Summer is lobster season — and The Palm does it up for two
The Palm and I go back a long way. A lifetime ago as a magazine editor in New York, I worked around the corner from the original Palm. Established in 1926, it was an old restaurant even when I was young. It was a restaurant straight out of Damon Runyon, where efficient, old-school waiters served a clientele that included a lot of chain-smoking, whisky-drinking reporters and illustrators — and eventually well-heeled New Yorkers who like the ambiance, the food, the service and the aura from their fellow diners.
A mystique about The Plam developed, and the restaurant gained renown for great steaks, giant lobsters and caricatures of prominent New Yorkers drawn on the walls by some of the city’s best-known and most-talented political cartoonists and illustrators. On special occasions, my co-workers and I would go there for lunch, ordering affordable burgers from a menu that was beyond our means at dinnertime.
Fast-forward several decades and two time zones, and here I am in Colorado — and so is one of many outposts of The Palm that now have spread across the country and around the globe. The original Palm had a patina that no new restaurant can approach, even with dark wainscotting, reproduction antique lighting fixtures, wooden chairs, starched white table linens and caricatures of famous people in whatver locality on the walls. Each of the new Palms seem to have commissioned an artist to paint the caricatures on newly painted walls, a valient effort at recreating the original. But then again, most diners today don’t have my memory of the original. The steaks and lobsters are still enormous, the cocktails potent (my margarita certainly was) , the waiters still efficient and the experience a throwback to an earlier time.
Lobster happens to me one of my very favorite foods, so my friend Laura and I jumped at an invitation to The Palm for their Summer Lobster Dinner for 2 promotion. The special starts with a choice of appetizers or salads (we selected different salads) and then comes the Nova Scotia lobster — a four-pounder split down the middle so that we each got half a body, half a tail, a large claw and four small claws. A lobster of this size has some age, so the kitchen cracks the thick shells to make it easier to remove the succulent claw meat. Lemon and melted butter — or “drawn butter,” in lobster lingo — is served on the side. I really like to taste the lobster without the intrusion of butter, so I always eat mine plain. I’m the exception.
The special includes two sharable side dishes — we ordered creamed spinach, a tried-and-true steakhouse face, and asparagus fritti. The special does not include dessert, so we ordered Key lime pie and two forks. For me, dinner was not only an opportunity to dig into food I love but also a trip down memory lane.
Price check: The Lobster Dinner for 2 is $99 for two individual appetizers or salads, a 4-pound lobster and two side dishes to share. It runs through August 31.