The Crab Pot - Long Beach
There are better places to eat crab. And for cheaper too. But once in a while, it just has to be The Crab Pot in Long Beach. It's one of those restaurants that out-of-town visitors love to be taken to -- an old school seafood joint complete with wooden mallets, plastic bibs and nautical theming to the hilt.
And it's located dockside next to a marina for a whiff of that salty sea air. What better place to eat seafood than within sight of the ocean? Which begs the question: why don't people insist on eating steak in a pasture?
The menu is typical of what you'd see in this type of place. Halibut, salmon, and other domestic species are simply grilled or fried for fish and chips. There's steamed lobster and crab at "market price", which always translates to "expensive".
But the reason to go is something they call the SeaFeast for Two. This is a hands-on, peel-and-eat, crack-and-shuck mountain of shellfish dumped on your table, dusted with a mild-pepper seasoning. In the pile of crustacean appendages and mollusks bodies, you'll also find steamed new potatoes, corn on the cob and andouille sausage. These are meant to fill you up, since only a fraction of the weight of the shellfish is actually edible.
They have a number to choose from, ranging from the crabless SeaFeast called The Cove ($14.95 per person), which just has clams, mussels, and shrimp; to one called The Alaskan ($32.00 per person), which touts three species of crab (King, Dungeness, and Snow).
The catch (pun intended) is that you have to order a SeaFeast in multiples of two (i.e. a minimum of two in one price class). And if you have an odd number of people in your party, a pair must get a more expensive SeaFeast than the third person.
Now on to the criticism: The crab are steamed from frozen, so they can be a bit anemic. Because of this you'll find some of the meat stubbornly clings to the shell like barnacles on a ship. Anyone who has eaten live crabs will know that it should slide off effortlessly from the casing. These people will be most disappointed at what The Crab Pot offers.
Speaking of shells, some of them will bend instead of crack, making those wooden mallets as useless as a hammer on rubber nails.
And Crab Pot's dungeness crab legs are particularly disappointing, yielding succulence only near the joints. Breaking into a thick, fat shell, you'll be expecting the crustacean equivalent of Roseanne Barr, but instead you get Mary Kate Olsen (which in other circumstances wouldn't be bad).
The meat in the snow crab legs are better, since they seem to be hardier to being revived from its cryogenic state. And they're easier to extract too.
Even easier still are mussels, clams, and shrimp which are easy pickins' and delicious after a dunk in melted butter.
Once you finish gorging, clam shells, spent crab casings, and bald corn cobs should fill the metal bowl they provide as a waste receptacle and spittoon. You get a feeling of accomplishment when you see it. Except in most instances, you will ask yourselves, "If we ate all that, why aren't we full?"
This is the reason you must order the Clam Chowder ($3.25 for a cup) before the meal, which is creamy, savory and as good as clam chowder gets. And afterwards, you must finish with a Strawberry Rhubarb Cake ($6.95), which is baked to order in a bread pan -- a gloriously messy, crude mixture of tart rhubarb compote and boxed yellow cake mix.
And heck you might as well get a side of ice cream while you're at it too, because by this time you would've already spent a small fortune.
The Crab Pot
215 Marina Drive
Long Beach, Ca 90803