5/29-31 Orwell Street Potts Point, New South Wales 2011
Here's the thing: I want to hate it this place. I really do. A rip-off New England lobster sandwich bar in Potts Point serving imported shellfish - what's to like?
But up at the brass bar set with a glass of La Goya (they have it by the magnum - here's hoping their turnover is high), a plate of saltines (Saladas, actually, but who's looking?) and rough, shredded fish rillettes, it's getting harder and harder to sneer.
Especially when Alex Carter is on the cocktails.
The ex-Bentley Restaurant and Bar 'tender has migrated over to run the liquor here, and he's put together a sandwich-friendly cocktail list filled with crowd pleasers. There's your Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (a Barbadian shake-up of rum, orange liqueur, spiced sugar syrup, lime juice), and a Baskerville - a jaunty mix of Japanese whiskey, coconut syrup, Benedictine and cinnamon bitters.
The wine list, as you might expect from Matt Swieboda, who also owns Love Tilly Devine, has his signature flair. The idea is the lobster rolls go perfectly with a chardonnay.
Pretty coolly, you can compare and contrast between French and Aussie styles, taking in a big, buttery oaky-as-all-get-out number from the Adelaide Hills and a crisp, clean, lightly perfumed white burgundy.
Oh, and there's Young Henrys natural lager on tap. Also good with a sambo.
And down to those rolls. The lobster actually does taste different - it's sweet, firm and meaty, served in hunks drenched in warm butter and stuffed into a super-soft toasted roll. (Just on that, whenever you ask a restaurateur where they get their rolls and they say "can't say", you can safely assume they're probably from Breadtop).
But it's a classic egg roll with iceberg lettuce kicked up a few notches with the addition of nori and kombu, and a scattering of deep-fried shallot that comes out swinging. Pair it with a glass of New Zealand chenin blanc for all the best flavours of a picnic without leaving the bar.
So. That sweet, sweet imported elephant in the room. The crew is bringing in American lobster - those big, red-clawed guys famous in New England. So the question is, if the product tastes better (or at the very least quite different) than the Australian version, is it OK to import and use it? We do it with jamon, olive oil and cheese. Why is seafood any different?
Internet trolls, set your keyboards to "abuse". We're ready for you.
Pro tip: Order a magnum of sherry, four straws and make some new friends.
Try this: The egg sandwich is a picnic party in three bites.
Like this? Want your lobster roll with a view? Check out the mini version at Coogee Pavilion, 169 Dolphin Street, Coogee, 02 9240 3000.