I’d seen it a couple of times on my Facebook timeline. “Burger and Lobster with my bae”
Burger and Lobster mmmmm”
“Want to live here!”
“Lobster and prosecco with my girlies”
They are popping up everywhere, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and a couple in London are just a few of the venues they have opened. I never fancied trying the Manchester restaurant at any time but on a Saturday night out in London and failing to book anywhere decent we found ourselves wandering into the SoHo branch and asking if they had a table available.
What first hit me was how busy it was. Having to shout my name to the girl that greeted us and then being shoved into a corner of the bar for a drink while we waited for our table was less than comfortable. We had a drink and we’re shown to our table. Again we felt very cramped, squeezing through the other tables and nearly knocking everything on the floor. Sitting at the table quickly reminded me of the tube ride there, being cramped, closed in and brushing up against strangers that won’t make eye contact.
The staff were very friendly, they were smiling and were very attentive. It was a little forced, I assume they have some sort of script to learn and that all the other Burger and Lobster staff up and down the country say exactly the same things. For example, when waiting for the card machine to print a receipt how many waiters ask their customers if they’re “up to anything exciting tonight?” It’s small talk that should be left for the awkward situation with your barber or taxi driver.
The waiter came and introduced himself when we sat down and explained the menu. What a waste of time that was and how very disappointed I was with the menu, or lack of it. As the name suggests Burger and Lobster just sells burgers and Lobster. This isn’t a fun name like the frog and bucket or dog and duck, it’s actually the entirety of what they sell on their menu that is the name of the restaurant. You can have a burger, a lobster or a lobster roll. That’s it. You can choose to have your Lobster steamed or grilled and you can choose to have chips, salad or coleslaw as your side dish. That’s it. No starters. No veggie option, no variation. Why they don’t add certain things like a chicken burger, a veggie burger, a lobster pasta dish to cater for a wider clientele is confusing. Something to give unsuspecting customers a little bit of choice. Starters especially, the lack of garlic bread was horrifying and deeply distressing.
When the food arrived the disappointment continued. I decided on the lobster roll and had no idea it would be cold. For a kitchen with only two main ingredients to cook you think they would put the effort in to make everything they make the best it can be and a cold lobster mayo sandwich that was most probably made earlier on in the afternoon and unwrapped to order isn’t the best a lobster roll can be. My Girlfriend had the grilled lobster and when I tried it it tasted ok once it was dipped into some garlic butter but I was hardly taken back by it. I’d had lobster before on two occasions. Once was on a boat off the coast of Cuba and it was caught and cooked within minutes which was delightful and the other was with a steak at a restaurant in Bolton which was one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever eaten. This was average at best. Both meals came with chips which were just chips, nothing special, could have been the ones from Frankie and Bennies. Tasted frozen. One drink each and the bill came to £60. A shocking amount for a meal for two with no starters, no desserts, two drinks and little choice.
For a restaurant to just sell 2 things is a very bold and boastful move. It says “taste our lobster and burgers, they are the best lobster and burgers ever!” I’ve been to restaurants before that have pages and pages of choice on the menu and I become very sceptical about the quality of the food. In good restaurants there is enough to please everybody yet not enough to take the chefs focus off the quality of what they are cooking. In this case the cooks only have two or three things to cook so when it isn’t anything but perfect you have to ask questions. With the prices Burger and Lobster charge and the amount of covers they can cook for along with the amount of front of house staff you would think that the kitchen would be heavily staffed too. Maybe it’s a case of too many cooks spoiling the lobster as I can’t see a massive amount of work to do for anymore than three or four chefs.
It’s a fad if there ever was one and I would be surprised if it continues for more than another couple of years unless they change the name to Burger, Lobster and Garlic Bread.