Winner: Lobster Reuben
Restaurant: Alice Sweetwater’s Bar & Grille, Naples, FL
Sandwich creators: Mary Beth Atwell & Greg Haley
Inspiration: “A customer spoke of having a lobster reuben elsewhere, but we thought sauerkraut with lobster tail wasn’t appetizing. So we went to work to create something totally different and special.”
Key ingredients: 6 ounces of cold-water lobster tail, Swiss cheese, chipotle mayo, Meyers Rum, pineapple, coleslaw, dried cranberries, rice vinegar, brown sugar, curry and challah bread
Why it’s special: It dares to mess with a New England classic, the lobster roll.
Food cost: 34 percent
What the judges said: There’s a prevailing school of thought about a lobster roll-style sandwich: Don’t mess with it—let the lobster do the talking. Well, damn it, Atwell and Haley went and messed with it. And it was time. Sure, it’s hard to beat a traditional roll of butter- and mayo-licked lobster. But this lobster reuben has so many more layers of flavor, it makes the old-school version seem a bit, well, lazy. And we’re not sure how they did it, but the flavor of lobster shines through all the other intriguing ingredients. Just don’t try this in New England, not unless you want to announce to the unyielding locals that you’ve landed on the planet from some far-flung universe like Naples, Florida.
• Stonington Lobster Roll: Acadia, Chicago
• Crab Melt: Chaz on the Plaza, Overland Park, KS
• Pan Bagnat Provencal: Maison Giraud, Pacific Palisades, CA
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