Josh Thoma Lobster Rolls—on 4th and First!
I knew the lobster-roll truck by Josh Thoma was in the works, so when I saw it parked on the corner of 4th Street and First Avenue in the warehouse district Wednesday afternoon, I about gave myself whiplash pulling over.
Josh Thoma, of course, is the semi-disgraced wunderkind who was a part owner in oh so many of the Twin Cities' most remarkable restaurants over the last decade—from Barrio to La Belle Vie to Bar La Grassa—but moved money around in ways he shouldn’t and got booted from many of them in the scandal that will submerge us all. But who says there are no second acts in Minnesota food? The menu of the Smack Shack is short—lobster rolls small ($8.50) and king-sized ($13.50), a lobster and arugula salad, a sausage poor boy, a shrimp poor boy, and fries. But, from my taste this week, excellent. I tried the king-sized lobster roll and was told by the cooks that it contained nearly a whole pound of lobster meat, and could see with my very own eyes that they were right: Huge chunks of claw were a deliriously happy sight. The lobster salad was made with chunks of English cucumber and big leaves of fresh tarragon, and was lightly dressed. It was served in a big well-buttered griddled slab of thick Texas Toast cut top-to-not-quite-bottom to make a bun and: Yum. Yum! Fries were good too, topped with a fun celery salt spice blend.
Will it be your cup of tea? Needless to say, that probably depends on your personal feelings about lobster. As I was walking away, a street sweeper asked me: Is it good? “Yes!” I answered enthusiastically. “Is it reasonable?” he asked. I must have had a funny look on my face because he elaborated: “Five, six, seven bucks?” “Not for real lobster,” I told him. “And fries are extra?” he asked. I nodded, and he shook his head sadly.
I’m not sure who the customer for lobster rolls in the warehouse district is besides me; the place seems like it would be more natural parked at Lake Minnetonka, but, hey. I liked it very much. If you’re a displaced New Englander or a lobster lover, drop everything and head into the Warehouse District (to the surface parking lot across from the downtown Pizza Lucé, kitty-corner from Om). Lobster rolls! In downtown Minneapolis. What next, tuna-casserole food trucks on the beaches of Maine? Heavens.