Borough Market regulars might recognise the vintage VW camper van that takes up one wall of Bob’s Lobster: it used to be parked outside Bedale’s, where owner Roberto Dann (the titular Bob) used to sell lobster rolls to the wine bar’s clientele.
Another wall is taken up by a bar dispensing the sort of strong cocktails knocked back by New Yorkers after work (Dann is an alumnus of Manhattan’s French Culinary Institute); diner-style booths take up the remaining wall, with high stools and tables in the middle of the restaurant floor, and light streaming through the full-height windows of the converted viaduct arch under London Bridge station.
The namesake lobster roll is the star turn, and even if there’s more crayfish than lobster claw, the joy of a brioche roll that tastes purely, deliriously of melted butter offers ample compensation. Any leftovers find their way into a bread and butter pudding which tastes even more fabulous for the fact that the day-old flavours of the brioche have intensified overnight.
Shrimp cocktail is just as you’d find it in the US. Firm-fleshed prawn tails are chilled by a mound of crushed ice and dunked into an authentically American dipping sauce that tastes like Bloody Mary mix, a thin ketchup hot with horseradish and Worcester sauce.
It’s not all so purist, though. Shrimp and grits improves the usual porridge-like stodge with the addition of bacon, jalapenos and bourbon imbuing the mix with considerably more interest; scoop it up with a portion of excellent chips, which you could also load with the brilliantly gooey lobster mac’n’cheese.
Best of all are the tuna tacos. Sashimi-grade fish is sandwiched into a crisp wonton shell with a fiery wasabi guacamole and a soothing chipotle-flavoured cream – a merry-go-round of flavours in every mouthful.
Fresh seafood is never going to be cheap and despite the informality of the set up, it would be easy for the cost of a meal here to mount up if you came with an appetite. Then again, we can’t think of any London seafood restaurant that offers so much straightforward pleasure without the formality of white tablecloths and displays of crustacea. If you are watching the pennies, early-evening oyster happy hour offers bivalves for one pound a pop.