valley Lobster Shack is open daily at 11 a.m. at Suite 300, 3130 Alpine Road in the Ladera Country Shopper. Call 561-9500.