“Knuckle & Claw West: All passion, zero pretension at this charming, Martha’s Vineyard inspired lobster spot” by Sara and The Somm
As an East Coast transplant, I jump at the chance to try any restaurant promising a decent New England style lobster roll. When I got the opportunity to try Knuckle & Claw West in Santa Monica, I went from thinking this place sounded pretty good to being absolutely blown away. Not only did the food itself wow me, but what ended up striking me the most was how much heart and passion has touched every inch of this grassroots gem.
Knuckle & Claw is the inspired creation of two of the loveliest, most down to earth women in the business; Nikki Booth and Chloe Dahl. With Dahl having grown up in Martha’s Vineyard, she certainly has the recipe to transport you back to her carefree summer days, peppering in a little sophistication to earn its prime locale, yet managing to leave all pretension at the door.
Yes. Yes to all of it. We want to scream it from the mountain tops we liked it so much! Although I could go on and on, let us hit the highlights for you.
Raw Bar: I loved their Stone Crab Knuckles from their raw bar (also, quite fun to crack. Would make for a great date activity!) We also enjoyed Oysters and Jumbo Shrimp and can’t wait to try the chilled Dungeness Crab the next time we go.
Appetizer: We got to try their IPA Lobster Bisque which impressed me by having very generous lobster portions, Lobster Mac and Cheese which would would make anyone happy, and their Martha’s Clam Chowder which I will go ahead and say might just be the best clam chowder I have ever had. yep. I said it. The texture and consistency were perfect and it was full of flavor that most other chowders lose amongst the “clamminess”. Don’t skip the apps, whatever you do!
Sandwiches: The holy grail that I came to try is obviously the Lobster Roll. It did not disappoint. I don’t know how they managed to find the perfect balance between “mayonnaisey” and buttery for their tender, quality lobster (flown in every morning), but they did it. Portions of lobster were heaping, their grilled, buttered split top buns baked by RÖCKENWAGNER are heavenly and guess what? They even have a gluten free bun option!
Mains: As you dine on their patio, the grill masters are doing their thing right outside with you, giving it the warm backyard feel that will keep you coming back. They are grilling up my favorite main dish on the menu: the split, grilled Fresh Maine Lobster. I share this favorite with resident dog “Bonnie” (she deserves her very own article! She is a lobster expert who spends her birthday every year with her moms in Martha’s Vineyard. We love her.) The lobster on its own is incredible, but if you can take a second in between bites to dip it into their homemade burnt cherry tomato dip or their lemon butter, you will surly be a fan for life.
Knuckle and Claw is clearly a labor of love by everyone involved. With so much pride in what they do, commitment to buying all local produce daily from farmers markets, the down to earth and approachable staff (self proclaimed “Knuckleheads”), and the fresh, nostalgic (with a twist) food, I will no doubt be a return customer for any lunch, date night, or casual, fun group dining. Well done Nikki and Chloe. You have won our hearts.
2715 main street,
santa monica, ca 90405