The OpenTable Blog

Lobster Season: 11 Shell-icious Dishes to Dig Into

Summer may be over, but it’s not too late to get in on peak lobster season. While we won’t turn down lobster any time of year, new shell season is the best time to eat it — that time of year where lobsters who have outgrown their shell trade up to the next size. When they shed the old shell, they have a bit of room in the new one, which is taken up by salt water that marinates the meat and helps make it both saltier and a bit sweeter. The meat is also more tender, allowing seasoning in dishes to penetrate it more. The season varies each year but includes September and October, and sometimes stretches into November. To take advantage, we’ve rounded up some of the best, most creative lobster dishes from across the country. Bib up and dig into lobster season.

Lobster Roe Noodles, Island Creek Oyster Bar, Boston, Massachusetts
You’ll want to eat your weight in oysters at this hotspot near Fenway Park, but save room for the Lobster Roe Noodles, a pasta made with lobster roe and topped with a rich red wine and veal stock-based sauce with braised short rib, grilled lobster, oyster mushrooms, and Pecorino cheese. Make a reservation at Island Creek Oyster Bar.

Lobster Season

Maine Lobster Diavolo, Quality Italian, New York, New York
This lobster isn’t only spicy — the tomato pepper sauce is made with piquillo peppers, roasted and pickled — it’s flamed tableside with chili-infused vodka. Hot! Make a reservation at Quality Italian.

Lobster Season

Estilo Puerto Nuevo Lobster, Playa Amor, Long Beach, California
At this casual waterfront restaurant, chef Thomas Ortega has created a menu of Mexican-style seafood dishes, including this Estilo Puerto Nuevo Lobster, which is griddled in clarified butter and served with rice and beans and fresh flour tortillas. Make a reservation at Playa Amor.

Lobster Season

Lobster Roll Croissant, Union Fare, New York, New York
This is a lobster roll with a New York twist — lobster salad made with mayo, sriracha, and Old Bay seasoning is served atop a toasted everything bagel croissant. Make a reservation at Union Fare.

Lobster season

Lobster Roll, Hinoki & The Bird, Los Angeles, California
At this fusion restaurant inspired by the Silk Road, the lobster roll gets an international twist. The lobster is dressed in a green curry aioli accented with Thai basil, and the roll gets its dramatic black hue from charcoal powder. Make a reservation at Hinoki & The Bird.

Lobster Season

Lobster Curry, Crave Fishbar, New York City, New York
This red Thai curry is full of charred red onion, Japanese eggplant, Thai apple eggplant, bamboo shoots — and the meat of a whole lobster. Make a reservation at Crave Fishbar.

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Research + Development: Top Chef Star Mike Isabella Eats NYC

Mike Isabella

It’s just after noon on a sunny, mid-Eighties summer day. The weather is as perfect as it gets in New York City during the summertime. Mike Isabella is in the back of a black SUV headed down Seventh Avenue. Sunglasses firmly in place, he’s wearing jeans and a graphite t-shirt that exposes the tattoos crisscrossing his forearms. Though it’s lunchtime, he’s on his way to visit a couple of coffee shops and an ice cream parlor. It’s not your usual eating agenda, but that’s because Isabella is here to for business rather than pure pleasure.

The chef-restaurateur, who earned widespread acclaim with breakout appearances on Top Chef and Top Chef: All-Stars and recently took home the RAMMY Award for “Restaurateur of the Year” from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, is in town for a whirlwind day of epicurean exploration. He has already been to Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Chicago, California, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Los Angeles as a part of his culinary canvassing. There are further trips planned to Cuba, Argentina, and London.

All the trips are research for his ambitious mega food hall Isabella Eatery, which is set open in the Tysons Galleria mall in McLean, Virginia in late summer 2017. The 41,000 square foot, multi-concept endeavor aims to be the crowning – and potentially defining – centerpiece of his growing restaurant empire in the D.C. area, which includes his Italian-American small plates and pizza joint Graffiato, (which also has a location in Richmond, Virginia), forward-thinking Greek eatery Kapnos, lead by fellow Top Chef alum George Pagonis, Medi-minded Requin, helmed by another Top Chef-er, Jennifer Carroll, Yona noodle bar, breezy Mexican cantina Pepita Cantina, and others.

Isabella Eatery will house 10 separate entities, including versions of Graffiato, Kapnos, Yona, Requin, and Pepita, as well as five brand-new concepts: Retro Creamery ice cream parlor, Trim steakhouse, Non-Fiction Coffee, Octagon Bar, and Arroz, a Spanish-Portuguese-Moroccan restaurant. Within the concepts there are variety of service options: full service, fast casual, and grab ‘n’ go. Isabella hopes the heightened service – not to mention the food – will vastly elevate it from your usual mall food courts with their bolted down chairs, plastic trays, and impersonality.

Mike Isabella

Today he’s particularly focused on ideas for the café, creamery, the ramen at Yona, and the bar program at Arroz. “Hopefully, I’ll see some cool presentations, design, uniforms, flavors, service steps, paper goods, and techniques,” says Isabella as we near the Roost coffee shop, our first stop in the East Village.

Inside the rusticated shop with white tile walls, marble countertops and a full bar in the back hiding behind a wooden bar door, we rendezvous with James Horn. The day’s unofficial tour guide previously worked as Isabella’s wine and service director and is now the director of operations of New York City’s Añejo Restaurant Group, which includes two locations of Añejo and Abajo. Everyone orders something different, so we can compare. The most compelling element for Isabella ends up being the double-walled glasses the latte is served in, so he takes a picture, and we Uber over to Big Gay Ice Cream.

