By day, Kevin Bryant is the executive sous chef at L'Olivier. But starting a couple of weeks ago, and continuing every other Sunday with the exception of Christmas week, he's taking on a new role: grill master at McElroy's Pub.
Every other Sunday at McElroy's Pub, Bryant has announced, he'll be grilling lobsters, burgers and whatever else is looking good, from 1 p.m. until the food runs out.
For his first run two weeks ago, he was sold out of lobsters by the time he packed up at 7:30 p.m. This past Sunday, he was offering $6 burgers and $5 smoked sausages on a bun in addition to the 1-1/4-pound whole grilled lobster, priced at just $14. Sure enough, when 7:30 p.m. rolled around, he had once again sold out of most of his inventory.
Sundays are usually my "stay at home" nights, but I couldn't resist the enticement of whole grilled lobster. There's something about the sweet, plump, slightly chewy flesh that really does it for me. I prefer them over shrimp, prawns, langoustines and crawfish any day.
"Is it lobster season?" I asked when I showed up on Sunday evening, close to dusk.
"I wanted to do something different," Bryant replied. "And I thought, 'Why not lobsters?'" he said with smile.
Why not indeed. The sight of Bryant grilling up two or three of those lobsters at once -- smoke coming off the grill and musky oceanic aromas in the air -- was truly mouthwatering. It was difficult to wait for my friend while I watched others grub hungrily on the orange-crusted critters. A small line was forming just as I arrived, and the orders were going fast. I was afraid that he would sell out of them right from under me.
"Save me two lobsters, please!" I implored as I stood there empty-handed.
"We're running out fast," he replied. "I sold ten just while you were standing there -- your friend better come fast," he added. In the end, the waiting paid off, because I was hungrier by the time my friend arrived, and that meant we could eat more. We ended up ordering one lobster each, opting to share a burger and sausage between the two of us.
The lobster flesh was super sweet, seasoned with nothing more than a bit of salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. The thick-cut, 100 percent all-beef burger was nothing short of gourmet, a total steal for $6 (I would have gladly paid $10), and the plump smoked sausage lived up to its glistening appearance, smoky and salty, and reminding me of the hot dogs in Chicago. Chips and potato salad were available as sides. We tried the potato salad, and indulged in Doritos.
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To top it off, McElroy's has Sunday drink specials and a comfortable, enclosed patio area with flat-screen TVs for people who want to watch the game. I sipped on my somewhat alcoholic girly drink, while others kicked back and had frosty glasses of draft beer. What a great way to spend a Sunday evening.
Bryant's next run will be Sunday, December 16, and again on January 6. But bring bills: It's cash only.