Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nettie’s Crab Shack in San Francisco

Urban Crab Feed for the Season
2032 Union St., San Francisco
Cow Hollow/Marina
PH: 415.409.0300
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

Nettie's Crab Shack on Urbanspoon


Mrs. L said...

Yikes, that seems expensive for crab! It's selling at my local grocery for about $7 a pound and that was cracked. Of course it wasn't fresh or roasted, but still, seems like a lot. Or am I just not used to ordering crab in restaurants?

Kim said...

I've never heard of this place. Must be because it's in the Marina :)

agent713 said...

I know nothing about fresh crab but it always throws me off when you start talking about it being "crab season" in February. That also shows that I've been reading your blog for awhile now because I've thought this a few times.

::waves to Ken:: Nice to "see" you! Looks like you enjoyed your crab! I'm craving it now too...

Single Guy Ben said...

Mrs. L, yes, of course it's always cheaper to buy it and make it at home, which I like to do as well during crab season. But it's also fun to just go out and get some whole crabs with friends. Come to think of it, $38 does sound a tad expensive, but it comes with two sides!

Kim, I know what you mean. But I "have" to head to the Marina to check out some of the food fun stuff.

agent713, does it throw you off because your crab season is different in your area? Or is it because you think of the other "crab" season? LOL

foodhoe said...

yum, I got a crab this weekend at Berkeley bow, which was small and expensive, but not $38 and I got to scoop up the crab butter... Yeah sometimes you do have to suck it up and fend your way into the Marina for food, but most times it's worth it. That looks almost the same as the crabfeed we went to last year.

Carolyn Jung said...

I love the bib! The last time my family ate Dungeness crab at Thanh Long, my hubby accidentally sprayed a few crab shells into my niece's hair. She took it all in good fun, though. Whew.

Row said...

Yum to crab, but boo to the non-inclusion of crab butter (love that stuff). Love the pic of Ken (*waves hello*) in his bib! :)

Anonymous said...

So this is Ken:)