Thursday, July 12, 2007

Steamed Crabs - A Baltimore Tradition

Like most good Baltimore folk, Johnnycakes and I love us some steamed crabs. We got to show that love tonight when we went out for some of the delicious crustaceans for dinner with our neighbors.

We had been planned to go to Mr. Bill's Terrace in on Eastern Avenue in the Essex area because we had so many great experiences in the past. Many Baltimoreans know about this little spot but it seems like more and more people are becoming familiar with the spot because there was an hour plus (to quote the host) wait for a table. I think the long waits, crowded bar and parking lot are an indicator of how good the crabs are there but we decided to not wait.
Like a good City resident, we decided to support a City business and visit Jimmy's Seafood on Holabird Avenue in Southeast Baltimore. I had heard positive things about the crabs from my boss and we decided to check it out.
The establishment is rather large. There is a carryout, bar with a dining area and a large formal dining area. The lighting was a little low but overall the atmosphere was nice.
Our friendly server let us know that crabs were available for $39, $49, $69, $89 and $99 (!) a dozen. The 89's were called jumbos and the 99's were called monsters! We did get a peek at both the 89's and 99's. I would have to say that the 99's were easily the largest blue crabs I have ever seen in my life. The claws were enormous. In fact, they had a threatening appearance which must be why they are called "monsters".The four of us decided to split a mix of three dozen $39's and $49's.
In addition, I ordered a "personal" size Greek salad, while Johnnycakes ordered a bowl of Maryland crab soup and our neighbors ordered cream of crab soup..

The salad was huge. In fact, I originally ordered a small salad but the server recommended that I downgrade to a personal size because the salads run so large. I ended up splitting the Greek Salad with Johnnycakes anyway in exchange for a few bites of his crab soup. The soup was very good. It had a rather thick consistency for soup but it was full of great taste.

We were a little overwhelmed when the crabs came out because there were so many of them! The seasoning, a mix of Old Bay and rock salt, was very good and it had a somewhat unique consistency compared to the standard seasoning on most crabs. Overall, the crabs were very heavy and packed with meat. Sometimes it can be very disappointing when you order a decent size crab but it is light as a feather and has no meat in it. These were packed with meat. We were not disappointed despite having to return one or two crabs because they were bad. The server eagerly replaced the bad crabs with fresh ones.

One unique characteristic of this crab house is that the restaurant serves an ear of corn still in the husk with each dozen of crabs. The corn wasn't the best I've had this season but I thought it was a nice touch.

I am almost ashamed to say that I ate 10 crabs! Yes. 10 crabs! That is a lot even by Baltimore standards. I can't help it. I can pick some crabs. Luckily, our neighbor's wife is also a crab picker extraordinaire and she must have eaten as many as I did.

Our bill was nearly $200.00, so tonight's meal was definitely not cheap! Crabs seldom are. It's the price you pay to feed your love for crabs! It's almost ingrained in you when you are from this town. Overall, I would highly recommend Jimmy's Seafood. In addition to the crabs, they have a rather large menu that looks like it has a Greek influence. According to the history in the menu, "Jimmy" is of Greek descent.
How many people like to eat ice cream after eating crabs? Johnnycakes and I's families always accompanied crabs with ice cream afterwards but our neighbors had never heard of it. We decided to introduce them to this somewhat popular tradition and went to Coldstone Creamery on Boston Street. Judging from the lines, we were not the only ones that like ice cream but I'm just not sure about the crab part!

1 comment:

Debi said...

I live in Dundalk, I've been to Jimmy's several times, and believe me Crabs are not the only thing they do well. My Husband and I save Jimmy's for celebrations, and I have ordered something different each time. they're Oyster Rockefella appetizer is perfection, as well as the Veal Oscar as a dinner dish. The crab Imperial is very rich and generous portions are a staple at Jimmy's
I would love to see a picture of the "monster" crab. Maybe next time we go out to celebrate this summer.
I have to mention one other place we go. Kasi Japanese Steak and Sushi. Much more intimate then Kobe's. less expensive too.No lines ever, and the food is excellent. The sushi is my favorite. They don't own a liquor license, but you can BYOB. huge savings on the check too!
If you want great French onion soup, try Della's on Philidelphia road.It's home made and perfect. Their steaks are great, stay away from the chicken, mine was dry and overcooked. I hear their seafood is good, but I can't vouch.