There was a time when lobsters were plentiful and few of us ate them—just the poor who could not afford to pay for beef. Today, lobsters are more plentiful than ever and remarkably cheap, and everyone wants to eat them. According to Sarah Nassauer at the Wall Street Journal, fishermen harvested close to 60,000 metric tons of lobster last year. But the price per pound at the dock has dropped from $4.63 in 2005 to $2.89 last year. One reason: A declining cod population—the fish often preyed on baby lobsters.
As a result, places like Golden Corral are offering lobster-laden extravaganzas. But what about the finer establishments? Writes Nassauer, “At many high-end restaurants, classic whole lobster and tail dishes are seen as passé and therefore offered less ‘despite the price drop,’ says Maeve Webster, senior director at Datassential. Instead, lobster rolls, lobster salad and lobster bisque are growing in popularity.”
The priciest restaurants “do not lower [menu prices] when lobster gets cheaper,” says Jordan Elkin, president and founder of Homarus, which buys live lobster directly from Maine fishermen and sells to about 300 high-end restaurants in New York, including Gramercy Tavern. Those restaurants know diners will pay a premium for lobster, Mr. Elkin says.
Not to mention seeing “Market Price” on the menu. That always scares the shit out of me.