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Is Lobster the New Crab?

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Move aside crab cake. The lobster roll is muscling in on Delaware menus.

What’s the appeal? “It boggles my mind,” says Eric Sugrue, managing partner of the Big Fish Restaurant Group.

Perhaps it’s the availability of a sandwich that was previously confined to New England. And at the beach, lobster rolls are yet another item that appeases the visitors’ cravings for seafood. Whatever the reason, Sugrue is going with the flow. “We’re putting them on every location’s menu,” he says.

The roll is already a star at the group’s Trolley Square Oyster House in Wilmington, which opened last year. Priced at $21, the chilled meat is tossed with brown butter mayo and spices and tucked with a lettuce leaf into a split-top frankfurter roll. It comes with sea salt-malt vinegar chips.

Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls, a casual quick-serve restaurant that opened in March in downtown Rehoboth Beach, offers $14 rolls that come chilled with a little mayo and lemon butter (the Classic) or warm with butter (the Connecticut). There are no lettuce frills or chive sprinkles—it’s all about the meat.

Owner Dan Beck spotted the lobster roll trend in 2001, when he was working in the commercial seafood industry. He noted that some food trucks and restaurants in the D.C. area were selling them to eager customers.

He conducted research—eating—in Maine. “We wanted to replicate the feel of a New England lobster shack,” he says. “Eating lobster rolls in this area usually happens in a nice restaurant. But in Maine or Cape Cod, it’s a little shack on the side of the road, almost like we eat crabs here.”

Will the lobster roll ever replace the blue crab as our favorite seafood? Only time will tell.

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