Ten years ago The Lobster Shop was our "fancy destination restaurant" on the Tacoma waterfront. It hasn't changed at all in the last decade but we sure have. We received a gift card for the restaurant when we bought a new Pruis this Spring and thought we would use it last night. It was a beautiful evening, the restaurant was crowded, and we got perhaps the best table in the house with its great waterside corner view of the Sound.
The Lobster Shop has three distinct personalities depending on when you eat there. Sunday brunch is iconic, the early bird dinners are a great bargain and both of the above are jammed. We arrived as the early bird crowd was finishing their desserts. This crowd is mostly multi-generational families enjoying a "fancy 3 course dinner" out for less than $20 a head with a specific lower food cost menu offered prior to 6pm. We went to the "expensive" version of the Lobster Shop - around $160 including tax and tip for the 2 of us, including a shared app, mains, shared dessert and a bottle of wine ($21 for a 2007 Novelty Hill Sauvignon Blanc that retails for $14 - their wine markup is 10 years out of date which is great for the consumer - that bottle would be at least $28 and more likely somewhere nearer $42 at most restaurants - unfortunately, I found it totally lacking in varietal flavor - tasted more like a $6 grocery store wine). Their wine menu, as If have indicated is incredibly well priced but also extremely bland in varietals and quality - i.e. White Zinfandel as their entire rose choice.
The ingredient quality and quantity was good but not seasonal (pea pods and asparagus as veg in September). The mashed potato's we just that, so thick and dry you could stand a fork up in them, while the potato croquet Cindy had was watery and terrible. My halibut and Cindy's steak were served "Oscar style" i.e. low quality shreds of crab or lobster with an insipid version of Bearnaise for the steak and Hollandaise for the Halibut. There was apparently no seasoning of any kind used in any of the cooking. It was a large quantity of bland, boring food from another era.
I think The Lobster Shop is just fine for a fancy dinner out at a really nice location for probably a very high percentage of the population who value quantity and don't really care about great food. It's just not our place any more. I realize I sound like a "food snob" (or maybe just a snob depending on the reader) but if you are either a really good cook or have been exposed to really good seafood restaurants you are not going to be impressed. I would only recommend this restaurant for brunch or the early bird for a bring along grandma and the kids "treat" even though the food will not be very good. People, including us really seemed to enjoy themselves as it is a beautiful spot, good ambiance and the food is "safe" and "dependable". If you are going to spend $60 plus per person why would you eat here?