The Dish: New England-style lobster roll

The Location: Zola, 800 F St. NW, (202) 654-0999

The Price: $21

The Skinny: The bartender places the lobster roll before me, and I immediately laugh at the sight of this scrawny, 90-pound weakling of a sandwich. If I had ordered this from a beach-side shack in Maine, I’d be forced to kick sand in its face. The picture here distorts its size, but I’d guess the roll is the approximate length and width of a Hostess Twinkie. A hungry man could swallow it in four bites. Best I can figure, Zola’s New England-style lobster roll wouldn’t pass muster with those Bugs Bunny talkers up there, either. Instead of a classic Pepperidge Farm hot dog bun, Chef Bryan Moscatello (who now oversees both Indigo Landing and Zola in the wake of Frank Morales‘ defection to Rustico) employs a dwarfish loaf of baked bread, which he cuts into thick slices and stuffs with lobster meat mixed with aioli and diced Roma tomatoes. I have to admit that for a pint-size, two-bit twerp of a sandwich, this one’s pretty fine. The tail, knuckle, and claw meat, which Zola processes from live Maine lobsters, is poached in court bouillon, and chopped into sweet, toothsome, and creamy pieces. The problem, of course, is that the sandwich is more tease than tart. It reminds me of the line from Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, in which Everett refuses Delmar’s invitation to gobble down a rotisserie-fired varmint: “One-third of a gopher,” Everett deadpans, “would only arouse my appetite without bedding it down.”