The Crab Claw Restaurant, St Michaels, Maryland, USA Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Crab Claw Restaurant, St Michaels, Maryland, USA

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The Crab Claw is a lovely restaurant right on the water in St Michaels, which is on the Chesapeake side of the DelMarVa peninsula. There are two ways to get to the restaurant, by car or by boat. If you come by boat, you should anchor in the little harbour and row in. By car, you simply have to follow a map and then park in the town's main public parking area which is conveniently located a block away from The Crab Claw.

The Restaurant

On arrival to the restaurant you have two seating choices. The first option is to sit outdoors in the downstairs area, where you can watch the cooks steaming the crabs and other assorted shellfish in large drums. If you choose this option, you will need to look out for a party who looks like they are getting ready to leave, hover around them and then swoop in the second they leave their table, as the restaurant is often very crowded and as a result the rule 'first come, first served' applies.

Your second option is to sit upstairs in the indoor restaurant, in which case, you really want to sit in the front room which has three sides of screened-in window openings, affording a wonderful view of the boats and the harbour, and some adjacent properties. If you are lucky, you will even see them bringing in your lunch or dinner right off the boats. Make sure you request the front room, otherwise you will be sitting in the side or rear rooms which aren't nearly as visually attractive.

The Food

The main reason for a visit to the Crab Claw is, of course, to eat crabs. If this is the case, then it is very advisable to call in advance and request however many dozens of the largest crabs that you will need. If you don't, you will sit there and watch other tables getting much larger crabs than you, but when you ask for larger crabs, you will be told that only mediums are available. At any rate, calling in advance is always advisable, especially when crabs are in season, as the place is always packed.

If you go for dinner, make sure you thoroughly enjoy the dinner rolls that are made on the premises, as they are divine. If you are there for lunch, they can also be ordered for a minimal cost. Other seafood specialities of the house include steamed little neck clams, also known as soft-shell clams, and steamed cherrystone clams. They make a wonderful crab cake which can be served in sandwich form or on a platter. Also served are shrimp, mussels, oysters, and many types of fish which can be prepared many different ways. In short, whatever kind of seafood you like, you should be able to find it there1.

The Crab Claw is a traditional Chesapeake restaurant. Most dishes are flavoured with a healthy dose of Old Bay Seasoning. This spice blend is unique to the region and is generously applied to almost everything. The best beverage choice with your meal is beer. Beer is bought in pitchers and consumed heavily, especially if you are picking crabs. Find a beer the table all agrees on, order a pitcher and go from there.

Crabs are in season during the summer months. Be forewarned, the Crab Claw is not air-conditioned and it can get extremely hot. The upstairs has ceiling fans and is shaded which helps tremendously. However, none of this will matter once you are sitting at a table piled high with crab bits, a cold beer in your hand and a smile on your face.

1They do not, however, serve sushi.

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