To upset the bourgeoisie, the French poet Gérard de Nerval used to walk a lobster around the streets of Paris on a blue ribbon. Lobsters, he said, were “peaceful serious creatures who know the secrets of the sea, and don’t bark.”
You can see just about anything on the streets of Soho nowadays, but I have yet to come across a lobster on a leash. Instead, we now have a lobster bar, which opened its doors just a couple of months ago on Lafayette between Spring and Kenmare streets.
From the first day, Ed’s Lobster Bar has been mobbed. It’s a sliver of a space, barely wide enough to turn around in, with a long white marble bar that runs the length of the room and a handful of tables in the back. At dinner time, you may have to wait for an hour or more, because the restaurant doesn’t take reservations.
“Why not?” I asked crossly, after we’d been told about the wait (outside, moreover, since there was no room to stand in the restaurant).
“We want people from the neighborhood to be able to walk in when they feel like it,” said the apologetic man at the door, who was taking names down on a long list.
“I’m from the neighborhood,” I replied. We gave him a name and stood on the sidewalk while I got on my cell phone, trying to find another restaurant. Fifteen minutes later, the manager came out: “Because you’re a neighbor, I found you a seat!”
Fighting his way through the crowd, he led us to a counter near the back, and three of us climbed onto the stools. We were sitting directly facing the wall, like pupils being punished in a schoolroom. Meanwhile, people behind our backs jostled each other between the stools as waiters fought to get their plates through without dropping them.
Conversation over dinner? Forget it. The din was deafening (helped to no small extent by the woman out of P.G. Wodehouse with the laugh that can open an oyster at thirty paces—she dogs my footsteps in noisy restaurants).