CHICAGO - Lobster rolls are all over the eastern seaboard, but there are several places in Chicago making decent versions.
These traditional sandwiches, served in top-loaded hot dog buns, are now showing up at the merchandise mart, thanks to a New York City-based chain that is hoping to plant a few more stores here.
The mart is actually the second location for Luke's Lobster in Chicago. They pride themselves on responsible sourcing from lobstermen in and around Maine.
And with their second store now open here, they're hoping to spread the gospel of not only lobster rolls, but shrimp and crab as well.
Luke's Lobster was born of a problem. Its founder, living in New York City at the time, couldn't find a lobster roll that reminded him of home.
"All the places he found were white tablecloth, $30 for a lobster roll, and they weren't up to the standard he was used to being from Maine," said Benjamin Trestrail, the Regional Manager of the stores here in Chicago.
So he opened a business that has now spread to Chicago, recently opening its second location at the Merchandise Mart. New England-style hot dog buns are first rubbed with melted butter on the sides, and griddled until lightly browned. Mayo is squirted along the interior walls, then exactly a quarter pound of lobster meat, sourced directly from Cape Seafood, their company in Maine.
"Vertically integrated with our seafood all the way from the dock, with the fishermen who we have relationships with, to the lobster roll we hand over to our guest. We know exactly where it goes throughout the entire process and it's always in our hands," said Trestrail.
A bit of melted butter adds a touch of richness and a final dash of seasoning is all it needs. There's also chowder, quite good, from the Hurricane Soup Company in Maine, as well as one seasonal option. In addition to lobster, they also offer boiled shrimp or crab meat rolls. The prep is disarmingly simple.
"We drizzle some lemon butter on it and then a sprinkle of our secret seasoning. That's all it is. That's the Maine style, so we want to keep it that way," he said.
Extra Course: Side dishes at Luke's Lobster
In Steve's extra course, he talks about some of the side dishes they serve at Luke's, just in case you're not interested in lobster, crab or shrimp rolls.
222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza
134 N LaSalle Dr.