In Utah the closest someone used to get to consuming the king of crustaceans was its smaller cousin the crawfish - also called the mountain lobster.
That is until 2009, when New England born Ben and Lorin Smaha started Freshies Lobster Co. as a booth at the Park Silly Market. Nine years later they now have a food truck, two storefront locations, and hundreds of happy Utahns who have been introduced to the luscious decadence of their menu.
Last week I made a trip to their newest location on 900 South in Salt Lake City. The building, constructed specifically to house the restaurant, maintains a distinctly nautical air. The facade is made to look like ocean-worn boards, a lobster trap hangs above the front door, and a painting of roiling stormy seas sit atop the indoor fireplace. When we arrived there were only two other small groups, so there was no wait. The staff was friendly and very knowledgeable, ready to aid first-timers in their choices. We ordered, snagged our number and sat down at the communal-style high tops near the large street-facing front windows.
The menu is simple, highlighting their lobster roll, which was named "Worlds Best," at the Down East Lobster Roll Festival in Maine during the 2017 competition. You can choose from three sizes, Tourist (2oz), Real Mainah (3.7), and XL (5oz). They also offer other lobster-centric dishes including lettuce cups, sliders, grilled cheese, chowder, and salads.
It being my first visit I went for their specialty, the Real Mainah roll with a side of chips, while my partner opted for the Low Tide salad, which included mixed organic greens, lemon tarragon dressing, and of course lobster. Our bill came to a wallet bruising $50, this is definitely a treat meal spot, but it was well worth it.
There was a generous portion of lobster in both dishes, flawlessly poached, and super succulent.. My roll had a distinctly herbaceous seasoning, which cut the fattiness of the butter and mayo inside. Most lobster rolls usually have one or the other, the combo is part of what made Freshies stand out at Down East. The only thing I wished for was a slightly more toasted roll.
My partner found her three ingredient salad to be a touch simplistic for its price range, but the dressing complimented the lobster nicely. Her one note was that she wished the lobster was warmed, as the cold butter congealed on the greens and left a greasy feeling on the palate.
Speaking to price, owner Ben grew up surrounded by lobster boats, eventually obtaining a harvesting license, and thus gained an appreciation for sustainable methods which he carried over to the restaurant. This alongside the fact that the lobster is caught and processed in Maine, sent to Boston, then shipped to Utah all in one day, accounts for the added cost.
This restaurant makes Utah proud, bringing quality and ocean-conscious cuisine to the state. All inland seafood should be approached with this same level of education and awareness. I will definitely be going back to Freshies for another spoil-me-meal, with winter coming I've got my eye on that chowder.