Review: A Shellfish Treat at Crab Tavern

Crab Tavern is now permanently closed.

One of the running themes amongst London’s myriad food scenes is American food. You probably already have your favourite burger place, hot dog stall and wings hangout. A slightly lesser known sub-category is the wonderful seafood found on both coasts, as well as down south. Back in my travelling days some of my favourite foodie memories come from harbourside restaurants in the U.S. Crab Tavern, located in Broadgate Circle near Liverpool Street, took me right back there.

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Olive, raisin and fennel sourdough

We started off with some fresh olive, raisin and fennel sourdough while perusing the menu. Served in a tin pot with bread sticking out over the top, the bread had some real flavour to it, with raisins proving an effective if unusual ingredient.

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Black pepper fried squid

The fried black pepper squid served with lemon aioli began to showcase the wonderful array of seafood flavours. Served with a wedge of lime to add some sharpness, the crisp, densely textured squid rings soaked up the lemon aioli hungrily. The black pepper was baked into the breadcrumb coating of the squid, which lent a refreshing look to a classic dish.

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Oysters of the day

The oysters of the day, with prosecco mignonette, are another big-hitting dish in the seafood world. Presented on a bed of ice, with lemon and the mignonette in the centre, the oysters looked a formidable prospect. I love the ritual of eating an oyster – preparing one with the mignonette and lemons, putting it up to your mouth in the build up to throwing your head back and sucking it down. Shucks away! The oysters in question here were undoubtedly fresh, with the prosecco flavouring adding to the wonderful experience.

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West coast bucket boil

For our main course we opted for the west coast bucket boil. We knew we’d picked well when aprons and specialised eating equipment were provided ahead of the food. The dish arrived in a giant pan handle, and the sheer volume of what lay ahead became apparent. The bucket consisted of crab claws, lobster, mussels, potatoes and corn on the cob, with lemons thrown in for good flavouring measure. We also ordered some chips and another portion of bread on the side.

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West coast bucket boil with sides

What followed was by turns messy, unpredictable, and incredible. Despite my earlier boast of seafood eating, I’m clearly not an experienced devourer of shellfish. We had bits of crab and lobster flying all over our table (something the restaurant had clearly prepared for with the aprons – a wise move). However, once inside the tough shells, the rewards of both the crab and lobster were enormous. The other elements combined to round out what was a tour de force of a main course. It felt like having the best of everything a restaurant can produce in one go.

Somehow we found room for dessert. The brownie stack with salted caramel ice cream provided a warm, sweet finish to the meal, and salted caramel ice cream is a revelation. Similarly, the baked cheesecake with a berry compote left a lovely sweet taste in the mouth to finish.

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Espresso martini

A huge meal, then. Inspiration was needed to help us get home, and we found it in the form of some espresso martinis. The drinks were delicious throughout the evening but the espresso martini needs a special shout out as it rounded out a special meal. The Crab Tavern offered a host of seafoody goodness, providing a novel, refreshing experience. The world may be my oyster, but I doubt I’ll be going further than Broadgate Circle for my next seafood fix.

Crab Tavern

Broadgate Circle, London, EC2M 2QS

About James Gray

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