Florida spiny lobster season opens today and runs through March 31, meaning restaurants across South Florida should begin to stock the tasty, clawless buggers. The operative word here is should. Because, in reality, Florida lobster is a lot harder to get your mits on in a restaurant than you'd think. Many places don't plan on carrying the sea critters this season, citing availability, price, and less desirability next to their Maine or cold water Australian cousins. The later part is BS: while there are no claws to eat on a spiny lobster, the meat in the tail and body is soft and succulent. The rest of it, well, if it's so hard to get, how are some restaurants planning on serving it every day? We do live in Florida, after all - shouldn't this unique Florida staple be readily available to the people who live here? Regardless, check out our list below of some of the better known places in Broward and Palm Beach to see whether or not they'll be serving spiny lobster this season.
The Have Nots:
To start with, what big name places are not serving spiny? For one, argent supporter of local foods, Johnny V,
won't carry it; at least not at his namesake Las Olas Restaurant. I
called up to ask and a manager told me that Florida lobster "Is kind of
hard to get your hands on as a restaurant since the season is open to
the public." Are recreational fisherman really making it that hard for
commercial outfits using traps and nets to snag enough stock? Seems
suspect, to me.
The Kinda Haves:
I got a few "maybes" from my calls to other restaurants. A gentelman at Eduardo de San Angel
put me on hold when I asked him and came back with an answer from Chef
Eduardo Pria. "He said he'll
probably do it once a week during this season." I'd really like to
taste what Pria could put together with some fresh lobster. But again,
your best bet is to call up before hand and ask.
might run spiny lobster as a weekly special, as well. The employee who
answered suggested I try their Maine lobster roll, which is always on the menu.
Finally, the most interesting answer came from Rino's Tuscan Grillon
Las Olas. General Manager Gabriel told me they did not carry Florida
lobster, but had some great Maine lobster raviolli. When I asked him
why they didn't bother with our native version, he offered to get me some. "I tell you what, I'm busy right now but if you
call back again tomorrow at 4 p.m. I can order you some Florida
Lobster," he pleaded in a thick accent. "We
can do it for you in a really nice way. Fra Diavolo, with clams and
mussels, you're going to love it, I promise you." Anyone want to take him up on that? Call 954-766-8700.
- The newish Boca Raton seafood house is planning on selling Florida
spinys at market price on a daily basis. Call to confirm availability,
561-487-1600. 7940 Glades Rd., Boca Raton.
- Promised they will have Florida lobster this season, though the chef
was not available to answer specific questions about availability and
price. 1900 SE 15th St.,
Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-763-2777.
Another interesting call. When I asked whether or not they'd have
spinys, the woman on the other end covered the phone with her hand and
screamed out to someone, "Hey! This guy wants to know if our lobster is
from Florida!" It wasn't exactly my question, but I got a quick response. She uncovered the phone: "Yes it is." A few minutes later a
fellow named Brandon called me back, but since I was on the other line,
he left me a message. "We won't have whole lobsters available," he
said, "But we will have Florida
lobster tail every day." So there you go. 7367 N. State Rd. 7,
Parkland. Call 954-345-4268.
Finally, the best likely place to get Florida lobster looks to be
Marumi sushi in Plantation. Melissa, the manager told us, "Yes, our
diver will be bringing it in all the time once season starts." She
added that you should call ahead for availability, since they usually
only buy in a few at a time. "[Florida] had a very good mini season,
though, so it should be consistant." At $1.20 an ounce for a whole
lobster, Marumi's spiny is an absolute steal. You can get it done up in
a number of ways: as crystaline chunks of sashimi; with onion and
pepper as ceviche; grilled open face and spooned with a wild mushroom,
onion, and sake butter mixture; tempura battered and served with a
light, spicy aoli. They'll even take the shell, head, and legs and make you soup out of it.
Options are pretty much endless. Call ahead: 954-318-4455.