Field Trip: New England Lobster Market & Eatery

650Food field trips happen for a variety of reasons. Some are educational — an opportunity to learn about a new or not-so-well-known source of tasty, local food. Some are to share the experience of eating food produced by local farmers, artisans, or chefs. And some are… well, let’s be honest, some are just about pure indulgence. New England Lobster Market & Eatery in Burlingame falls into the latter category.

On a recent sunny, yet slightly crisp Friday afternoon, I was feeling pleased with myself for getting through my weekly To Do list and decided to treat myself to lunch. Work done for the the week and a sunny afternoon ahead of me, I was going to get myself a lobster roll. Never mind the fact that I’d never had a lobster roll in my life and hadn’t set foot in any part of New England since a family trip to Boston when I was 10 years old. I was having Lobster. For lunch. ‘Nuff said.

New England Lobster Company in Burlingame, CA
New England Lobster Company in Burlingame, CA

New England Lobster is definitely off the beaten path; it’s located in Burlingame’s business park/semi-industrial area off Old Bayshore Road. The Market and Eatery are housed in the same building — lunch and shopping all in one location! When you enter New England Lobster, turn left for the Market, or walk straight ahead for the Eatery. While most of the seafood at New England Lobster is not locally sourced, the prices are decent and the quality is excellent. (One exception: Dungeness crab, when in season, is locally sourced. NEL purchases their crab from boats in Half Moon Bay.) The market board and printed price list at the Market’s cash register give the latest information about what’s available, its origin, and market price.

The Market offers cooked lobster and cracked crab, as well as fresh oysters and clams on the half shell for in-house dining. You can also purchase these items to take home. Want more choices? The cold cases house frozen scallops, fish fillets (mahi and salmon), lobster tails, shrimp, and locally made seafood ravioli to purchase and cook at home.

If it’s a freshly made lobster roll you’re looking for, then head straight for the Eatery. While the lobster roll, available in three variations, is the star attraction, the Eatery’s menu has a seafood dish for any appetite. I could see a lot of Friday lunches at NEL in my future. I ordered the “lightly dressed” lobster roll (lobster meat dressed with just a touch of mayo, plus salt and pepper), took my number, and found a seat outside at one of the picnic tables in front of the the building.

Having missed the Friday lunch rush, I didn’t have to wait long for my lunch to appear. The lobster roll and sides were delivered in about 10 minutes by a friendly employee. Chunks of lobster meat were piled on top of the toasted, buttery, rectangular “roll” (now, if that isn’t an oxymoron…). The roll was more of a lobster-delivery device than container, so I ate the lobster first, then attacked the roll afterwards. The lobster itself was fresh, rich, and oh-so-slightly sweet. The light dressing of mayo, salt and pepper was enough to accent the lobster, providing balance and a bit of moistness.

Lightly Dressed Lobster Roll, Thick-Cut Chips, and Slaw
Lightly Dressed Lobster Roll, Thick-Cut Chips, and Slaw

The sides — thick-cut, spiced potato chips and cole slaw — are both made in-house. The chips are seasoned with cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayanne, and salt, and fried in canola oil. I’m not much of a potato chip fan, but these had the right amount of crunch and seasoning. The slaw is dressed up just a bit with the addition of plumped, dried cranberries, adding texture and sweetness to the crunchy, but slightly bland slaw. For my taste, I’d prefer a bit more salt and acid, fortunately with the condiments NEL provides on the tables, it’s easy to adjust.

So, that’s my new Friday indulgence — lobster for lunch (or Dungeness crab… or oysters…). And I’m no longer a Lobster Roll Virgin! What’s your latest local food indulgence? Show and tell!

New England Lobster Company
824 Cowan Road, Burlingame, CA
Market Phone: 650-443-1543
Eatery Phone:  650-443-1559
Hours: see website

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