Like any illicit deal you can imagine — and I did use my imagination, having never illicitly dealt or acquired anything — you had to know someone to get the secret phone number. After arranging the deal, you traveled to a seemingly-random address in Brooklyn, and sent a text message when you arrived. The reply was an estimated delivery time, and you were left to wait patiently in front of a red-sided building for the next command. At the appointed time you were sent the pick-up address where you’d meet a man, pass over some cash in a handshake, and receive the goods.
The goods in question: arguably the best lobster roll in New York. The dealer — known as Dr. Klaw: a fisherman, seafood expert and native Bostonian — served as cook, dealer and proprietor of The Underground Lobster Pound, an operation not exactly blessed by the city of New York.
Making the trip to Greenpoint and experiencing the thrill of an illegal deal, then being rewarded with the perfect lobster roll — succulent chunks of lobster, lightly seasoned with Old Bay, and just the right amount of mayo, tucked into a buttered top-split hot dog bun — was an important rite of passage for any food-obsessed New Yorker during the 10-or-so months Dr. Klaw was in operation. But like all good things, The Underground Lobster Pound ended, abruptly, shut down by the NYC Department of Health while Klaw was out of town.
Fortunately for Klaw, known on his birth certificate as Ben Sargent, he was away shooting a special for Cooking Channel: Hook, Line & Dinner. The one-hour special, which airs tonight at 9 pm, chronicles Ben’s trip along the coastline from Brooklyn to Maine, as he visits the best lobster pounds and clam shacks in New England. When he’s not on his motorcycle between stops, he’s out with the fishermen and cooking along side the cooks at the chowder pots, literally following the fish from the sea to the plate.
So if you weren’t lucky enough to try one of the Dr.’s lobster rolls before he was shut down, you can catch him tonight on his new show, and follow his journey for the best seafood on the East Coast here: