Remember that scruffy little seafood place that sat vacant at the end of Santa Monica pier at Ocean Avenue for so many years? Well, it's back. But the Lobster is a shack no more. You can just barely see the bones of the original 30-seat structure in what is now the foyer or waiting area. Up a few steps is the new Lobster, cantilevered out to create a 110-seat restaurant with 34 more seats on the patio and a 180-degree view of the pier and the ocean beyond.
I don't know what it is about eating lobster that brings out the raucous in people. Maybe it's those undignified plastic bibs, or the work of ferreting out every bit of meat from those ferocious-looking claws. On a recent weekday night, every time the blond at the table across the way shrieked or her escort guffawed, it felt like someone was sticking swords in my ears. I had to keep reassuring my guests that we were really having fun.
Six of us were squeezed into a booth built for four normal-sized adults, but after the food began to arrive, we began to view the seating arrangement as more cozy than uncomfortable. After all, it made it easier to steal a bite, and then another, of the plump Maryland crab cakes, or to reach across the table for more of that puckery sauce that comes with the crispy lemon calamari. Then again, it made it easier for everyone to pluck one of those golden fried oysters off my romaine and endive salad.