Valentine's Day is right around the corner. You may be planning to spend your hard-earned money to enjoy a lobster dish with your sweetheart at a fancy schmancy New York restaurant, but, is it really lobster? According to Tasting Table, you might not be getting what you paid for.

According to Today, a few years ago Inside Edition tested the DNA of 'lobster' dishes from 28 restaurants and 35 percent of samples actually came back as not lobster, but as fish substitutes like whiting and haddock. In this case, the substitute that Tasting Table is warning about is a bit closer to lobster.

Photo by Joy Real on Unsplash
Photo by Joy Real on Unsplash
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If you're trying to do V-Day on a budget, you're probably looking for some less expensive options. But be aware, if you are 'wowed' by the cheap price of a restaurant's lobster dish, it might not be lobster that they're using (imitation crab anyone?). Tasting Table says that cheaper lobster dishes may actually contain langostino.

What Is Langostino?

Langostino is a lobster, of sorts, but not the type of lobster New Yorkers are likely to expect. Not to get too scientific, but according to Seafood Source, "American" lobsters and langostinos share the same Decapoda, and suborder, Pleocyemata. There is one difference though, in their infraorders - American lobsters are Astacidea and langostinos are Palinura.

Langostino is Spanish for little lobster. Although langostino’s taste and texture are similar to lobster meat, langostino is not the crustacean Americans typically refer to as 'lobster' — American, or Maine, lobster and spiny lobster.

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How Can You Tell You're Actually Eating Lobster

It's kind of scary thinking about how much deception goes into the food here in New York. Is anything really what it's supposed to be? Today offers some tips to tell if you're really getting lobster:

1. Choose wisely. Pick a restaurant where it is prepared very simply. Most likely, a lobster on your plate is a lobster, but the lobster in a lobster roll could be anything.
2. Look for claws. If you see red lobster claws, there's a better chance you're eating actual lobster.
3. The dish matters. If you want to ensure that you are eating real lobster, avoid lobster ravioli, lobster salad, lobster bisque, lobster rolls, or any other dishes with chopped-up pieces of lobster, rather than the whole crustacean.
4. Location, location, location. Look for Maine lobster on the menu or to be clearly advertised. You might even want to ask your server to verify with the chef that your lobster is from Maine.
5. Is it too good to be true? If the price seems really cheap for lobster, there's a chance that you're not getting lobster. Remember, you often get what you pay for.

Photo by Viviana Rishe on Unsplash
Photo by Viviana Rishe on Unsplash
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No More Lobster At Restaurants In New York State?

Back in September of 2022, there was a warning that lobster might disappear from restaurants in New York State. An influential conservation group downgraded American lobster's rating, which was predicted to cause many retailers and restaurants to pull the delicious crustacean from their offerings.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch updated lobster rankings for September 2022. American lobster previously had a 'good alternative' rating, but now has an 'avoid rating' from the group. The primary reason for the change is due to the threat lobster trapping poses to whales.

Photo by Anton Ahlberg on Unsplash
Photo by Anton Ahlberg on Unsplash
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American lobster caught in Canada with pots has been downgraded to an Avoid due to red Other Species and Management ratings. This fishery poses a risk to overfished or at-risk species, including endangered North Atlantic right whales.

Lobsters trapped in the waters of Canada and the United States are now on Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch's so-called 'red list'. Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch collaborates with many restaurants, retailers, seafood suppliers, chefs, and governments, so its reach is long.

These Upstate New York Restaurants Are An Absolute Must Try For 2023

315 Menus is a group on Facebook focused on all of our amazing restaurants locally. You can post questions, reviews, photos, and if you're a restaurant you can post menu items, specials, and more. Recently someone posted the following question:

What local restaurant have you never been to that’s on your ”must go to” list for 2023?"

We decided to pick the top answers and present them to you. If there are others that should be on the list, text us on our station app:

More! More of the Best Bagel Destinations in Upstate New York

So, how do you start your morning? A piece of toast on the run? A bowl of Cheerios? Ham and eggs? A fruit smoothie? Well, they are all good starters but for this writer (and many other folks) a great way to start the day is with a toasted bagel with a schmear of cream cheese. Filling, healthy, delicious, and convenient. There are dozens of bagel shops spread all over the Upstate region. Here is a starter list of 14 great bagel bakeries, from the Hudson Valley to Buffalo, and from the St. Lawrence River to the Catskills. Check out the list and see some of the great photos. I can guarantee you that looking at these photographs will make you say, "Yup, it is bagel time!"

Egg-stremely High Prices: RANKED

The current price of eggs on Instacart in our state's capital-- Albany, broken down brand by brand and store by store. We compared the prices of each store's large white eggs per dozen so you don't have to, ranking them from highest priced to lowest. Take a look:

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