On my way home from a friend’s birthday dinner I passed by Claw — a restaurant that I walk by every single day but have yet to go in. (I pass by every morning when I commute to the subway.) It was 11:15 p.m. and I wasn’t even hungry and I all of a sudden got a huge hankering for lobster mac and cheese. I clearly knew what was on the menu because after reading about the joint on Thrillist, followed by reading several rave reviews on Yelp, I knew I needed to stop it.
Immediately after walking in I noticed how spectacularly clean the restaurant is. It’s only made up of a few tables and it’s definitely an in-and-out sort of joint… no way whatsoever is this a place where you go to sit for a long drawn-out meal. You can also see right into the kitchen — the chefs must have OCD because there wasn’t even food any where to be seen (it was that clean!). Since Claw is open until midnight, there were still people dropping in to pick up some late-night food, from the hard-working business man that just left his office, to a group of what looked like book-club ladies that happened to have strolled in.
Of course Lobster is going to be pricey. Luke’s Lobster truck is pretty much priced the same as Claw, except 1. your lobster comes from a truck, 2. you can’t sit down to eat it, 3. there isn’t a wide menu selection like there is at Claw, 4. There is less lobster in Luke’s serving than Claw’s.
I was all of a sudden craving lobster like you wouldn’t believe. And obviously I had come to the right place where everything is made with lobster — lobster rolls, lobster mac and cheese, lobster quesadillas, lobster bisque, etc etc. But I had to stay calm and think to myself “I will come back, no need to order everything on the menu.” So I stuck with just the Lobster Mac & Cheese and I ordered to go because it was getting late and was about to rain.
I spoke with one of the chefs/owners of the place — a very young guy who was telling me that him and his friends (chefs/other owners) graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and had opened this joint together. Claw in Chelsea is doing so well, they are thinking about opening another location in Midtown! I hope this happens — it would be nice to have more good food options up in the neighborhood where everyone is working. These friends/chefs/owners really know how to cook lobster — they clearly mastered the art of cooking seafood, the proof is in every single bite.
So I ordered the lobster mac and cheese and headed home. I live only a few blocks away but when I walked out Claw’s door the sky opened up and the biggest rain drops I have ever seen started to fall from the sky. It was such a gorgeous night, not having an umbrella didn’t bother me one bit.
When I got home, I opened up my take-out container, turned around to grab a fork and when I went to dig in Mr. Hudson was sniffing down the gigantic lobster claw that was on the top of the macaroni. HUDSON! I DON’T THINK SO! No way was this cat going to chow down on that lobster, sorry buddy.
I was fairly surprised with the choice of macaroni used in this dish. I don’t know why, but I found it pretty different since I’ve never seen Campanelle pasta used in a lobster mac and cheese before (I was also comparing to Catch’s choice of elbow macaroni — I thought their lobster mac and cheese was good… but Claw’s is out of this world!). For those who can’t picture campanelle pasta, it’s the type of pasta that looks like “church bells,” actually the literal translation of campanelle in Italian is “little bells.” (Fun interesting fact for you.) But to my surprise the campanelle was an amazing choice since it did a great job holding on to the lobster and the cheese! After googling what the pasta should be used for, I discovered that the noodle is best in a dish with a thick sauce! And the chef cooked it perfectly, obviously the macaroni was in a to-go container for about 15 minutes, it was hot enough to keep cooking a bit while I carried it home — but the campanelle wasn’t soggy or mushy, it was perfect Al Dente.
The lobster flavor was perfectly infused into every single bite. And large chunks of fresh lobster was distributed around the noodles. Not to mention, there was a claw that was used to top off the macaroni! The brioche bread crumbs that were added to the top add another great texture to the plate as well. So, you have the rich, creamy, crunchy, savory lobster mac and cheese — now what!? Now, I need to return for a lobster roll and lobster quesadillas! The freshness and quality of the food just blew me away, there’s no way I can stay away from this restaurant!
A few more things: I loved the decor in the restaurant. Guess what color was used on the booths… CORAL! It reminded me of the beach, the summer, and it overall completed the ambience!
Since there are only a few tables to sit at, if it’s busy just take the food to-go. I’m always hesitant about taking my food to-go because I am convinced the food tastes differently, but the food carried out at Claw remains perfectly fresh!