Since its opening in May, 2015, Crab and Claw has been one of the most-hyped restaurants in Emquartier, with photos of lobsters, lobster rolls and bibs lighting up Instagram and Facebook. Six months later, the crowds haven’t gone anywhere. On our last visit, late on a Thursday night, there was barely a spare seat in the room; a crowd of three-generation families to business-folk and awkward dates all baying for a taste of the type of seafood you’d usually enjoy sitting by the shore in Maine, USA.
The setting may be off (more on that later), but the food is spot on, emphasizing quality ingredients and authentic New England flavors. Live lobsters are imported daily from Maine in limited quantities and presented in a range of styles that will all cost you a pretty penny: steamed and served with drawn butter, grilled with garlic and butter (both B1,900 for 700-800g; B2,800 for 1,000-1,300g), and a couple more extravagant options. It’s worth the splurge, but you might want to dine in a group.
Anyway, we say the B950 lobster roll, in all its buttery goodness, more than justifies the price tag. Served without the slathering of mayo you find elsewhere, the buttered house-made bread lets the sweet, subtly smoky—and plentiful—lobster meat truly star. It’s rivaled by the perfectly crisp and seasoned fries—the portions are generous, but we still wish there were more. The menu also contains a variety of seafood boils and grills, of which the Old Bay-marinated grilled shrimp (B650) are another mountainous, messy highlight. It’s a quick and easy recipe, but it’s done right (those char marks).
The dishes that don’t require you to roll up your sleeves also stick to the rich, buttery theme, like the pasta uni-ara (squid ink pasta made in-house with cheese, uni butter, pancetta, uni sauce and fresh uni, B480), which strikes a rewarding balance between salty and sweet. The New England clam chowder (B220) is less exciting but wins for its texture of great, big chunks of clam and pancetta. There’s also a long list of oysters, of which we recommend the clean and smooth big Irish premium (B170/piece), and heaps of craft beers to choose from.
The food’s great, so what’s the catch? It’s true, the over-lit setting doesn’t create much in the way of mood. Yes, it’s in a mall, it’s noisy, the service is patchy, but we quite enjoy the bustling nature of the place: half spruced-up Red Lobster, half seafood co-op. While Crab and Claw doesn’t come cheap, it does set the bar high for premium seafood that’s not only fresh but also organic and sustainable.
This review took place in November 2015 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.