- Matthew Schniper
- Lobster leads on a crunchy Caeser salad
Bob Derian lucked out, by comparison. Calling it a “faith dream,” the Watertown, Massachusetts, native says he was told to move back to Colorado and open a food truck. Easy enough. He has 40 years’ experience in the food industry, in part with R&D for corporate chains. Plus he’s a consultant, well qualified to conceive his own business plan. He was clearly touched by divine inspiration when he chose the name Chef Bob’s Lobstah Trap, a nod to Bostonian slang.
Derian’s not so devout that he’s above the playfulness of wishing guests a “wicked pissa day.” Nor is he so culinarily purist that he’s above toying with these prized crustaceans — which in colonial days were so bountiful and ill-regarded they were fed to prisoners and slaves. Forget fine-dining presentations; Derian puts lobster in lower-brow positions inside American and Mexican comfort food items.
As critics, we’ve often said we respect places that hone in on one thing and do it right, which food trucks by nature do, being limited in space and thereby scope. So aesthetically, nothing turns us off at the notion of a focused lobster truck, market prices for seafood and land-locked whiners be damned. Derian buys the same North Atlantic lobster that restaurants in Boston do. It’s steamed, shelled, cleaned and frozen in seawater by processors.
Will that ever be as good as the lobster cracked by my hands, straight from the pot, dipped in drawn butter, consumed while my feet rest in the sand on a Maine beach? No, of course not. But will I find any better lobster locally than that featured on Chef Bob’s Signature Lobster Roll? It’s debatable, though unlikely.
That’s the go-to item, carrying around a $16 price tag (easily $20-plus back in Beantown), but featuring a weighed-to-order 1.25 pounds of meat — more than a 5-pound lobster’s worth. Derian toasts a true-to-form New England-style hot dog bun with ample butter: “You have to have the right lobster and roll, that’s important,” he says. He also tears the lobster pieces to ensure drier claw meat’s balanced by tail meat and other portions, then he mixes that with his proprietary house dressing, a mayo base with lemon and celery accents and his own 15-ingredient seasoning salt, which includes garlic, black pepper and rosemary. “When I worked in Atlanta,” he says, “my co-workers called it ‘food crack,’ they put it on everything.”
All told, the roll is pure splendor, the protein not as tough as a freezing might imply. Everything serves to highlight the meat’s essence with no distractions in the finish flavor. And really that’s my central gripe with all the other lobster items, is some other taste partly masks the star attraction: a flour tortilla rolled with lobster and creamy avocado ranch or biting Sriracha créme; a corn shell on the $6 lobster taco; muting cheese on a quesadilla; more cheese in a great, rich cavatappi Mac & Cheese; overpowering Caeser dressing on a salad.
Mind you, I enjoyed eating all of these, but they felt like mission-drift from the sanctity of the signature roll. Lobster’s strong suit is delicacy, not versatility. It’s why lobster bisque (not served here) can’t be beat.
But hey, who am I to question God? The Lobstah Trap provides options, including non-lobster versions of most plates, so you decide if you want to try on a halo, or be “wicked.”