Lobster at Subway and McDonald’s

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The fast-food giants occasionally like to go up-scale. Subway and McDonald’s temporarily put Atlantic lobster on their menus in recent weeks to attract attention and to add a little variety.

At McDonald’s outlets in Greater Victoria, the McLobster promotion was advertised as running from June 17 to June 30, while quantities last. I detected a glimmer of excitement about this: two colleagues declared they were curious and planned to visit McDonald’s. One of them went to the drive-through to order his McLobster in the first half hour that it was available and learned that two had already been sold.

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McLobster sales appeared to be brisk. Signs saying “So tasty, it sold out” went up at two downtown outlets days before the deadline. I know this because after buying and eating one, I tried to buy a second a few days later to see how it compared.

The McLobster cost $7.49. It was lobster meat mixed with celery, lettuce and lemony-mayo-like dressing on a toasted white hot dog bun. I really wanted to like it.

But my McLobster was disappointing. I am not one of those snobby people who disparage McDonald’s food (or maybe, instead of snobby, they are just more discerning and health-conscious than me). I buy a Double Cheeseburger every few months, and enjoy it, despite its saltiness. But the McLobster was bland and dominated by a lemony taste that was a bit unpleasant; the seasoning needed to be different and maybe the lobster needed to be fresher. That was based on eating one McLobster on opening night. But my drive-through colleague was also unhappy with McLobster.

Subway's lobster sandwich was much better. It costs $9 for a six-inch and $15 for a 12-inch, and when I checked Thursday, it was still on sale.

The sandwich is offered with standard Subway ingredients — the buns, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, etc. The lobster amount is fairly generous and my sandwich included an unbroken claw piece. I could taste the sweet lobster, unlike with the McLobster, where the lobster meat was difficult to identify.

I fretted about what to include with my lobster sandwich, not wanting the toppings to overwhelm the lobster, and opted for lettuce, tomato, cucumber and “white” cheese on a plain white bun.

The drive-through colleague also checked out the Subway version and declared it to be a reasonable facsimile of a lobster roll sold in Nova Scotia. I've never had the real thing, but he has.

So, Subway was a surprisingly good lobster experience; there was even a bit of bonus shell. Despite the price and the fact that I’m cheap — $15 for a sandwich! — I'll probably buy another one.

Update: Under the theory that more is better, my colleague went back to Subway and ordered a six-inch sandwich with a double portion of lobster (there was a $5 surcharge). It was good but a little too rich, he said.

The McDonald's McLobster.
The McDonald’s McLobster.
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