Battle lobster at Four in Melville

Joy Dorr eating lobster at Four Food Studio

Joy Dorr eating lobster at Four Food Studio who offers an all-you-can-eat lobster deal for $39.95 on Wednesdays. (June 22, 2011.) (Credit: Agaton Strom)

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You can do it in the dining room or on the patio. Insatiable appetites are welcome. You'll get as much as you can handle. The double entendres run rampant at Four Food Studio's "Sexy Mess" evenings, but the event is strictly G-rated.

In June, the three-star Melville restaurant began offering Long Island's only all-you-can-eat lobster special for $39.95. The battle is joined every Wednesday evening and includes not only an unlimited supply of 1 1/4-pound lobsters, but cornbread, salad, corn on the cob, potatoes and sausage.

Yes, it's a battle

Diner and restaurant circle one another like wily gladiators. The diner is trying to eat as many lobsters as possible; the restaurant wants to keep its end of the deal, but within reason. To that end, chef Ben Durham has come up with a clever strategy: He serves the lobster with accompaniments tasty enough to divert your limited appetite. "I try to fill 'em up so they don't kill me on lobster," is how he put it.

Diners need a strategy of their own: Try not to eat the cornbread with honey butter. Even the salad, usually a throwaway at these sorts of affairs, is fresh and nicely dressed with soy-balsamic, but leave it be. The sausages are the most dangerous. Durham poaches sweet Italian sausage in onion-infused beer and the result is addictive. Stay away from the sausage!

The restaurant has another advantage: This is Four's turf, and it makes the rules. Seriously, on each table are printed rules, among them "Everyone at the table must participate," "Uneaten will remain the sole property of Four Food Studio," "Not a drop more until you have cleared your plate." (This last rule is flexible: You have to finish your lobster to get another one, but you don't need to finish the go-withs.)

Don't bet against Long Islanders

The odds may be against them, but Long Islanders have risen to the challenge. The average number of lobsters consumed per diner is about 2.8 and, according to Four's co-owner, Jay Grossman, the record so far belongs to a gentleman from week two who consumed seven; his date ate five.

On a recent Wednesday evening, Donna D'Amato and Jim Reddy of Lindenhurst had worked out a deal: D'Amato would pay for dinner with a gift certificate she had won. In return, Reddy had to do all the work of cracking shells. When he wielded the crackers, she drew her bib up over her face to shield herself from any stray lobster juice. Danger passed, he'd hand her her share of the meat. "A true gentleman," D'Amato said. In this manner, they put away three lobsters.

The spoils of war

Grossman's worst nightmare is that he'll run out of lobster, so he always orders more than he needs. That means Thursday's specials are almost certain to include lobster salad for lunch, lobster paella and grilled lobsters for dinner.

Four is at 515 Broadhollow Rd., Melville, 631-577-4444, fourfoodstudio.com.

 

FOR MORE

 

 

A week of lobster specials

 

SUNDAY

Lombardi's on the Bay

600 S. Ocean Ave., Patchogue 631-654-8970 lombardisonthebay.com

One 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound lobster with shrimp, mussels, clams, steamers, corn and potatoes. Plus salad. $27.95 (also Monday and Tuesday)

MONDAY

Nautilus Cafe

46 Woodcleft Ave., Freeport 516-379-2566, nautiluscafe.com

For the purist, a 2-pound lobster with choice of Caesar or green salad. $30

TUESDAY

North Fork Oyster Company

300 Main St. (Stirling Square) Greenport; 631-477-6840 northforkoystercompany.com

A 1 1/4-pound lobster, clams, mussels, potatoes, corn. Plus soup, salad, dessert and sangria. $49 (Also Monday)

WEDNESDAY

Chachama Grill

655-08 Montauk Hwy.

East Patchogue; 631-758-7640 chachamagrill.com

A 2-pound lobster with grilled corn, ancho-lemon butter and baked potato. Start with either mussels or lobster bisque. Dessert: sorbet. $47

THURSDAY

Nicholas James

2057 Merrick Rd., Merrick 516-546-4805, njbistro.com

One 2-pound lobster, with roasted potatoes and creamed corn. Plus soup or salad. $34.95

FRIDAY

Cafe La Strada

352 Wheeler Rd., Hauppauge 631-234-5550 cafelastradarestaurant.com

One 2-pound lobster, broiled or steamed. Plus appetizer, soup or salad; vegetable or pasta; dessert and coffee. $42.95

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