Monday, June 25, 2012

Soft Shell Crabs and Lager c/o Surfing Crab

On my first full day in Delaware I decided it was time to branch out and try a different restaurant. I had a few visions of myself sitting down in front of a pile of blue crabs and eating them all by myself, but somehow determined that from some angles that would be awesome, it might also be a little on the sad side. Even with that image/purpose banished, I still was crab-focused and read good things about the Surfing Crab so decided to give it a try. When you walk into the Surfing Crab's relatively low-key, non-descript cinder block building, you're immediately facing an area for take-out. To the left is a big screened in room with cement floors and long picnic tables for proper crab picking. Up and a little to the right is the bar, and through another door yet another seating area. I was, as I often am, alone and the hostess suggested I might like to sit at the bar. I didn't argue, though sometimes I think sitting at the bar alone is actually a more worrisome state than at a table. In any case, the bartender was friendly and quickly asked me what I'd like to drink. I said lager. He then told me about their specials in honor of 'lobster day/weekend.' But I already had my heart set on soft shell crabs and quickly said as much. He placed the order but then came back to say that the crabs were still scuttling their way from where they had been picked up to the restaurant and might take half an hour to arrive. Waiting half an hour for soft shell crabs is not, in my opinion, the worst thing to do...but I did consult the menu again to see if anything else would satiate my specific desires. The bartender strongly suggested that I might enjoy the crabcake, but I gave him my usual refrain: I don't order crabcakes at restaurants because I feel like I always make them better myself. While he was respectful, he didn't think this was an accurate statement. He pointed out they had very little filler, were fresh lump not pasteurized or otherwise first contained (if I understood him right). The only other person at the bar - a 40-something dude eating all you can eat crabs by himself - turned and told me that anything I ordered here would be very good. I didn't succumb to the pressure. The bartender gave a quick call to the man in the truck who was driving the crabs to their final destination to check how long it'd be, and came back with an ETA of about 15 minutes. I said I would be happy to wait, and contented myself with my lager and my continued devouring of the Game of Thrones books.
Soon enough the crabs' arrival was announced  and no more than eight or ten minutes passed before these fried sweetlings were on a plate in front of me.  I chose the slaw and veggie of the day as my sides. Some places, the veggie side dish is a rather sad thing. Watery. Overly salty. Not salty enough. Somehow not loved or given much respect. Filler.  I've got to say that the corn/zucchini veggie side was not relegated to such a bland state of affairs. The corn's sweetness was lovely and the zucchini weren't overly cooked into mush.And there were actual flavors going on! The slaw was a little too sweet for my taste, but nothing to complain about.
The crabs were also successful. I disapprove of those who drown the crab in thick batter with little flavor, and this is not what I greeted when the plate was put in front of me. Crisp, the crabs had only the thinnest layer of breading. And even that was well spiced with old bay and maybe pepper? I was quite pleased about the whole thing. I gobbled the crabs and veggies down in rather record time and enjoyed a second beer before vacating.
Throughout the meal you could hear the staff call out numbers and types for eat-in and take-out customers with hard shell blue crabs on their minds. Just as I was leaving, this little area was set of for what looks like two people were were intent on enjoying a few dozen at the bar.
Really a great spot. Friendly service. Bustling. Simple food done well without a lot of pretension on any side.


Huckleberry said...

You're reading the Game of Thrones books! How far along are you? I really, really enjoyed them (a bit of a guilty pleasure, but still).

cc said...

Oh I'm enjoying them heartily. I finished the first book during my lake trip. The second book at the beginning of my Delaware trip. The third book just the other day. Now I'm on the fourth and I'm getting that panicky feeling I get when reading book series I don't actually want to ever end!

Huckleberry said...

You are not alone with that panicky feeling: