It’s a famed event. After, all, we’re on the Crab Fest No. 6. But I’m late to the party and this was my first time around – but now I can finally say I’ve been initiated as a Hungry Cat Crab Fest attendee. The prix fixe pricing ($65) could justify itself well enough, with the starter courses providing a stable anchor to the batch of crabs to follow. The Peekytoe Crab Beignet with its spicy aioli was like a crispy wonder given a creamy kick. And the Solomons Island Crab Soup that followed was extremely flavorful and even a tad spicy, its vibrance really bringing my sinuses to their senses despite my recovering from a cold.
The spicy sauce that sat expectantly at the bottom of the bowl of Singapore-style Softshell Chili Crab rewarded me well. And it made me wonder less if the delicious, crunchy salad that smothered the crab was meant to distract in the first place. But what a refreshing salad to compliment the leggy crustacean. Just don’t ignore that sauce and accept the lesson in surface to meat ratio. Relish that softshell. Chew those legs!
And one thing’s for sure, you can always count on a good cocktail at The Hungry Cat. Solid pours all around – my mint julep not excepted. But when the crabs came out – and then again for round 2 (at 6 crabs per person), I was ready. Flip up that apron on his underbelly and pry his shells apart. Move aside his gills. Or hers, as a couple females ended up on our table – and a couple crabs with more liquid than meat. No matter, it was par for the course andÂ we were pretty much satiated and salted. The copious amounts of seasoning weren’t quite the problem, but whatever of it was salt encrusted my fingers in white. My white napkin, as it stood, became streaked with orange. The camera never came out again, not even for dessert.
Mmm, the sides. The Roasted Corn Salad With Pablano Chiles, Avocado and Queso Fresco was sweet and savory – great for tempering our spiced crab. The Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes With Provolone, Red Wine Vinegar and Oregano came with sweet onions and a kick-filled arugula salad. And once all the shells had been wrapped in the onceÂ table-covering newspaper and stowed away, our Lemon Curd Parfaits with berries came out to put the tart period on the end of our 4-hour meal. Sorry – were you going somewhere? Whether or not you’re late, you’ll have to roll there, now.
Bottom line: The $65 price point is a good deal. Not everything was a home-run but theÂ beginning courses and sides wereÂ tasty, the crabs are a tad salty, but let’s be honest. I have a hard time arguing with crab. Where’s that wooden mallet?!