In honor of Cheap Eats Week, and as Eater's token Mainer, I was enlisted to take the new McDonald's lobster roll for a spin. While the McRib seems to elicit guilty pleasure in its cult following, I haven't seen the lobster roll pique anything but morbid curiosity. Let me set the record straight: despite what the man-on-the-street taste testers for a local Portland newspaper said, this roll is not worth your $7.99 ($8.63 after tax).
I tried to watch the kitchen prep process, but couldn't see the inner workings clearly. It took all of one minute for the roll to appear in a takeout container so I could scurry to a table out front, to dissect the dish away from the prying eyes of 17 year old employees sporting "100% Lobster. 100% Good" t-shirts.
The limp bun holds a bizarrely large amount of lettuce, both shredded and whole-leaf, neither of which is anything more than filler. There's plenty of mayo, liberally mashed in with globs of shredded lobster meat in some awful sort of seafood salad. It's crowned by a lobster claw, which, when eaten individually, has the faint taste of lobster, but none of the succulence of the best of its kind. If you didn't see what you were eating, I don't think you'd guess, and I doubt you'd continue.
In "U Don't Know," Jay-Z boasts, "I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell/I am a hustler baby, I'll sell water to a well." With a resume like that, Hova might be able to sell dismal, pre-frozen, vaguely identified "North Atlantic" lobster rolls to New Englanders. But once-mighty McDonald's is hemorrhaging money and downsizing for perhaps the first time ever. Diners have seen the unsightly chinks in its armor. Talk about a bad time to try to pull a fast one on a proud seafaring people.
If you don't live near the ocean, this menu item might make sense. For those of us on the crustacean-rich coast, there's no reason for its existence. I wouldn't eat this farce again for any price.