The Lobster Shack, North Berwick, review - mark the start of summer with lobster, chips and the seaside
Try a blissful alfresco lunch on The Old Pier
When I was a teenager, I dreaded this time of year.
I wanted to skulk underneath my winter rock, like an angsty woodlouse, and wear my shapeless ski jacket forever.
Now that I’m middle-aged, whenever I emerge from winter and the harshest bits of spring, I want to kiss the ground with sweet relief.
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Surviving another cold spell is a cause for celebration, especially now we can't afford to go hygge by putting the heating on.
These days, when summer comes around, I’m almost grieving for it before it’s even started.
I also feel that I have to approach it very cautiously, for fear of startling and, thus, cursing it.
Once it’s undeniably here, it’s important to eke out every millisecond, flood myself with vitamin D, give all the swallows a bosie, and rotate my sunglasses wardrobe thrice daily.
I will cast all my clouts - at once and everywhere.
My first proper day of summery joy involved a stop at The Lobster Shack - owned by Stirling and Jela Stewart, who also have North Berwick’s Rocketeer restaurant. It’s on The Old Pier at the busy harbour near the Seabird Centre. This is not my first visit to the couple’s seasonal food truck, which serves its grub from Wednesday to Sunday, noon until 6pm.
To paraphrase the B52s, this is a little old place where we can get together.
Thanks to the sporadic sunshine, other hungry people had gravitated here, and at 12.15pm, there was already a long queue. No matter, as we had colourful boats, including one called Surf ‘n’ Turf, to look at and an over-heated wolfhound ahead of us in the queue, to stroke. Once you make it to the front and order, they give you a buzzer to take to a bench, or into their transparent marquee, which has a red and white striped awning and looks like a human aquarium. I think they should add some neon rocks and drop some flakes in from the top.
The fish and chips and seafood chowder were proving popular, but I was here for the namesake - the half lobster and chips (£24.95). You can have this sustainably sourced and locally caught beast with garlic butter, or chimichurri. I went for the green herby option, and it was fantastic. I’m often a bit underwhelmed by the Daddy Warbucks of crustaceans - too much picking, for not much meat, and I’m not keen on the occasionally acrid tinge. However, this cross-section in profile was a sweetie, and I picked the flesh out of all of its crevices, using the wooden poking stick that was provided. The juices, and the chimichurri filtered through the shell and saturated the huge portion of perfect ‘double dipped’ chips.
I probably would have been even happier with a glass of their wine or Prosecco, a whole bottle of Taittinger Champagne, or their own Lobster Shack Lager, but I was on the wagon, in solidarity with the designated driver. We both enjoyed a large tumbler of lemon cordial (£1), which is a good alternative to fizzy pop.
We also shared the salt and pepper squid (£7.70). These hoops were tender and bouncy, rather than ones you could use to play quoits. They had a light and peppery sandy crumb, and came with a wedge of lemon and Sriracha aioli to dip their tangents into.
As a main course, my bench mate had gone for the dressed crab (£16.75). Of course, there had to be a discussion about what the crab would be dressed in. Something comfortable, or would it go for glam? In the end, we decided it should be in a shell suit and pincer-nez. This was also lovely, with cayenne and lemon-y mashed terracotta-coloured meat that was stuffed into its carapace, and some virginal white flesh too. There were more of those soft chips, and a vibrant salad, with interesting leaves, as well as beetroot, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and radish. All of their food and drink was housed in Vegware’s compostable packaging.
While I was sitting on our bench, reading its dedication (to a couple who had loved this spot), and eating wonderful food, I had my first proper summer moment.
I will save it, and attach it to the others that are hopefully still to come, like a daisy chain. The sun was on my back, there were cute dogs to look at, and I had a few chips left.
We made it. At least, I think so. Just say it quietly, for now.
Love rules, at The Lobster Shack.
The Old Pier
07910 620 480, www.lobstershack.co.uk
How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £49.40