Mike Isabella

Unabashedly borrowing its aesthetic vibe Eighties cartoons – think My Little Pony and The Care Bears on MDMA – the small shop is decked out with rainbows, unicorns, and vintage action figures. The truck-turned-brick-and-mortar specializes in soft serve cones and sundaes. We sample the Salty Pimp made with vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, and sea salt, all covered in a chocolate shell. The treat attracts Mike’s attention, but not because of its flavors – there’s none of the aforementioned salt – but, rather, because of plastic holder it comes in. It has a rim around the edge, so ice cream doesn’t drip on your clothes while you’re eating it. This thoughtful touch is filed away for potential use at Retro Creamery.

Another coffee shop – Third Rail on Sullivan Street – is next up on the agenda after another quick Uber ride. We order several espresso drinks, which don’t so much as impress as amp up our jitters. “I’m jacked up on caffeine and the sugar from that ice cream,” says Isabella. “Let’s walk to the next spot.”Continue Reading

Parachute in Chicago: Beverly Kim + Johnny Clark on Bringing Modern Korean Fare to the Midwest

Parachute's Beverly Kim & Johnny Clark on Bringing Modern Korean Fare to the Midwest

Parachute in Chicago is a bit of an anomaly in the city’s dining scene. It’s located in a neighborhood not traditionally known for its restaurants, the food isn’t of the meat-heavy variety commonly found in the Midwest, and it’s not run by one of the marquee restaurateurs of the city (think Paul Kahan or Stephanie Izard). But that hasn’t prevented this modern Korean-American spot, run by Top Chef alum Beverly Kim and her husband John Clark, from becoming one of the most popular and exciting places to eat right now in Chicago. Within its first year of being open, Parachute received three stars in the Chicago Tribune and was named one of Bon Appétit‘s hottest new restaurants in America.

As Parachute enters its third year of existence with no sign of the crowds dying down, we spoke to Kim and Clark about the restaurant’s early successes, their love for Chicago, and what’s next for their tiny but mighty destination. Continue Reading

Election Drinks and Dishes: Red or Blue, It’s Up to You

Every four years, autumn shepherds the start of election season. As the leaves turn colors, so do cocktails and specials in restaurants around the country. In honor of that and National Voter Registration Day, we present election drinks and dishes that embrace the spirit of the campaigns and the candidates. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find many of these specials at restaurants in our nation’s capital.

SideBAR, New York, New York
This Union Square sports bar is game on with a couple of fun presidential candidate cocktails. They are: Hillary Clinton’s Secret Server, an Apple Martini which gives a nod to her stint as the Big Apple’s Senator but which also features blackberries because, well, you know. And, wait for it…The Donald Drumpf, a towering Apple Pie Punch (Amaretto, Sour Apple Pucker, and Goldschlager with gold flakes, and served in a Mr. Potato Head.) The cocktail is priced at $50 “because like Trump, it’s ‘huuge’,” says a restaurant spokeswoman. Oh dear. Make a reservation at SideBAR.

Election Drinks and Dishes

Del Frisco’s Grille, Hoboken, New Jersey
Del Frisco’s has debuted political burgers — The Donald and The Hillary — nationwide in its 21 restaurants “to give diners the chance to enjoy a couple of classic American burgers before moving to Canada.” Order The Donald and you’ll get a well-done prime beef patty (he’s known to order steaks well done), aged cheddar cheese, heirloom tomato, and Bibb lettuce on a gold bun served with a side of tiny pickles. The Hillary burger is classified — Grille guests can send an email to TheHillary@dfrg.com to receive burger details. Oh boy. Make a reservation at Del Frisco’s Grille.

Election Drinks and Dishes

FireLake Grill House, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The bar team here crafted a cocktail menu inspired by this year’s presidential mix: Feel the Bern, (Illegal Mezcal Joven, fresh lime juice, Sprite, and sriracha hot sauce). For the Republican presidential candidate “that always must have the last word,” FireLake came up with the Last Word, pictured, (J. Carver Grimm Farm Gin, Green Chartreuse, Luxardo, and fresh lime juice.) And, as a shout out to Ted Cruz being born in Canada, there’s the Maple Leaf cocktail with Evan Williams Bourbon, lemon juice, and maple syrup garnished with a cinnamon stick. Make a reservation at FireLake Grill House.

Election drinks and dishes

The Grill Room, Washington, D.C. 
Executive chef Frank Ruta of this D.C. politico favorite restaurant in the Rosewood Hotel has curated Red and Blue Plate prix-fixe lunch specials. A sampling: from the Red Menu, you’ll find the Texas-Style Pulled Pork Sandwich on Texas Toast. From the Blue Menu, check out the Maine Lobster Salad. And bartenders Cecilio Silva and Ismael Barreto crafted three election-themed cocktails to pair with the lunch specials — Thyme to Decide (gin, honey syrup, lemon juice, and blackberries, garnished with a thyme leaf), The Green Card (vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, and Blue Curacao, garnished with blueberries and lemon twist), and Pacific Blue (Mescal, honey, lime, ginger syrup and garnished with a lime wheel and basil leaves). There’s also weekly informal polling to see which cocktail gets the popular vote, too. Make a reservation at The Grill Room.

Election drinks and dishes

Lincoln, Washington, D.C.
This restaurant is a shout-out to Honest Abe, and if you cast your order for one of the presidential cocktails through Election Day, your sip preference will be tallied on a blackboard at the bar. The results of the cocktail voter poll are updated every Friday on the restaurant’s Facebook page. Drink choices include The Trump Tower, a smug twist on the classic Negroni with Earl Gre- Infused Absolut Elyx, Aperol, and Dolin Blanc. Hillary’s Inbox features nonclassified ingredients — Absolut Elyx, Drambuie, Blue Curacao, Orgeat syrup, lime juice, and soda. Make a reservation at Lincoln.

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