Crabs, glorious grabs! Aren't we lucky to live near the Chesapeake Bay, where we can indulge in the best crabs around? This month, I sampled crab cakes from three restaurants — Blackwall Hitch, Carrol's Creek Cafe and Buddy's Crabs & Ribs.
All three are Annapolis favorites with their own vibe and culture, and all feature fresh meat from Maryland blue crabs.
Blackwall Hitch, on the corner of 6th Street and Severn Avenue, just over Spa Creek, has become a favorite in Eastport. It's chic, lively and fun. With huge windows and contemporary lighting, it's bright and airy. The name refers to a blackwall hitch knot that sailors use to connect their boats to docks. The restaurant also has its own designated parking lot, a premium in Annapolis.
I purchased a crab cake sandwich sans the bread and fixings — just so I can compare apples to apples — well, crab cake to crab cake.
An average size, about the palm of a hand, this delectable dish was well balanced, with tender lump crab meat lightly seasoned, no shells, lightly breaded, and just enough light sauce to hold them together.
Buddy's Crabs & Ribs, located at 100 Main Street, is more laid-back and eclectic. It also has a fun atmosphere, with lots of smiling crab caricatures and decor. Plus, there's a great view overlooking Annapolis Harbor.
The crab cake from Buddy's reminded me of the classic crab cake from decades ago — slightly larger, fried to a crispy brown, full of lump crab meat with probably some other pieces mixed in with light breading, a perfect amount of a binder, seasonings on top and the whole package, all slightly spicy and full of flavor. There were few shells.
Carrol's Creek Cafe, located at 410 Severn Avenue at the Annapolis City Marina, has a more classic look and ambiance with fresh, bright colors and a gorgeous bar area where classic rock was playing. This is a perfect spot for a romantic evening or a wedding reception with a million-dollar view overlooking Spa Creek.
The crab cake offering was a lighter version — lump crab, minimally processed, with hardly any filler, if at all, with tiny scallions and an almost creamy, slightly sweet taste. Really, this one allowed the crab flavor to shine through on its own.
Staff members at Carrol's Creek were professional, kind and accommodating.
All three restaurants offer crab cakes as entrees or sandwiches. Each spot pairs crab cakes with vegetables, rice, salads or homemade sauces.
I thoroughly enjoy getting a feel of a restaurant — because they all have their own culture and draw — the location, decor, staff, food (of course) and even the music.
Note that some restaurant staff apologized for the high prices of crab cakes (averaging about $28 to $30), sharing that there is still a crab shortage, for various reasons, driving up prices. That doesn't stop the orders.
Remember — we're in Maryland, hon, and we love our crabs!
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