Brunch is big business in the Lone Star State. This couldn’t be truer than in the swanky metropolis of Dallas. The options can be overwhelming, of course, because there's everything from home-cooked Southern fare to savory Tex-Mex and also heavenly Asian cuisine. But among all that (especially surviving the tumultuous past year) sometimes you want to take off the crusty sweatpants, put on clean drawers and treat yo'self.
Yo Lobster is located in the National Historic Landmark of Highland Park Village, aka the Rodeo Drive of Big D. If you have never been there, here is a fair warning: parking sucks. (This is reasonably true in most populous Dallas hot spots.) It took three laps around the fortress of fortitude before finally giving up and parking in a residential area a few blocks away.
Highland Park is definitely a vibe. A trendy bourgeoisie kind of vibe. Sandwiched between two places that I can’t pronounce (Fachini and Escada), Yo Lobster has a patio in full effect. If you are still feeling uneasy about sitting near complete strangers, you may want to take the party inside where there is plenty of spacious indoor dining. And if you have your black belt in brunching, you already know it’s a good idea to get a reservation in advance.
The inside is bright and very inviting. Charming nautical adornments are scattered throughout, channeling a quaint little coastal town, but without the pungent smells of a fishing wharf. The wait staff promptly sat us and gave us just enough time to figure out what we wanted to order.
Tex-Mex restaurants are judged by their salsa. Barbecue joints are graded on their brisket. I feel like seafood restaurants should be evaluated by their oysters. So, we started with a dozen East Coast oysters, then settled on the eggs Benedict with hot buttered lobster and hollandaise sauce and, of course, a proper lobster roll for the mains.
Having traveled extensively on the Northeast coast, trying different lobster rolls along the way, I have absolutely never seen a menu that has variants of the classic chopped lobster sandwich. But here we are. Yo Lobster has five different styles of this succulent sandwich that are all inspired by various states: Maine, Connecticut, Louisiana, California and, of course, the Lone Star State.
We started with the original style before venturing off into someone’s culinary experiment.
The oysters came right on time and did not disappoint. They're clean, very fresh and the Champagne mignonette was a welcoming addition. But don’t sleep on the cocktail horseradish sauce. Toggling back and forth from each condiment, it's hard to determine which is best. The vinegary mignonette stands out, though, because it doesn't overpower the oysters' natural subtle flavors.
The appetizer was great to get our masticating motors started, but the oysters evaporated down our gullets quickly, and we had hoped the entrees would soon follow. But in Biggie's immortal words, “It Was All a Dream."
Admittedly, it was quite a while before the rest of our meal made an appearance. We definitely saw people who came in after us finish their entire meal before we saw our main course. The waiter graciously checked on us frequently and apologized for the wait. But I have never been one to get impatient waiting for good food. It gave us time scan the room and see what was popular on everyone else’s plate. One item we noticed repeatedly emerging from the kitchen was the Boss Chop Salad ($33). This mammoth salad comes with your choice of seafood (tuna, lobster, shrimp or snow crab) with bacon, white cheddar and avocado topped with a Champagne-lemon vinaigrette.
Another cool feature of this dainty hideaway with the seafaring provisions is the weekly lobster trivia. Apparently, lobsters don’t die of old age, they just regenerate new cells. I sincerely hope after we tackle this pandemic, we can get started harnessing the power of the lobster.
After several genuine apologies from our waiter, the food finally arrived. The first sight of the lobster roll made me realize that Texas-size portions only relate to Texas-type fodder. Don’t expect to get a foot-long stuffed to the gills with lobster meat like you would on the Eastern Seaboard. I shoved the delectable miniature torpedo in my mouth and it was love at first bite.
Immediately I forgot about circling the parking lot like a buzzard looking for its next meal. I forgot about the long wait and for a split second, I almost forgot I was dead inside. All I could focus on was how ridiculously delicious that sandwich was. The lobster was cooked to absolute perfection. I drizzled the melted butter on the dish like a golden cascade, which made it even more of a mouth-watering masterpiece. The natural sweetness of lobster slaps hard and melts easily on your taste buds alongside the soft pillowy griddled brioche roll. I had to consciously take smaller bites because I didn’t want my sandwich to ever end. But sadly, it did. And now I remember.
Next, I turned the focus on the eggs Benedict with lobster. To lessen the carb load, we swapped the English muffin for a thick slice of tomato. The plate was as colorful as a Monet painting and I didn’t know if I should eat it or stare in amazement. But that only lasted about a nanosecond as I quickly dove in to test the fragility of the yolk.
The eggs were superbly poached. The perfectly cooked lobster mixed with the rich blissfulness of the yolk and avocado was truly a joyous occasion. You know the food is fire when your body starts involuntarily dancing in your seat.
Overall this is a great brunch spot. Especially if you have loads of time to kill and money to burn. You shouldn’t worry about donning your Fendi bag and wearing boat shoes sockless. The staff there was beyond hospitable and totally makes you feel at home. I will definitely return to chip away at the rest of the menu and try the Texas lobster roll.
Yo Lobster, 33B Highland Park Village. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.
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