The desserts and a savory chicken tsukune skewer saved The Lobster Club from getting a goose egg from Times critic Pete Wells, who today gave one unenthusiastic star to the Midtown Japanese-inspired brasserie from Major Food Group (Carbone, The Grill).
Wells spent an inordinate amount of time on the design and vibe, which leans clubstaurant-y and splashy. When he does get to the food from former Sushi Azabu chef Tasuku Murakami, he doesn’t sound terribly excited to describe it — a friend of his characterizes it as similar to Ruby Foo’s, which he gets on board with. Of the appetizers he writes:
Some of Mr. Murakami’s appetizers struck me as barely Japanese at all. Certain raw fish dishes could be served at any number of New York restaurants, like slices of sea bass showered with brittle strands of fried brussels sprouts, or raw cherry trout twirled around crunchy nests of fried potato threads. Both are fine things to eat, by the way. The one called wok lobster — battered and fried lobster tail pieces in a sweet-and-sour sauce — seems very Chinese. It is also very oily, like the fried rock shrimp and the teppanyaki garlic rice, which will ooze oil as you watch.
He ends the review with praise for pastry chef Stephanie Prida’s offerings, which range from showy kakigori, or shaved ice, to the “soft and homey” steamed black-sugar cakes — which he also admired in his two-star review of The Pool, Major Food Group’s sister seafood spot upstairs. Their third restaurant in the building, The Grill, mustered some more excitement from Wells, with three stars. Lobster Club now makes it a one-two-three punch. One star.