One of my issues with the Lobster Bar is that they make arguably false claims with abandon; my view is that if you have a good product, you don't need to make stuff up. The latest is a tweet from the kiddie marketeer who runs their twitter account.
Did you know that we get FRESH seafood in everyday? The fish you're eating for lunch was swimming in the ocean less than 48 hours ago!
I'll chalk it up to ignorance more than blatant lying, but it's so highly likely that it's false that nobody with a sense of integrity would say it. First, LBSG gets their fish from the same commercial suppliers as most other restaurants.
Lobster Bar Delivery
I have a feeling that the "South Florida's Freshest Seafood" is questionable too, but I digress.
This truck was spotted behind the restaurant at 2pm, so it's likely that any fish you're having for lunch as been in the restaurant for a full day.
So is the Lobster Bar Sea Grill Guaranteeing all of the following?:
1) The fish you're eating for lunch was caught on a day boat.
2) The fish you're eating for lunch was delivered that morning
3) The fish that you're eating never spent more than 1/2 a day on a boat or in distribution
None of these things can be guaranteed by the restaurant, and in fact they all are unlikely. They don't sell every piece of fish they get delivered the same day, and distributors don't ship fish the same day it was caught, or even the next day.
Meanwhile, LBSG advertises on it's menu that most of it's whole fish is from Europe, which makes it even more unlikely that they've received it "line-to-table" in less then 48 hours.
The Truth about Fresh Fish
When fish are first caught, they go into rigor-mortis for a day or so, and you don't want to eat fish until the flesh relaxes. So the idea of eating 'same-day' caught fish sounds good but isn't really good in practice.
Some fish, such as Turbot, are best eaten 4-5 days after being caught. Don't be giving me any 2 day old Turbot.
What we have here is a restaurant that has trusted their brand to amateurs who know nothing about the business.
On a coldish day I decided to stay local, and fish fits my diet nicely. I was thinking about salmon; I checked the menu at Big City, Cheesecake factory, Grille 401 and Lobster Bar Sea Grill to see what they had. jump-->Big City gets $18 for salmon with tomato slices, Grille 401 has salmon with BBQ sauce, Cheesecake has "Lunch Salmon" for $13.95 or Skinnylicious for $17.95; it's not clear what's different. I opted for the $19 dish here, just because it was time to try the place again.
At 1:50, there were 7 customers at 3 tables; the bar was completely empty. Never a problem getting a booth at lunch time here. I gave them a fake last name so they were calling me "Mr Lastname" throughout the experience. It makes me smile when they do.
Lobster Bar Sea Grill Interior
I ordered iced tea; they only have 1 special; fish of the day which was Mahi. Great, can't I get that at any restaurant in Fort Lauderdale?
Lobster Bar Sea Grille Iced Tea
I went over the menu to see if there was anything else that caught my eye. They have lunch steaks that they describe as "Prime"; the "Prime" Filet is $9 less than the dinner filet. Knowing this restaurant; they don't really discount lunch or happy hour, they just give smaller portions or lower quality wines; I'm virtually certain that they're not USDA Prime. So I wasn't falling for that trick.>
I ordered the Salmon and sub'd Spinach for the Quinoa and Kale; There's no better pairing than Spinach with Salmon.
They play pleasant music and the servers dress nice and call you sir, but there's no bread; what "5 star" restaurant do you know that doesn't serve bread? The salmon came out; a good amount of spinach with a weak protein portion but that wasn't unexpected. Buckhead is pretty consistent in that way.
Lobster Bar Sea Grille Lunch Salmon
The salmon was fine, and the spinach was nicely sauteed. Considering I'm on a diet, it was just the right amount of food.
Lobster Bar Sea Grill Lunch Salmon
Not a lot of food for $28, but a quiet, pleasant experience.
Restaurants like to tell tall tales about how their fish is fresher than other restaurants; Buckhead claims that their fish are "flown-in daily".
Lobster Bar Sea Grill Fish Delivery
Just to squash any ideas that the fish you're getting at Lobster Bar Sea Grille is any different from the fish you get at any other restaurant, here's a fairly large delivery from a standard wholesaler. From their product list, they supply every fish on the Lobster Bar menu, including "Dorade Royale" aka Royal Dorade and Dover Sole.
