Sunday, May 26, 2013
What makes a restaurant "manly"?
Lobster Savannah, a favorite at Mabel’s Lobster Claw, is filled with Seafood Newburg and topped with cheeses and roasted peppers.
Is it the portions they serve? Guy-friendly food? The sight of burly lobstermen unloading their catch mere steps from the kitchen?
Who thinks up these things, anyway? Men's Health, that's who.
Mabel's Lobster Claw Restaurant in Kennebunkport has been nominated for the magazine's Manliest Restaurants in America contest, and you have until July 31 to go online and vote for it at menshealth.com.
Mabel's is nominated in the seafood shack category, but there are also categories for BBQ joint, pizza parlor, steak house, brew pub, sandwich shop, taco stand, burger spot and something called adventurous eating that includes a place in New York that cures egg yolks and a restaurant in Charleston that "has taken traditional Southern fare, kicked it in the (extremities), and served it up with a side of pig ear."
Mabel's is cited for its view of the Kennebunk River, neighboring captain's houses and the knotty-pine interior that maybe taps into a guy's subconscious need to hunker down in a man cave.
As for the food, the restaurant serves fresh lobster 10 ways, in sizes up to 4 pounds.
But it wasn't any of these manly qualities that initially got Mabel's noticed by Men's Health. It was, according to restaurant owner Robert Fischer, the Lobster Savannah.
The $35 dish (it comes with a salad and potato) is a 1 1/4-pound lobster split down the middle and filled with seafood Newburg – sauteed shrimp, scallops and mushrooms in a newburgh sauce. Then it's topped with provolone, Parmesan and some roasted peppers. The whole thing is then popped into the oven for roasting.
"It's a beautiful eating dish," Fischer said. "It's been a crowd pleaser forever, as long as I can remember."
Sure, this dish looks like something Don Draper of "Mad Men" would enjoy over a business lunch, but Fischer says the Lobster Savannah itself doesn't actually bring more men through the door.
"I think it's the portion, to be totally honest with you," he said. "Myself, as an avid eater, to me there's never enough. If it's a broiled haddock, I want a little more. If it's some fried clams, I'd like a couple more.
"Because we're little – we've only got about 60 seats – if someone comes in and says 'Gee, I'd love some broiled scallops but I'm dying for some baked, stuffed shrimp, too,' we'll make you two little ones, just as an example of trying to take care of people. And that guy will leave as happy as a lark."
Mabel's is up against some stiff competition in the Men's Health contest. The other nominees include Joe's Stone Crab in Miami and Waterman's Crab House in Rock Hall, Md.
Fischer has put fliers on all his tables and buttons on his servers to encourage customers to vote.
"I think it would be great if we did win because they feature you in the magazine in December and then the Travel Channel does a whole hour show of Men's Health's best of the best," Fischer said. "That would be kind of cool."
Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: email@example.com