I’ve claimed to be done with blogging, or at least with blogging about food and beverages. I was feeling uninspired, there were too many people doing the same thing, my writing was getting repetitive and stale, my phone camera (which I rely on for food photos when out and about) is super-crappy (yes, I’m still toiling along with that BlackBerry, AKA the VCR of cell phones)…my handful of excuses all amounted to pretty much the same thing: boredom. My food blogging days were done.
Done until I tasted the Frita Batidos version of a lobster roll, that is.
I could wax poetic about both lobster rolls and Frita Batidos at length – in fact, I’ve done so here and here. The idea of combining the two was almost unfathomable. It was either going to be the most wonderful or most horrible thing on the planet. I knew it would be – there could not possibly be any middle ground with this one.
To recap for those not inclined to click backlinks and read my old posts: a traditional New England lobster roll is served one of two ways: A) hot, meaning the only condiment is lots and lots of clarified butter or B) cold, meaning the lobster chunks are combined with mayo/other ingredients into a lobster salad. Both versions are served on a hot dog roll. This is not the same thing as a hot dog bun. The hot dog roll is split open on the top rather than on one side. The exposed bread on the sides toasts up splendidly. It’s genius, really, and I’m not entirely sure why we don’t get rid of the stupid bun all together.
As usual, I digress.
I have an aversion to mayonnaise that generally makes a cold lobster roll a less-appealing option. I like the sweet meat dripping in butter and not much else. But here in landlocked (or at least freshwater-locked) land of the Mitten, I was willing to take what I could get.
I really knew nothing about Frita’s version going in other than the fact that it existed (thank you, Facebook – finally, “liking” a bar or restaurant has actually paid off). I placed my order and then immediately placed an order for a mojito to calm my nerves as I waited. (That proved to be an excellent idea in itself. Frita Batidos makes a mean mojito – just enough sugar to take the edge off the rum and tasting more of fresh lime and mint than anything. I highly recommend it.)
I was approximately halfway through my mojito when my meal arrived. After intense visual scrutinizing, I came to the following conclusions:
- This was not so much a “roll” as a sandwich. It was served on the soft egg brioche bun that Frita’s serves its Fritas on. The interior of the bun was toasted.
- We were looking at a “cold” roll; AKA a lobster salad situation. However, the goop of the salad was an orange-ish color, which I deduced was most likely the sweet chili mayo that comes on many a Frita and as a dipping sauce for the fried plantains. (Have I mentioned Frita Batidos plantains? The delicious, garlic-y, cilantro-y double-fried plantains? These are a MUST try.)
- The lobster salad was topped with Frita’s tropical coleslaw, which I knew from experience to be very crunchy with fruity, fresh flavors.
- The bun was overflowing with chunks of lobster meat – a great sign.
Once the visual inspection was complete, I smelled it (my 201o holiday stint at Zingerman’s Mail Order left me with what some consider the rather peculiar habit of smelling all my food before I eat it). I smelled the chili mayo and a sweet; subtle seafood-y smell (not too strong or fishy – a good indicator that the meat was pretty fresh); and a very slightly fruity smell, most likely from the tropical slaw.
It was finally time to take a bite. There would be no going back. Was I setting myself up for an incredible taste experience or the biggest disappointment of my life?* (*That might be a bit of an exaggeration.)
My teeth sank through the soft bun and before hitting the pleasant crunch of the toasted interior followed by the slaw, immediately contrasted by the slightly chewy meat held together by the not-quite-goopy mayo mixture. I crunched through the bottom layer of bun and pondered the flavor combination as I chewed through the pleasant variety of textures. I noticed that the salad was not quite cold – almost room temperature, possibly warmed from the heat of the bun. It was actually a great temperature and really let the flavors shine through.
And what flavors they were.
Lobster meat has a bit of natural sweetness to it, so adding a little heat from the chili mayo and the fruitier elements of the slaw were actually quite complimentary. It had a kick from the mayo without being “hot” – just flavorful. The bun itself had sort of an egg-y, buttery flavor – extremely subtle and mild, but more discernible than regular processed white bread/buns. There was nothing abrasive in the taste of the sandwich – just very harmonious elements combining for a fresh, slightly sweet mouth explosion.
The lobster Frita – I’m not sure I should call it a lobster roll – is on the messy side – but then again, so are most of the sandwiches at Frita Batidos. They are literally bursting out of the buns. As long as you aren’t particular about things like licking fingers or picking up chunks of food with your hands, this is NOT a problem – just something to note.
I asked our server about the availability of the lobster Frita. She told me it was originally something that the chef (Eve, I’m assuming) wanted to try out for a limited time, but that the reception has been excellent. In fact, it sells out most nights. Our server indicated that the restaurant might be toying with the idea of keeping it around, but she wasn’t sure.
I hope they do. In the meantime, call, check Facebook, do whatever you need to do to find out if the lobster Frita is being served – and if you find that it, go get it immediately. It’s not a New England lobster roll, but it might just be the most delicious sandwich in Ann Arbor.