Until last weekend, City Island was an abstraction to me—a place I’d heard of but never given two seconds’ thought.
For the geographically-challenged (like me): City Island is a tiny island off the east coast of the Bronx, connected by a century-old bridge to the mainland. About 4/10ths of a square mile in area, it has under 5,000 residents.
The island’s main industries seem to be boat storage and seafood restaurants. There are dozens of restaurants along the island’s main drag (City Island Avenue), many of which seem to be interchangeable. They all look just a bit downscale and touristy, and it is hard to imagine how so many of them stay in business all year.
My friend had heard vaguely good things about City Island Lobster House, located on a side street just off the bridge, so we tried that. It looks like one of those generic seafood shacks that one expects to see every quarter-mile in New England shore towns. The website is as cheesy as the restaurant is.
The huge laminated menu takes a while to absorb, but there wasn’t much doubt we were having lobsters. To go to a “Lobster House” and order anything else would be silly.
The meal comes with a bounteous bread plate (above left) with terrific garlic bread, warm blueberry bread, and a bowl of olives and cheese. Caesar salad (above right) was totally forgettable; I assume they make them up well in advance, and pull them out of the fridge as needed.
The lobster was wonderful, but it was typical of slightly slapdash service that it was served with the bowl of melted butter tipped over. It took quite a while to get lobster forks, and after our meal the server claimed to be out of wet-naps before returning with them.
You won’t beat these prices in New York City: a 1½-pound lobster with salad and bread was $24.95 apiece. Cocktails are under $10 each. The total for two was under $70 before tax and tip. Is it a great restaurant? No. Do they have lobster nailed? Yes.
City Island Lobster House (691 Bridge Street #1, City Island)