When we were done with our meal at Cull & Pistol the other day, right before we stepped out, we paused for a few seconds. “Its like a scene from the walking dead out there” I told the hostess who nodded nervously, almost as if she was saying, “I hope you got the proper protection”. I did not. I never do. We felt safe inside, but out there they were in large numbers, walking gingerly and awkwardly in one direction, some even salivating. And before the hostess had a chance to call the manager, we had no choice but leave. And there we were again walking among them, slowly, in the same direction, toward the same goal… ice cream. Five minutes into the walk, we only made it to Lobster Place next door. We reminisced about the meal we had five minutes ago.
Cull & Pistol is more than just an oasis in this lobster, taco, zombie, Chelsea Market frenzy. And its not exactly a new-comer to EWZ. I already blogged about it here, and here. I can’t even update the latter ‘here’, because I visit C&P or sister Lobster Place on just about every Chelsea Market visit these days, including three visits in the last 4 weeks. Why? its the fresh seafood stupid (Its just an American expression, I’m not calling any of my readers stupid, again)
What I like at Cull and Pistol doesn’t really matter much, because chances are, unless its lobster or fish and chips, it wont be on the menu by the time you visit. The menu is not only seasonal, changes based on sister Lobster Places availability, but also benefits from a chef with a menu OCD. One of my favorite chefs on the planet suffers from a menu OCD – a chef that will ride the hot stuff, but also likes to dare, experiment and invent.
If you have to pick just one lobster roll in NYC, this is it. To me around 90% of the lobster rolls out there carry very little value, and are as filling as a Doritos snack. A very expensive snack. C&P stuffs theirs with a lot love – sweet, juicy, claw meat kind of love. And they pair it with excellent almost shoestring fries (though a little bit less salt please). Another must for me as of late is the Spanish/Portuguese octopus. A few weeks ago it was a Portuguese beauty that came with a porky and veggy mix of some sort. One of the best octopus dishes I’ve had in NYC. Nowadays, its a heftier Spanish stallion, simply paprika’d, and served with crispy fingerling potato.
The highlight from the last meal was four Ecuadorian head-on shrimp baked with tarragon-vermouth salt. They were huge, sweet, and missing the funkiness/fishiness of similarly sized gulf shrimp. Oysters and happy hour always one of the main draws. Yesterday I grilled their succulent salmon burgers which are on the menu and can be purchased next door. Two nights before we sauteed their excellent garlic shrimp and served over pasta. Another hit on the current menu is the whole Dourade fried Thai style with mango, coconut, Thai basil, cucumber, chili, mint and fish sauce on the side. I found this more expertly done than in some Thai places where the fish is often dry and overcooked.
Great drinks is the norm, outstanding chocolate mousse for dessert. One of my NYC favorites at the moment.
Cull & Pistol
75 Ninth Ave (Chelsea Market)
Recommended Dishes: Lobster Roll, Octopus, Shrimp, Thai style Dourade, Salmon Burgers