BY BETH KAISERMAN
Most seafood lovers would agree that crab cakes taste best right by the sea in Maryland, with a light beach breeze blowing and maybe a hint of sand in the back of your mouth.
I arrived at City Crab Saturday around 4 during Happy Hour, so I chose an ice cold Corona to accompany the meal. If I was hungrier I would’ve tried a half-price appetizer or a few $1 oysters. But with a nice basket of muffins and bread on the table, I knew that and a meal would be more than enough.
In fact, the bread basket turned out to be the highlight of the whole experience. Marina Deck, my favorite restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland, serves up fresh blueberry muffins and other delicious breads, so my hopes were up for City Crab when I saw the bread basket. Unfortunately, the rest of the meal was a shabby excuse for a Maryland seafood experience.
The last time I attempted a crab cake in New York was late last summer at South Street Seaport. This wasn’t quite as traumatizing as that – in fact, the crab cakes here were filled with a decent amount of lump crab meat, though most of it was shredded, and I love biting on some tender chunks of crab meat. Despite my efforts to eat more greens, I chose the sweet potato fries for a side, which needed more salt and were overall forgettable. At least they weren’t greasy, and the portion size was enough for sharing.
The crab cakes just didn’t have that sea taste they do by the beach in Maryland. And unfortunately hearing The Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk” in the background can’t make up for that.
I did feel like I was out of town – but not in a good way. Though the restaurant has a beachy vibe, its location on Park Avenue is just, well, unnatural. Obviously, you’re supposed to become immersed into the restaurant’s theme, but I just can’t get past the fact that I’m steps away from the bustling 5th Avenue filled with overzealous shoppers.
This place seems pretty worthwhile for the Happy Hour, an okay environment for sharing reasonable (only when half-price) appetizers and a few drinks. Other than that, I can’t commit to an entire meal here again. Thanks for the memories, City Crab.