My first time at the Luke’s Lobster in the Upper East side last August was only below satisfactory. I had just returned from losing in the finals of a softball tournament in Jersey and it was burning hot that day. I drove into Manhattan to pick up the wife from work and we decided to have a quick dinner date. We went to Luke’s on 81st and 2nd and there was a line going out the door. Comon! I think we waited a good 10-15 minutes before reaching the counter. We both ordered a lobster roll combo and were thankful to actually find two adjacent seats in the small and crowded hole in the wall. After receiving our order, I was a bit surprised by how small the lobster roll was. If I didn’t take the time to savor it, I could have finished it in two bites. I think because of the long wait, packed restaurant, and unexpected size of my roll, the whole meal in its entirety was not appealing and I was none too pleased. I didn’t care much to file away Luke’s location for a later date as I didn’t plan on returning any time soon.

Last week we were in the city with CJ and the wife was meeting up with a very dear friend who had recently moved away. Afterwards we decided to walk to Luke’s for an early dinner and a second chance. Upon entering, I was relieved to find the restaurant completely empty and all to ourselves. I was dreading the possibility of not being able to maneuver CJ’s stroller into the restaurant, but this was not the case. We ordered Noah’s Ark which consists of two half lobster rolls, two half crab rolls, and two half shrimp rolls with two sodas, chips, and pickles for $38. This was a comparably better deal than ordering two individual lobster roll combos for $17 each as we ended up with two extra halves of a roll for only $4 more.

I started with the shrimp roll, and although it wasn’t heavily flavored with mayo, it was certainly fresh and enjoyable. I then moved on to the crab roll and my first bite was bland.

The wife told me to try the spices in the lobster claw and it contained that type of seafood spice that one finds on top of dungeoness crabs. I covered my crab roll in the spice and it was total bliss. I then proceed to add more spice to my lobster roll and it was beautiful. I loved it. All three rolls were meaty and again, although small, I suppose they’re worth their price considering the freshness of the seafood. The buttered roll was really crispy and nicely toasted, and the included drinks and chips are a nice touch too.

Overall, even though it’s a bit pricey and this particular establishment of Luke’s is small, my second experience here was far superior than my first and has turned my opinion into a favorable one. Because of the convenience of a fast-food restaurant and meaty freshness, I highly recommending trying Luke’s out…at non-eating hours. I rate our experience a 9 out of 10, and will surely return for more.

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