New Orleans is a seafood city, but one shellfish dish isn’t readily available in Crescent City: the lobster roll. Joel Griffin changes that with his pop-up, Joel’s Lobster Rolls.
This pop-up sits in Uptown spots serving the New England staple, tasty lobster on buttered bread.
Griffin, a Connecticut native, moved to New Orleans five years ago to study business at Tulane. He grew up with lobster rolls, which Griffin says are served all over New England, from restaurants to gas stations.
When he was a teenager, Griffin got a job at Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale in Madison, Connecticut, a clam shack that served lobster rolls. Here he learned to make lobster rolls and other New England seafood specialties.
“I always compare lobster rolls in New England to fried chicken here,” he said. “They are everywhere. Every restaurant has them, and even McDonald’s sometimes offers lobster rolls.
However, in New Orleans, the selection of lobster rolls is virtually non-existent, except for a few restaurants that occasionally offer the sandwich as a special. For instance, fat boy pantry has a fried lobster po’boy on its menu, but any New Englander will tell you that’s not the same as a real lobster roll.
“Since I’ve been living here, I’ve always wondered where I could find a lobster roll,” Griffin said. “Every time I came home, I immediately ate a bunch of lobster rolls.”
After graduating with a business degree from Tulane, Griffin was trying to figure out his next move when another lobster roll craving hit him. It was then that he decided to start a business selling the sandwich he was missing. Joel’s Lobster Rolls was born last September.
“New Orleans is such a seafood town that I was shocked that lobster rolls didn’t really exist here,” he said. “I thought it best if I sold them before someone else did. I figured it was only a matter of time. »
There are traditionally two types of lobster rolls. The Maine-style lobster roll is served cold with mayonnaise, celery, and chives on a toasted bun. Griffin’s lobster rolls are Connecticut style: hot lobster with melted butter and served on toast. Upon request, he tops his version with a fillet of lobster bisque, though, he says, a traditional lobster roll doesn’t include sauce.
The lobster for Joel’s Lobster Rolls comes from a wholesaler in Ipswich, Massachusetts, the same one that supplies seafood for Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale. The lobsters, Griffin said, are cold-water North Atlantic lobsters with claws perfect for sandwiches. He said the tail meat is too tough for a good bite, but the claw and shank meat is perfect.
As with any sandwich, the bread is an integral part of the dish. Joel’s lobster rolls are served on a New England style bun – a bun split on top with flat sides. Because these buns were not readily available in New Orleans, Griffin had them imported from various New England vendors.
“In my opinion, the buns are more important than the lobster,” he said. “You can get lobster anywhere, but the bun is the hardest part. You can’t just put a lobster roll on a hamburger bun. It must be that specific New England bread.
Sandwiches are $22. Griffin also offers Cape Cod chips on the side.
Joel’s Lobster Rolls appear at Henry’s Bar on Sundays and other locations such as Oak Street Brewery and Miel Brewery throughout the week. The schedule changes weekly, but Griffin hopes for more consistency as her business grows.
The pop-up schedule for Joel’s Lobster Rolls can be found on his instagram and Facebook pages.