Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Waterfront Crab House - Back in Action
Waterfront Crab House - 2-03 Borden Avenue, Long Island City NY 11101
7 Train to Vernon Blvd/Jackson Avenue
My friend Gina has been wanting to check out the Waterfront Crab House for some time, and after spotting it when I was at the Water Taxi Beach, I was curious too. We had the guys join us for a nice evening of conversation and lots of seafood.
It's wonderful how homey and lived-in this place feels, even after the recent fire they experienced. They reopened just a month ago now, and everything looks as it should--after all, it holds a lot of history, as it's been around for more than 30 years.
Indoor as well as partial outdoor seating is offered but the indoor is a lot cozier and authentic, as the outdoor consists of hard picnic tables. We sat inside, in the back room which was a lot quieter than the front-of-the-house. Crescent-shaped booths are common, providing a nice way to accommodate larger groups. There's also plenty of nostalgic memorabilia on the walls such as old murals, random merry-go-round horses and various little knick-knacks that have been collected over the years. Although it could seem a bit strange, it works to create a comfortable and welcoming environment.
I've heard great things about the seafood here and my experience didn't leave me disappointed. They key, I came to discover was to order "lighter" food, as most dishes use a lot of oil and butter--so the plainer the better.
Baked Clams Oreganato - This was a winner for all of us, as the clams were fresh and topped with a crunchy breadcrumb mixture that was both aromatic and flavorful. It was nice that the portion was generous and we each downed about 3 medium sized clams. Like with most dishes here, lots of butter was used but not so much that it was overpowering.
Escargot Dumplings - We were all captivated by the sound of this dish because it was so different from traditional escargot, which usually comes in the original snail shell. The dumpling was crispy and so delicious, reminding both Gina and I of Crab Rangoon. The escargot filling was lovely and again very fresh, with no fishy aftertaste. I'd recommend this to adventurous and safe eaters alike, as there is enough familiarity in the dish to not scare away conservative eaters.
Scallops (2 ways) - Both Gina and Dan went for scallop dishes with different preparation methods--Dan ordered them broiled while Gina got them fried. I preferred the fried ones because they had more flavor, but there were too many on the plate to finish. Also, ordering fried onion rings made the dish hard to get through--not that it wasn't good, Dan said that the onion rings were crunchy and awesome but that the quantity was overwhelming. Next time, both Gina and Dan said that they'd order something different, as the bay scallops were too tiny to get any significant substance out of.
Stuffed Filet of Sole - I decided to play it safe by ordering this light fish with a unique twist--it was filled with crabcake stuffing. Wow! I absolutely loved it! The fish itself was gentle, with a creamy, luxurious crab middle that made it a lot more exciting to eat--also reminding me of the filling that they put in lobster. I ordered a side of rustic mashed potatoes, with the skin still on. Yum! They were awesome, creamy and just the right amount of buttery.
Maryland-Style Crabs - Joe went for the main attraction of this place--the crabs. Being from the D.C./Maryland area, he wanted to experience The Crab House's version of this dish. Overall, I'd say that he was satisfied, as he finished a gargantuan tray of about 20+ crabs. I don't know how he did it but he nearly licked his plate (I mean, tray) clean, so the crab meat must've been more than acceptable.
Service and Cost:
Our server was nice although not very responsive. It would've been great if he anticipated our needs instead of reacting to them--for example when he cleared Joe's full crab carcass tray only after we asked him to. However, he was kind and although we got impatient with him, he never showed his frustration.
Costs are moderate and worth it for the quality of seafood that you get. Appetizers range $6.50-$12.95, entrees are in the $16.95 - $28.95 ballpark and some items are market price. Our dinner set us back about $40 per person including tax and tip.