One of my first blog posts as a member of the Going Out Gurus was a preview of the Red Hook Lobster Truck. The truck, of course, ended up being hugely successful. Just about a year later it looks like the city’s favorite lunch wagon will be facing a bit more competition in the realm of seafood sandwiches, as a pair of similarly New England-themed casual restaurants are set to make their D.C.-area debuts.
In Bethesda, Grapeseed owner and chef Jeff Heineman plans on opening Freddy’s Lobster and Clams next door to his upscale, wine-centric bistro on May 14. Named for Heineman’s grandfather, Freddy’s will offer New England favorites like lobster rolls, fried clams and fish and chips made with fresh haddock. A massive lobster tank (Heineman says it holds 400-450 pounds of shellfish) will supply both the rolls and a strange-sounding treat: lobster stew with a blueberry muffin. “I had it somewhere in Maine,” Heineman explains. “It might not sound right, but the sourness of the blueberries with the creaminess of the lobster is just spot on.” Thirty of the restaurant’s 100 indoor seats line the bar, which the chef hopes will bring the city’s craft beer revolution to Bethesda: “I think there is a market for that out here that is not being served right now,” he says. Diners will also have plenty of al fresco options with an additional 40 seats on the restaurant’s deck. Need another reason to get excited? Heineman hinted at a potential happy hour special called cans and clams: a canned micro-brew and plate of fried clams for $10.
Downtown, Maine native Luke Holden plans to bring Luke’s Lobster , his New York lobster roll chain, to the District. The Georgetown graduate opened his first restaurant in the East Village only two years ago, but things have taken off, and three Manhattan locations later, Holden is set to open his fourth location near the Verizon Center in the mid-May with the help of his brother Bryan (a local) and business partner Ben Conniff. The all-Maine seafood menu will feature lobster rolls, crab rolls and shrimp rolls as well as a small selection of soups and side dishes like emperors crab claws, chips and pickles. Right now the beverage program doesn’t extend past organic Maine sodas, but Connif told me they are pursuing a license to serve beer. The team has been eyeing the new location since the winter but only started to put things together in the last couple weeks. “It’s a simple build-out,” Coniff says about that very un-industry-like speed, “and we’ve done it before.”