Urban Crab Feed for the Season
2032 Union St., San Francisco
Open Mon., 11 a.m.-–3 p.m., Wed.–Sun., 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
Reservations, major credit cards accepted
In the Bay Area, we’re in the midst of a normal Dungeness crab season, which might sound unspectacular. But after a couple of years of late starts and scarce crabs, I’d take normal any year.
So to get more of the season’s best, I visited Nettie’s Crab Shack in the city’s Cow Hollow neighborhood. In the heart of the ritzy Union Street, Nettie’s has a popular patio seating where diners munch on fresh, local seafood. I’ve also been meaning to check out its Sunday crab feed since Nettie’s opened a few years ago.
I recruited my friend Ken and we dropped in on a Sunday morning. The patio was already packed, but I was happy to sit inside the nearly empty restaurant, which still has a lot of natural light.
The décor is New England crab shack, but more Martha Stewart than Old Bay. Because it was Sunday, and Nettie’s was serving up a brunch menu, both Ken and I ordered Bloody Marys. The Bloody Mary had less tomato flavor and a lot of spice, so I can’t say it’s one of the best in town.
Looking over the menu, I was tempted by some of the brunch items, but I was set on Dungeness crab. I was disappointed to find out Nettie’s no longer offered its crab feed (which previously included a salad, whole crab, potatoes, corn and dessert for $38 and then later $45). Instead, the whole crab is listed under the seasonal fish “off the boat” section where you order a fish item at market price and get the choice of two sides.
Ken and I stuck with our goals and we both ordered a whole Dungeness crab each (on this day selling for $36). Our waitress came by with plastic bibs, and I passed on it because I’m pretty careful with my crab eating, but Ken was proud to wear his and was happy to model it, too.
The whole crab can be roasted or steamed, and we both got ours roasted. The crab came out in a bucket, already chopped into pieces. To me, it’s technically not a whole crab because the top shell was gone and with it probably any crab butter found under it. What were served up were the prime parts, which were the claws and legs with parts of the body.
The crab was roasted with a spice rub that was on the salty side. I actually would have been happy with a simple crab with just some butter and garlic, but I still enjoyed my whole crab because the meat was fresh and sweet. And I love it when the meat comes out easily in whole pieces; makes cracking and eating it so much easier.
For my sides, I ordered the tangy slaw and roasted potatoes, a nice large serving that was fresh and filling. Ken got the potatoes as well, but went with the lentils, which he enjoyed.
Everything was a lot for brunch, but we couldn’t stop without dessert especially since there was butterscotch ($5) pudding on the menu. Ken ordered it first, so I went with the Meyer lemon coconut meringue tart ($8).
I tried a bit of Ken’s butterscotch pudding, which was nicely presented with cookie crumbles. The pudding was a bit pale and lacked a strong butterscotch flavor.
My lemon tart didn’t have a distinct flavor, but I did like the pastry shell, which was very flakey.
The service was really attentive and friendly, even as more people flowed into the restaurant, tired of waiting for a seat at the patio. The vibe seems fun, with a lot of families coming into the large dining area. And for me, I never leave crabby after eating Dungeness crab, especially on a sunny day in the Marina.
Single guy rating: 3 stars (fresh from the sea)
Explanation of the single guy's rating system:
1 star = perfect for college students
2 stars = perfect for new diners
3 stars = perfect for foodies
4 stars = perfect for expense accounts
5 stars = perfect for any guy's dream dinner
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Urban Crab Feed for the Season