A classic of American beach cuisine takes centre stage in Potts Point
Butter beats everything, they say. And never have truer words been spoken. So when we dropped by new Potts Point eatery Waterman’s Lobster Co, we were thrilled to discover they make a lobster roll where the meat – and the roll – is coated, nay doused, in the stuff. This is our kind of sandwich.
Strictly speaking, there’s room for only two types of lobster roll in this world; each takes its name from a state in New England, the American region where they originated. A Maine-style roll is typically made up of lobster meat that's cooked, cooled and ultimately mixed with mayonnaise, celery, and plenty of salt and pepper. In contrast, the Connecticut-style roll holds warm lobster meat tossed in melted butter – that’s it. Regardless of their differences, each boasts a butter-drenched, toasted hotdog bun. You'll find both at Waterman’s.
We say go for the Connecticut. We are told the bun is from Breadtop (who knew?), and it's just perfect for this sort of thing: light, soft and just sturdy enough to hold all that lobster. It squishes around the meat when you eat it, so the butter drips down your fingers. It’s a bit messy, and you’re going to want to forgo the napkin and just lick it off. Lobster porn! Maybe don't go here with mum.
Waterman's imports its lobsters from the Atlantic Ocean – they argue the meat is sweeter than the spiny rock variety you'll find in Australian waters. We agree. But if you're an ethical eater, you're going to have to weigh up whether you think it's worth breaking a few personal rules.
A step too far? Another sanger to consider is the scallop option. Five perfectly seared pieces of white meat sit atop a bed of just-sweet-enough pea purée, and are dusted with salty pork floss. The dish could use more of the latter – it's surprisingly overpowered by all the other flavours. Order a side of fries to accompany – they come shoestring style, and are coated in a salty, spicy rub that is so right. While you’re at it, order a pickle, too. It’s the American way.
Bar manager Alex Carter (late of Rockpool Bar & Grill) has created a killer cocktail list. Order the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club – it’s Barbados rum shaken with falernum, lime juice and a house-made orange liqueur made by macerating fresh orange zest and coriander seeds in Bulleit bourbon. It’s sour, strong and not too sweet – a few of these at the bar in an evening will do you right.
Not in a cocktail frame of mind? No problem. Co-owner Matt Swieboda also runs Darlinghurst wine bar Love Tilly Devine, so plonk is a big deal here. If you can get it – these guys have bought out the entire vintage – try the 2014 Architect of Wine Chardonnay from the Adelaide Hills. It’s creamy and dense with oaky flavour, yet lemony citrus notes still manage to burst forth. Go all out and order the 375ml carafe – a table of two won’t struggle to get through it.
Wine, of course, calls for oysters, and Waterman’s serves them in droves. There are two types: rock or Pacific. Order the rock if you like them super creamy; Pacific is the go if you’re after a saltier nugget. Both are uniquely excellent and hit it off beautifully with the Chardonnay. The fish rillettes are less sophisticated – sort of like a glob of the tuna salad you'd find in a sandwich. They come with “saltines” that turn out to be the Aussie equivalent, Saladas. (A proper American saltine features, well, actual grains of salt on the cracker.) The carrot salad on the side is fragrant with orange and tarragon. It jazzes things up, but doesn’t elevate the dish from comfort food to posh nosh. Not necessarily a bad thing.
The interior here is far more swish than the traditional lobster shacks you'll find lining the Eastern seaboard of the USA – the front area is dominated by a beautiful brass-top bar, and the rest of the place is all greys, soft woods and elegant glassware. It’s a ritzy look for a sandwich shop. But given lobster is the star of the show, and we're in a city that loves to show off, it makes a certain type of sense. And if we’re bringing those lobsters all this way, they certainly deserve a properly fancy send-off.
|Venue name:||Waterman's Lobster Co||Contact:|
5/29 Orwell St
|Opening hours:||Lunch daily from noon; dinner 5pm-late|