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Luke's Butters Up Union Station Diners

Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call
Luke’s Lobster has opened a stand in the open-air courtyard outside of Union Station, where seafood enthusiasts can grab a lemon-butter drenched lobster roll.

Summering in New England has never been easier.

First, head over to Union Station. Stroll past the delay-addled Amtrak agents and unwieldy luggage-juggling travelers. Promenade out to the open-air “market” courtyard. And then plant yourself in front of the new(ish) Luke’s Lobster stand.

The New York-based seafood operation first sailed into town in 2011, dropping anchor in Penn Quarter (624 E St. NW) that spring. The lobstah love has since spread to full-service shops in the ’burbs (7129 Bethesda Lane, Bethesda, Md.) and Georgetown (1211 Potomac St. NW).

The company finally found its way to the heavily trafficked slab of concrete just outside D.C.’s bustling commuter rail depot this May, opening up a grab-and-go shack specializing in its lemon-butter doused sandwiches.

Ben Conniff, vice president of Luke’s, said the original plan for the satellite spot was to try and lure in some of the breakfast crowd.

That experiment only lasted about a week.

“[Customers] weren’t looking for seafood in the morning. ... So we decided to focus on the things that people have loved us for from the beginning and let the people known for breakfast handle breakfast,” he said of the failed attempt at honing in on neighboring Au Bon Pain’s and Le Pain Quotidien’s bread and butter.

The remaining carte is offered, per one of the on-site attendants, to hungry passersby from 10(ish) in the morning until 7 at night, Mondays through Fridays.

Seafood lovers can indulge in made-to-order lobster, shredded Jonah crab or shrimp rolls filled with crustaceans traditionally plucked from Maine’s coastal waters. That’s not the case this year, due to a shortage of shrimp.

“In those cases, we get shrimp from the MSC-certified sustainable Canadian shrimp fishery,” Conniff explained — though the company website pledges that “when the scientists and fishermen agree that it’s sustainable to fish Maine shrimp again, we will be the first to put it back on the menu.”

Fans of the brick-and-mortar shops will likely be saddened to hear that there are no regional brews (nary a tangy Sea Dog Brewing Co. Blueberry Wheat Ale or crisp Raven Beer Pendulum Pilsner in sight), hearty chowders (plain clam delivers mouthfuls of savory onion and velvety heavy cream; shrimp and corn features dulcet golden niblets, tender potatoes and seasoned little swimmers) or tasty extras (ready-to-eat Jonah crab claws are alternately sweet and just a tad briny, dutifully paying testament to the sunken depths from which they were raised) to be had.

Then again, you don’t need much else once the seafood stuffed-entrees start rolling out.

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