Luke's Lobster (UES) | 242 East 81st St. (bet. 2nd & 3rd Aves.) | 212.249.4241 | | |

WAITING BREEDS GIDDY ANXIETY. Especially when you throw in some expectation as well. Like waiting at the airport for a fling you met in—and visiting from—another country, I had waited with bated breath for the opening of the Upper East Side outpost of East Village eatery Luke's Lobster, rightfully popular for what many in the New York area are touting as Manhattan's best (and my personal favorite) lobster roll. It opened just a scant few weeks ago with much foodie blog and Twitter fan fare, and has been doing very brisk business since day one.

Added to the excitement of having this raved-about lobster roll in a neighborhood on the cusp of a foodie renaissance was the prospect of some additional menu items, notably fried shrimp and fried clams, rounding out the whole "restaurant on the Maine shoreline" experience.

Well, after some tug-of-war issues with ConEd, the the Fryolator started popping out the new fried items today—continuing to do so from now on, yet only after 5 p.m. I was fortunate to, make it into Luke's during that rare quieter time between the lunch and after work/dinner rushes—bumping into my good friend, Kimberly (and her friend, Evelyn), who was thoroughly enjoying her first Luke's lobster roll—and eagerly ordered the beer-battered fried belly-on clams (choosing to wait until the morrow to order the shrimp, remembering how deceptively filling the menu items tend to be).

Running the risk of appearing as a "shill" for Luke's Lobster, I proclaim great love for these crispy, crunchy, silky, tasty, nicely seasoned orbs and rings. I developed my original love for fried clam at the HoJo's around the corner from my childhood home; I know have developed a new adoration for this more fully realized version. The highlight of each bite, beyond the nuanced dichotomy of textures, is the actual belly-on clam itself, full of oceanic flavor and boasting it's own taste and texture properties. The pliant belly dissolving over the tongue beautifully, sliding down the throat with no sliminess, while the clam "strip" offered an only slightly firmer chew, releasing it's on deep sea taste without resorting to any of the rubberiness common among most other versions of clam strips many of us have endured over most of our lives.

Even with Kim and Evelyn diving in to try them as well—and they are likewise, now, fans—I found myself getting full halfway through the regular-sized order (these could easily satisfy two diners!), although my mouth wouldn't let me stop eating, and I handily finished the whole container.

Already successful in taking themselves beyond "one trick pony" status—with their likewise excellent shrimp rolls and Empress crab claws—the addition of the new fried items gives them a full "stable" of reasons to visit them. And I gives me that many more reasons to "fly" back to the coast of Maine, as I will do tomorrow to sample their cracker meal-coated fried shrimp.

(Anyone know a quaint little seaside inn I could stay for the night before I go over...?!)


Bun Apple Tea!


Luke's Lobster (UES) on Urbanspoon

Luke's Lobster (UES) | 242 East 81st St. (bet. 2nd & 3rd Aves.) | 212.249.4241 | | |