Wednesday, 24 July 2013

B.O.B's Lobster - A Contender or Emperor's New Clothes?

My diet seems to consist of burgers, burgers, BBQ, ribs, fried chicken and burgers. What London is missing is quality seafood, that is reasonably priced (Michelin dishes with one small lobster tail for £50 don't count no matter how good they taste) and preferably somewhere that doesn't involve a two hour queue. A lot of restaurants and pubs nowadays have a grilled half lobster on the menu. Burger & Lobster obviously have to be mentioned when talking about seafood, their £20 lobster rolls are a decadent, but affordable, treat. Only problem is that the queues can be fearsome - especially later on in the week. There are some other good options such as the classic Sheekey's, Green's, Lobster Pot, Wright Brothers who all either do lobster or specialise in seafood, but again, price can be an issue and you usually have to book Thursday onwards.

B.O.Bs Lobster

The solution? Strip away the fancy and take the lobster to the people. The caped crusader goes by the name of B.O.Bs Lobster. A rather middle-class, streetfood venture run by a team of three: Rob, Stephanie and Matthew. The concept has been branded to within an inch of its life - from the 1957 retro VW camper van, the retro brasserie-style outfits, even down necklaces and foam lobster hands. To be fair to them, they only started officially trading a few weeks ago and an initial PR push can be forgiven. After all, they are up against a big competitor in the Goodman's. PR can be the make or break for streetfood, however the thing that makes people come back time and time again and spread the word is the quality of the food. Bleecker St, Spit and Roast, the Ribman, Luardos, Pizza Pilgrims know this well and simply show up and get it done. As I said in a previous streetfood post: make it and make it good. The rest will take care of itself.

Cheesey but a bit of fun

So what do they offer? The menu is short and simple but all easily realisable from the van. Classic lobster roll, lobster bisque, lobster mac'n'cheese and ahi tuna tacos. The first two are no brainers and the mac'n'cheese is a sensible use of extra lobster and one for the carb fans. B.O.B's sources its most important ingredient, the lobster, from UK native stocks. UK lobsters have been famously eschewed by B&L for being too small and inferior quality to their Canadian cousins. However, I think that the fact that UK can't guarantee the outrageously massive demand of B&L has as much to do, if not more, with the decision as the taste. B.O.B source from wherever in the UK is seasonally best and they are currently using Cornish and Dorset lobsters around 600-700 grams in weight. As all streetfooders have to to maintain pricing, every part of the animal (crustacean) is used. The tomalley and roe feature in the mayonnaise, butter and beschamel and the carcasses are used to make the bisque.

The Lobster Roll - AKA THE CLAW
To the roll itself. It's a million miles away from B&L's version, I like that they haven't tried to copy it at all and have gone completely their own direction. Here the roll is a much softer brioche, still being slathered in unctuous melted butter. The filling (tail meat, sweet knuckle, claw as well as lobster coral) however is more subtle. B&L use a heavy amount of mayo, spiked with Japanese flavours and spring onions. Here the lobster is left essentially pure with a discrete layer of lobster mayo spread under the meat. The real winning idea for me was the fresh thyme and dusting of paprika giving an earthy note, while a squeeze of lemon gives a citrus hit elevating the flavours further. The lobster was perfectly cooked, tender but retaining a light chew and cut into large chunks giving a satisfying mouth feel. The 'van-made' pickles help give a zing although aren't completely necessary as the roll it isn't overpoweringly rich. The best part? You get slightly less lobster than at B&L, but its half the price at £11. You can slice it any way you want, but that's a bargain in anyone's book.

IT'S (NOT) A TUUUUUUUNA! (Arnie voice)

The ahi tuna tacos (£8) were almost my favourite. Crunchy taco shells with cubes of raw tuna, wasabi and japanese mayo, sesame seeds. Crunchy, soft, light spicing and a punch of flavour. Great balance and a lovely snack in the heat of summer. The lobster mac'n'cheese (£7.5) is pretty good although suffers from the common error that proper mac'n'cheese is baked in the oven. This is cooked pasta, beschamel, melted cheese and lobster. I'm not saying it wasn't tasty, it most certainly was. It's creamy and the lobster chunks add a luxuriousness while being a massive portion for less than £8 - however for some of the best mac'n'cheese go to Goodman's for their truffle mac


Lobster Mac'n'cheese

B.O.Bs can be found opposite Wright Brothers in the arches of Borough Market, Tuesday - Saturday, starting at 7PM and going on 'til the end of September. The big red van, deck chairs, freshly squeezed lemonade and paired beers (Brooklyn Brewery Ales) and wines really are something a little different and a bit of fun. The crew have plans for the future with another van in the dream pipeline and some hosted supper clubs so keep your eye's peeled. Plus once you've had your fill of seafood, you can indulge your meat cravings with the Elliot's Cafe pop-up next door, their famous burger now available in the evenings. I would seriously recommend heading here. Its a great bite after work and with the great weather we're having what more could you ask for than to sit in a beautiful market, quaffing your ale and stuffing a top-quality lobster into your cake-hole. 

A contender? May almost take the crown. Almost.

3 comments:

  1. I am pretty sure you spell it "tomalley" when you are talking about lobster innards.

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  2. The Lobster Roll is very tasty. Nice restaurant.

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