Cult of the Crab at Waterfront Seafood Grill

Maine peekytoe crab salad at Waterfront Seafood GrillDid I just have a meal re-run?

Several months ago, I reported on Lobsterpalooza at Waterfront Seafood Grill. Recently, the fine folks at WSG invited me back to sample from their “Cult of the Crab” menu, which is running the month of March. (It may extend into April.) I feel like I can almost reprint the previous review, substituting “crab” wherever “lobster” appears. Some hits and some misses, with the more basic dishes tasting best.

Crab Rangoon was the starter; I was skeptical after having many horrendous versions of this in bad Chinese restaurants, but this one version offered much better texture and taste, moist and flavorful enough to enjoy without dipping into the accompanying plum and sweet-and-sour sauces. I also liked the peekytoe salad. Peekytoes are a variety of rock crab from Maine, which I found it to be sweet and succulent, though I wanted a little more acidity to spark the seafood flavor instead of tasting the more dominant carrot coulis.

Chesapeake Bay blue crab fritters had a welcome Creole influence (with corn and okra relish), but they needed more salt, as did the blue crab Benedict. (Is it just me, or are more and more restaurants under-salting their food—and not providing salt at the table, which should be easy enough to do?) I love the eggs Sardou on WSG’s brunch menu, and believe that the similar artichoke base to the Benedict dish would have been plentiful; the addition of a hard crouton below made the dish hard-to-eat.

Unfortunately, the fresh Maryland soft-shelled crab was a mess for me. My sister lived a stone’s throw from the Chesapeake Bay, so as a child I often went crabbing and afterward savored a simple sandwich of fried crab. It may be that WSG tried too hard to secure soft-shells too early in the year, as my crab had an off-flavor, which was (perhaps fortunately) lost in the asparagus and Yukon gold potato salad.

The best plate was the finale: the steamed red king crab tasting, featuring meaty pieces of crab from the Barents Sea, Hokkaido Bay, and Dutch Harbor. Side-by-side was a wonderful way to compare and contrast; my favorite was the hard-to-get (the Japanese are smart in keeping most for themselves!) Hokkaido Bay variety for its sweetness and lobster-like texture. But all were so delicious that I almost didn’t dip in the sides of lemon butter and truffle aioli sauces. (Okay…a little lemon butter for acid and fat didn’t hurt.)

Like I wrote about Lobsterpalooza, WSG is a great place to live it up and celebrate seafood in an entrancing environment. Joining the cult of the crab, though, comes at a pretty price. The Rangoon runs $14, salad peekytoe salad is $23, that soft-shell crab costs $42, and the three-crab tasting totals $85. If you have deep pockets and decide to go, my advice is KISS: keep it simple, seafood-wise.

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