Lobster Bar Sea Grill Delivery
Bar Harbor Seafood has a little seafood shack up in Orlando and they deliver to restaurants throughout South Florida.
These are the same purveyors that supply every other restaurant from Miami to Jupiter. >
The high hopes I had for the Lobster Bar Sea Grille were deflated before they opened, when we discovered that their initial description of the restaurant wasn't true; the description that I read in Atlanta Business Chronicle isn't the restaurant that they opened. The prices are higher than Chops Lobster Bar, which is perhaps the most expensive restaurant in Boca Raton.
It is an attractive space with subway-style tiles and ceilings similar to the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. I'd been in the bar a few times, but they started serving lunch last week so I thought I'd try to get the dining room experience.
Of course the hostess tried to seat me near the bar in a restaurant with 2 tables occupied; I pointed to the dining room. They stop serving lunch at 2:30 and it was 2:10, so it's not like they were getting a big rush. I got a booth about mid dining room and opened the menu. It was a dinner menu with the appetizer panel missing. I'm one of the few people who know the difference between their lunch and dinner menus since I've actually seen them; I wondered if they were trying to pull one over on me. I waved over the hostess and she giggled and said that they mixed them up; very suspicious.
I'm not crazy about their lunch menu; a seafood restaurant that doesn't have much seafood; I can get Salmon or a lobster roll at any restaurant in town; The special was Turbot, but they didn't mention the price and I don't like to ask. I decided on the "Steak and Wedge", which is described as a "loaded" wedge salad with sliced tenderloin for $19. Since they advertise the restaurant as a prime steakhouse, I figured I'd get 2-3oz of beef and a big salad, but that was fine. I got an iced tea with extra lemon and the "house filtered" water service, which is free.
It didn't take me long to decide that I didn't like the layout of the dining room. With the "kitchen" in the middle of the room, just about every table has 1 or 2 chairs facing it; I prefer more privacy. There's no privacy anywhere in this restaurant.
Lobster Bar Sea Grille Dining Room
The iced tea and water came out, but there is no bread. Pretty lame for a place that charges $19 for a salad.
Lobster Bar Sea Grille Beverages
There's no music in the place, and the service is overdone. They ask you for your last name and address you as Mr Lastname; of course I don't like telling everyone my last name so I gave them my first name, so it was pretty comical.
When the salad came out, my hopes of having a decadent lunch at a prime steakhouse were immediately dashed.
Lobster Bar Sea Grill Steak and Wedge Salad
Good grief, chopped unripe tomatoes and bacon bits in a high-end restaurant? And who slices beef tenderloin into chunks? Just so they can stuff them into a giant onion ring? No red onions on the salad (just some green onion garnish), and I found 1 chunk of blue cheese. This was as weak a wedge salad as I've had at any restaurant. The one I got at their other restaurant, City Fish Market was much better than this.>
The meat was no better.
Lobster Bar Sea Grille
I didn't recall if the menu said this was a tenderloin; it tasted more like a sirloin. Unseasoned and tough. I asked my server what cut it was and he said it was a tenderloin. If it was, it was a really bad one. I'm guessing that it was a sirloin and they're just lying. It certainly wasn't prime meat; It doesn't say it's prime on the menu, but I'd rather have half this amount of a decent steak. Id be disappointed in this steak in any restaurant; but it's doubly disappointing when it comes in a place that's more expensive than Morton's.
Some comedy was offered as 2 servers flipped over the table next to me and the GM proceeded to tighten the bolts on the base. I had to keep myself from laughing; they really couldn't wait until lunch service was over to repair the table? The dining room is closed from 3pm to 5:30pm, how about making your repairs then?
I bought a Buckheads dining card when they had a 20% offer (I bought a $200 card so they put $240 on the card). They call it a gift card, but you can't use it for tax or tip. It's kind of ridiculous; I gave him the card and he comes back with a bill for $1.32.
