SJ here. For the past year I gazed with a certain hesitant lust at Brooklyn Crab. As it was being built (and looking like an old-fashioned Fire Island beach house) I thought, as everyone probably did, what a smart idea! What a great view! Beer and Crabs overlooking the harbor. Pretty Simple. Pretty great! When it opened, it was immediately jam-packed — a complete and total success and I just never made it over.
This past weekend was glorious. Spring in all of Spring’s perfection — sun shining, dry breeze blowing and crisp as a freshly picked cucumber. I had friends coming and I thought how nice it would be to go to Brooklyn Crab, sit outside and take in those harbor views while drinking beer and eating crabs…And then I read the reviews. Man, Brooklyn Crab was so terribly reviewed that I almost called the whole thing off, but then I thought well, how bad could it really be? At least the beer should be cold and even eating some crappy peel and eat shrimp still seemed okay. So I geared myself up to not be upset by bad food and bad service and ended up going. After an hour-long wait (which was easy as I bought some wine at Red Hook’s great Dry Dock and took it out to the Louis Valentino Park and Pier) we were seated. The view of the harbor was brilliant and a kind of giddy, beach-side-vacationy-fun vibe suffused the whole place. It was precisely what I wanted. We ordered Maryland Crabs, some Steamers, a mixed seafood boil with shrimp, King Crab legs, corn, clams, potatos, etc and some fried shrimp. The Crabs were as good as those I had had in Baltimore and the Seafood Boil was done just right, nothing overdone and we had lots of fun and made a total mess cracking crabs and picking out the meat. Oddly the potato that was included in the Seafood boil was excellent! Perfectly cooked and infused with the Old bay seasoning and the briney flavors of the crabs and clams. The fried shrimp were mediocre and the steamers weren’t the best I ever had, but there was tons of food and between five people we managed to eat everything and really enjoy ourselves. No it wasn’t the greatest seafood meal of my life by any means, but it was totally respectable and just totally jolly. I also enjoyed what a nice cross section of Brooklyn were eating there AND working there — real Brooklyn families from Irishy looking Cop families to Asian familes from Sunset Park to Jamaican families to twenty somethings on dates and nary a hipster in sight to complain about the lack of locavore credentials. In many ways, Brooklyn Crab reminded me of the blue collar seafood spots in City Island — no pretensions at all. The prices were not cheap but they weren’t insane. And when we finished, the Manger (I’m guessing) came over and asked us how everything was. I told her we had a great time and told her that I was worried before we came because the reviews were so crappy. And she sort of said, yeah, it was a bit of a struggle last year but they were really trying to improve…and I could think was yeah, you did! So if you want to eat some crabs, drink some cold beers and overlook perhaps the greatest urban water view outside of Istanbul, then turn away from the reviews because Brooklyn Crab hits the spot.