24 Reed Street, near Conover Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn
Getting There: F,G to Carroll Street; Ikea Ferry from South Street Seaport
Restaurant Review: Brooklyn Crab
Red Hook Brooklyn has long been a summertime destination for New Yorkers, be it for watching a game at the ball fields, or arguing with a loved one about which entertainment center to pick up from Ikea. With picturesque waterfront views and ferry service to and from Manhattan however, the neighborhood is destined to become a sought after spot for new businesses, bars, and restaurants. Perhaps clairvoyance is one of the many skills possessed by the folks behind Brooklyn Crab, a three level, New England style waterfront crab shack that popped up here in June. And although getting here is no easy trip, the destination and its surrounding setting certainly make the journey worthwhile.
Cemented directly in between, and with alternating views of Ikea and the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Crab is a spot that screams out for summertime fun. The bottom floor is decked out with communal picnic tables for dining as well as a full miniature golf course, pool table, and cornhole games out back. But the place is hardly restricted to sports nuts. The entire place is saturated with lobster and crab traps hanging overhead as well as a gigantic mounted fish that greets you upon entry, which only adds to the fun ambiance at the mostly outdoor spot- without being corny or overwhelming. Between each table sit dozens of different bottles of hot sauce brought in from all over, serving as one part conversation piece and one part condiment, but mostly, as casual decoration. The wooden picnic tables are exactly as you’d anticipate, equipped with empty beer buckets filled with paper towel rolls, tools to dismantle your shellfish, and wet naps to wipe up post meal.
The menu meanwhile sports fresh hot and raw fare, although it does lie on the pricier side. Hoping for a tasty lobster roll, the sandwich was noticeably absent from an otherwise vast menu, but luckily the place had a bevy of other delicious options to keep us completely satisfied. The “Peel & Eat Shrimp” (1/2 lb. $11, 1 lb. $19) was doused liberally in old bay seasoning and served hot. Dipping each tender piece in a liberal amount of cocktail sauce and washing it down with an ice cold Corona in the sun just felt like a seasonal rite of passage. The half-pound portion was generous enough for our party of two to share, even though we both eyed-down the last piece of shrimp. The “Pan Fried Maryland Crabcake” ($14) on the other hand was a bit on the diminutive side but only in size, not on taste. The thick, round patty was well seasoned and sided with a creamy red pepper aioli that paired nicely with the hot chunks of fresh crab meat- our only knock being we wished it had been larger.
Eschewing the traditional lobster and fried seafood baskets, we opted for a smattering of the chilled works that Brooklyn Crab had to offer, which came in the form of the “Cool Platter” ($26). We alternated destroying one of the two sets of the half-pound of snow crab legs and ladling out droplets of mignonette sauce onto the four succulent oysters. The drawn butter that was plated with the side of corn on the cob ($4), proved pivotal for lapping up the delicious crab meat, from shells that could be cracked by hand. The extra half pound of spicy peel & eat gulf shrimp served with the platter were a bit different from the variety we’d devoured earlier, but were similarly delicious nonetheless. The creamy side of cole slaw ($1) served nonchalantly in a plastic ramekin is best suited for one person, but provides a nice contrast to the otherwise straightforward seafood.
Brooklyn Crab’s style of cooking is neither revolutionary nor is it necessarily innovative. However the charm of the place lies in its unique identity. Despite all that New York City has to offer, a casual waterfront seafood spot was sorely missing. Whether it’s an informal dinner, a family outing on the place’s roof deck, or a rowdy bunch of friends spending an afternoon boozing or playing games out in the summer sun, Brooklyn Crab has given us another reason to head out to Red Hook, where eating with your hands is encouraged.
Rundown of the Meal
1/2 Pound Peel & Eat Shrimp ($11)*
Pan Fried Maryland Crabcake ($14)
Raw and Chilled
Cool Platter ($26)- 1/2 Pound Snow Crab Legs, 1/2 Pound Spicy Peel & Eat Gulf Shrimp, 4 Oysters & Creamy Mustard Sauce
Corn on the Cob ($4)