<<EDIT 8/13/10 11:23 AM: Bummer!  Apparently the truck is out of commission for the day.  Red Hook has tweeted:

So, we’re not as weatherproof as our favorite hard-shelled friends and Friday the13th demons struck our truck. So sorry. Hope to roll Mon.

Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery and a smooth opening run on Monday!>>

By the time you read this, Red Hook Lobster Pound may have already tweeted the site of their first stop (Brooklyn-based owner Susan Povich has already spilled the beans on their New York feed).  If that’s the case, you can bet that a line is already forming to greet them upon arrival, regardless of weather.  Before Red Hook had served even their first sample, they had more than 1900 followers hanging on their every update about when their mobile lobster shack would be hitting the street.

Well the wait is finally over, and we can say from experience it was worth it.  Last night the team behind Red Hook Lobster DC threw a launch party for some of their most eager fans and media types.  Guests enjoyed tastes of the truck’s signature lobster rolls as well as Cape Cod chips, shrimp rolls, whoopie pies and Maine Root sodas.  We gathered in the grassy park-like space where M and 2nd Streets meet in Southeast, near the Nationals’ stadium. (HINT: Apparently the Red Hook folks thought it was a good location…just saying.)

At the kick-off party we had a chance to meet Susan as well as Doug Povich (Susan’s cousin) and Leland Morris, the guys behind Red Hook Lobster Pound’s Washington operation.  The mood was festive despite the fact that we all huddled under a pair of tents while a storm blew through.  The mobile restaurateurs were effusive with their praise of their DC followers as they shared their excitement to be hours away from opening.

So what was that delectable-looking lobster roll like?  And what do you need to do to be ready when they come to your neighborhood?  Find out after the jump.

Red Hook Lobster Pound’s roll is a New England traditionalist’s dream.  Big chunks of tender knuckle meat are tossed with a light coating of mayonnaise, some chopped celery, lemon juice and salt and pepper.  The mixture is served on a buttery toasted, split-top hot dog roll (the Brooklyn Lobster Pound uses J.J. Nissen’s) and  topped with scallions and paprika.  Add in a pickle spear and you’ve got Red Hook’s signature item.

And the taste?  There’s a delicate balance between the lobster’s natural sweetness, the light sea-air brine, the richness of the mayo and the smoky spice of the paprika that delivers in a big way.  It’s easy to forget that your entire sandwich fits in a hot dog roll when it has so many flavors working together.  And if you really want to reassure yourself that the roll is worth its $15 price tag, try a side-by-side comparison with the $8 shrimp roll.   The shrimp is good by itself, but it pales in comparison to the salty-sweet flavor and barely-firm texture of the lobster.

After all, the lobster is the star of the show.  That’s the reason that Susan (and now Doug) has been working with family connections in Maine to bring in the freshest possible lobsters and then turn them into these culinary delight.  They then work to turn those 1 1/2 pound crustaceans (smaller lobsters tend to have sweeter, more tender meat) into piles of meat for incorporation into the salad.  I’m not sure I appreciated just how much work goes into producing a lobster roll before now.

Looking to turn a sandwich into a meal?  For $3 you can add a side of Cape Cod kettle-cooked chips and a Maine Root fountain soda made with organic sweeteners (no HFCS here).  And for dessert, you can add a whoopie pie, the New England cake-and-cream concoction that is threatening to become the next next cupcake or frozen yogurt.  Red Hook Lobster Pound’s version sells for $3.50 and is baked in Brooklyn (though they may be looking for a local source in the future).

All told, a meal from Red Hook Lobster Pound’s new DC food truck could easily set you back $20, but when you take into account the quality of the product you’re getting and the cost of comparable lobster rolls in restaurants across the city, it’s still a pretty darn good deal.  And you won’t even have to worry about carrying cash – the truck will be equipped to accept major credit and debit cards.

And don’t forget about Red Hook’s commitment to the community, either.  With each purchase of a lobster roll, Red Hook Lobster Pound will invite you to donate $0.25 to a local food charity, which they will match quarter for quarter.  They’ve also demonstrated their love for their followers, and they’ll continue to do so with at least one time slot each week held as a ‘wild card’ to be determined by fan intensity.

Want the truck to pull up outside your office soon?  Better start that lobbying campaign now!

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