It adds an annoyance factor to using the card. You can't really give it as a gift; you give someone a gift card and on a $200 dinner they have to lay out $45 for tax and tip?
While their hours are listed as 11:30-2:30 and 5:30-Close, apparently they're open all day. I asked the Valet why he was still there at 2:55 since happy hour doesn't start until 4:30. He didn't seem quite sure himself; he said something about the bar being open for appetizers. Really? Who knew?
The bean counters are in charge of this place. They'll never go national with these prices and this food. You'll never have trouble getting a table here for lunch.>
When Buckhead's first announced the Lobster Bar Sea Grille, their press release said the following:
The Lobster Bar Grille will feature a more approachable menu and check average than the original Chops Lobster Bar with menu selections to appeal to a broader market.
Apparently, they changed their minds. Lobster Bar Sea Grille is even more expensive than Chops Lobster Bar.
We now know why they were reluctant to put out their menu; and then when they did put it up, they put it up without prices. To me, "more approachable" doesn't mean more.
Lobster Bar Sea Grille vs Chops Lobster Bar Prices
Their porterhouse for 2 is $64 but it's only 26oz, which is 2oz more than Morton's $57 single cut.
One major difference is the "whole fish" menu; at Chops only the Dover Sole is sold as a whole fish. Whole fish are sold at $32 per pound, although they say it's $28 per person for .75 to 1 pound. Whole fish typically yield 50% or less, so a 2 lb Pompano will yield maybe 12 oz of skin-off filets; so you'll pay $64 for 2 6oz filets. As a reference, whole Snapper goes for under $5/lb, so there's quite a nice markup.
Lobster Bar Sea Grille Whole Fish Display
The issue here is the relationship between a restaurant and a neighborhood. If you want to open a high end, new concept restaurant; fine. Let us know. There's nothing to be gained with deceit.
That being said, they did a nice job building a beautiful restaurant with a big, comfortable lounge. The tiled arches are clearly a borrowed idea from Grand Central's Oyster Bar, and there are too many mirrors for my taste, but it's a nice space.
Lobster Bar Sea Grill Artist's Rendition
There's a big open kitchen in between the dining room and the lounge; there are 2 TVs in the lounge. Negatives are that its a loud room; with a half full restaurant it was loud; this place is going to be very loud at peak times. Also the patio doors create some wind at the bar when opened; not too much of an issue on 80 degree August evenings; of course on very cold evenings it's likely that no-one will be eating outside. I don't like the glass partitions between the tables in the lounge area; do I really need to see the people at the table next to me? The lounge is actually smaller than I thought; on first glance
For a South Florida Thursday night in August, people were pretty dressed up; this will be the kind of crowd where people think they're cool eating a $55 steak at the bar.
Lobster Bar Sea Grille Opening Night
Some early predictions; Wild Sea might as well close their doors; there's no reason to go there at all now. At about the same price point, Lobster Bar is a much more appealing restaurant with a vastly better menu. Local restaurants will lose their high-end business, at least initially, as this will become the hot-spot for the more sophisticated crowd. There's no reason to hang out in YOLO's crowded, uncomfortable bar with the pre-VIBE crowd or to subject yourself to Grille 401's inept menu. Expect Grille 401 to be completely dead for the foreseeable future. If you're taking out a client or want to impress a date; or if you're in town for a day or 2, this is going to be the place to go.
On the other hand, Lobster Bar Sea Grill poses no threat to Big City Tavern, Cheesecake factory or the Royal Pig Pub; the price point here is way too high for the burger and pizza crowd. YOLO will devolve further into the place to get grilled artichokes and potato chips; but there's still plenty of market for horny 25yos.
Be aware that this place isn't ready for prime time. The servers don't know the menu and with a light bar they were overmatched. It's going to be a few weeks before they get it together.
Fort Lauderdale now has a place for Adults with a sophisticated feel and a high end menu. Of course that's what we said about Rare; the difference is that this place is a restaurant first and foremost. Rare tried to be a club and they alienated the entire city. Hopefully Lobster Bar won't make the same mistake.
City Fish Market 7940 Glades Rd Boca Raton FL, 33434 (06/13/2013)