By Alison Cook | Chron.com
I’ll admit I was startled – and skeptical – when a colleague wrote about the hours-long lines at the Cousins Maine Lobster food truck when it parked out at the Fulshear farmers market in February.
Sure, nearly everyone loves lobster. And sure, some people had seen Maine-bred cousins Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac when they pitched their fledgling Los Angeles lobster roll business to the moguls who winnow out hopeful entrepreneurs on ABC’s “Shark Tank” show.
The pair scored $55,000 from real-estate investor Barbara Corcoran, who now has a 15 percent stake in a rapidly expanding company that has done $3.5 million in sales – and counting, with new trucks opening in cities around the country. She has called it the best investment she has made in the course of the show.
Still, that Houstonians would flock to a distant outpost like Fulshear to wait two hours or more for a sandwich seemed more like a tulip mania, driven by the madness of crowds, than a product of sensible decision-making.
Or so I thought, until the Houston edition of the Cousins Maine Lobster truck pulled into the cavernous loading dock at the downtown Houston Chronicle building a few days later and made a believer of me.
The Chronicle hosts two food trucks every Friday, and by the time I got down to the dock, dozens of co-workers had lined up in front of Cousins.
Twenty minutes later, I had a $13 lobster roll in hand. I picked the chilled, mayo-laced Maine version rather than the warmed, buttered “Connecticut” style because that’s the way I ate lobster rolls when I was growing up in New England.
Every element was spot on, from the buttered grilled hot dog bun to the pearly texture of the lobster, which managed to taste briny and sweet at once. For a high-volume purveyor, Cousins clearly was dealing in excellent quality shellfish, sensitively handled.
A little mayonnaise to hold the sizable chunks together was all the adornment it took to make the whole thing sparkle. It was wonderful in its strict simplicity. A wedge of lemon came alongside in the white cardboard boat. I wasn’t even tempted to use it.
And I was glad I had not succumbed to the lures of such latter-day notions as “Lobster Tots” (sacre bleu!) or even the attractive-looking lobster tacos.
I still don’t think I’d wait two hours for this superbly elemental lobster roll. Or any food item, to be honest. But 30 to 45 minutes, which is about the length of the wait at some of my favorite barbecue spots? Sure thing.
If you’re interested in checking out the Cousins lobster roll, go to cousinsmainelobster.com/houston for the weekly schedule of where you can find this food truck.