Last night 8 different lobster rolls went claw to claw at Tasting Table's Lobster Rumble in San Francisco presented by Lexus. The moment we walked into the event pavilion located at Fort Mason, we were instantly greeted with humans dressed as lobsters walking around and a wonderful fragrance of buttery toasted bread. There were several stations set up where all the restaurants were passionately battling it out to win the title of the best lobster roll.
The idea of Lobster Rumble is to make your way through each station/restaurant to eat a lobster roll (or as many you want to your heart's desire since it is all-you-can-eat) and vote on which roll you think is the best. Thanks to Tasting Table I was able to attend and cover the event as media with friends, Sandy of Foodhoe, Christina of East Bay Dish, and Ben of Focus:Snap:Eat.
The Event Execution & Lines
I was impressed at how well the event was executed. The event team checked people in as soon as they lined up before the event began so attendees could get in as quickly as possible to feast. We were at the event as soon as the doors opened and were able to grab the lobster rolls without any -or much wait. It was maybe 1.5 hours into the event where we encountered lines for the last four stations, but that didn't take more than 5 to 7 minutes to get through.
The Lobster Roll Review
Here's what I thought about each of the 8 lobster rolls that I ate, ranked in order from favorite to least favorite:
Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City: I love the simplicity of their lobster rolls and the amount of claws and lobster meat filling inside of a warm and toasty buttered bun. The lobster was lightly dressed in light mayo, salt, pepper and lemon.
Farallon in San Francisco: My buttery goodness. I've never tasted a lobster roll so rich. It was absolutely delicious. I loved their unique dressing that consisted of mayo with celery seeds and arugula. You can bet that I'll be dining here soon! The bread to lobster ratio was a bit off as you can see, but the bread was so damn good that I didn't mind.
Anchor & Hope in San Francisco: The lobster is very succulent with wonderful natural juices of the lobster preserved. The infusion of lobster roe sea salt was lovely and so was their delicious buttery toasted bread. Anchor & Hope is one of my favorite places to grab a lobster roll and this night just proved how much more I love them.
Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar in Healdsburg: I enjoyed the fresh nice chunks of lobster. They served it with garlic-butter, fennel, and a sriracha aioli. I thought the garlic-butter was a bit overpowering, but it was still a very delicious lobster roll that I would order. The bread to lobster ratio was perfect.
Waterbar in San Francisco: Waterbar kept it simple with drawn butter and a side of chips and sweet pickles. It was a very tasty lobster roll.
Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House in Oakland: The lobster roll at Jack's is served with a tarragon hollandaise sauce that made the lobster mixture a bit too wet, so the organic flavors of the lobster was lost. There was too much bread for the proportion of lobster given. I've had the lobster roll at Jack's a couple of times before and loved it but it wasn't represented as well at Lobster Rumble.
Frank's Oyster House and Champagne Parlor in Seattle: I called this the potato salad of lobster rolls because that's how it tasted. It wasn't a traditional lobster roll but instead a lobster salad roll. I wasn't as impressed and felt like the lobster taste was lost in this mixture.
Local Mission Market in San Francisco: This one was very different and they considered it as a lobster kimchee banh mi. Unfortunately, I didn't get any lobster in my roll, so their roll ranks last place for me.
There was one roll station left that I didn't try because I was too full at this point and because it wasn't a lobster roll.
My Vote & The Winner
My favorite lobster roll in the Bay Area is made by Old Port Lobster Shack and my feelings were no different at the Lobster Rumble. I tried 8 lobster rolls and they were still my favorite, so my vote went to them. It was no surprise to me that Old Port Lobster Shack turned out to be the winner! Congratulations, Old Port Lobster Shack!
Making Room for Dessert
When we completed the lobster rolls feast, we moved on to the desserts! The event ended sweetly with a scoop of delicious brown butter ice cream (one of my favorites) from Humphry Slocombe and a dreamy cinnamon bun biscuit from Biscuit Bender.
Overall, I had a blast and there was never a time where I felt like the food was going to run out, so I was truly able to enjoy my time socializing with friends and people watching. To be able to indulge in this much lobster in one night was a dream come true. I hope Tasting Table runs this event next year so I can do it all over again.
Thanks so much for the invite, Tasting Table!