Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Crab Shack

My husband used to go to the original Crab Shack when he was young. Back then, it was literally a tiny shack built on a fishing pier. They'd purchase freshly caught seafood from the fishermen, and cook it right up. There was even a little 'bar': two coolers filled with iced-down beer sat next to an upright ledge that supported a few bottles of liquor.

The Crab Shack has come a long way from it's humble beginnings. Now, it's a full-sized restaurant that showcases a relaxed atmosphere- think lots of pale wood and servers in tee-shirts and shorts. A full, and usually lively bar, perches on the end, and a river-side covered deck that runs the length of the restaurant rounds it all out.

The Daily Press recently ran an article on the area's best crabcakes. As you can imagine, the response was varied and fiercely opinionated, although Hampton's Surf Rider garnered a fair amount of votes. But with crabs on the brain, and an errand to run on the far side of town, DucCat and I decided to spend an evening on the water at the Crab Shack.

Our enthusiastic young hostess cheerfully seated us out on the deck, per our request. There were several families out there already, enjoying the view and the breeze. Momentarily, our server came for our drink request- buds in a bottle. We also gave her our dinner order, and she whipped away to the next table.

It seemed only minutes later that she was back, slinging our bottles down, and following behind them with our salads. She was gone without a word. DucCat and I exchanged a glance, and dug in.

The salad was a meager and wilted; the vinegar was bargain-bin quality red, very thin and astringent. After a few unsuccessful bites, I began to entertain myself by throwing the scraps down to the ever-hopeful circling ducks just below us.

The server did another fly-by, this time depositing our entrees with clinical efficiency- DucCat actually had to pursue her to request a second beverage. I took the opportunity to snap a photo of his fried flounder dinner, with french fries.

I'd ordered my crab cakes fried, seeing in my mind's eye a chunky cake being pan-fried on a busy gas stove-top. Alas, it seems that 'fried' actually meant, 'coated in a tight batter and thrown into the deep-fat-fryer'.

Overcoming my shock, I picked through the crispy shell, and fished out the contents: The crabcake interior was actually quite good. There was a large portion of crabmeat, moist with a bit of mayo and celery, and touched with a hint of zip. I found the crispy exterior overwhelmed the contents, and began throwing it- and some of my tasty fries- down to the ducks. That was all fun and games until the seagulls started dive-bombing us, trying to edge in on the goods. Meanwhile, DucCat reported that his flounder was just 'okay'. The fries, at least, were plentiful and tasty.

It took us awhile to find the server to request our check. When it came- by which I mean, she zipped by the table, tossing the check down with a muttered thanks- we encountered a bit of sticker shock. Our meal and beers came up to almost $60!! Sucking it up, we pulled out cash, and began to play the waiting-for-our-server game. After five minutes, we asked another waitress if she could find her, and let her know we were ready. After another five minutes, we began deducting a dollar from her tip for every additional minute we sat waiting.

She made it down to a paltry 10%. At least the view was nice on the way out.


Blogger Cate said...

Gorgeous view - a shame it didn't match the service and food. As much as I love a night off from cooking, sometimes it just isn't worth it ... a shame.

August 25, 2005 8:51 PM  
Blogger s'kat said...

You live and you learn. And luckily, my husband' parent's live along that same river, so we can get the view anyday. With much better food, I might add!

August 26, 2005 9:00 PM  

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