I spent over a decade living in Baltimore. Yeah, so? So I got to eat some nice regional delicacies that are harder to come by on the west coast. One such delicacy is the Maryland steamed crab. Nothing said summer like sidling up to a newspaper covered picnic bench and grabbing a mallet and a cold beer and going to town for several hours. It was social. It was a party. It was really good.
So I was thrilled to learn that on a few select dates in the summer, The Hungry Cat brings crabs to sunny LA. I grabbed some friends, grabbed the final day and the last table, and we went for a crab feast.
Walking in to The Hungry Cat, the first smell was that of the pungent, fragrant spice, Old Bay. Boy did that bring back some memories. I used to work in a big crab house in Baltimore and for most of one summer, I smelled like Old Bay seasoning, but I still love the smell and the spice. I did a quick scan of the restaurant and was happy to see newspaper covering all the tables and mallets to do some serious crab hammering. So far, so good.
The menu had a few salads like a fresh tomato-watermelon and green salad, but no potato salad or fries, which is usually a nice staple to accompany crabs - and to fill you up.
Luckily there was an addicting grilled corn on the cob drenched with lime, spices and cotija cheese. We had 3 orders.
I got Rose. Yeah, I know. It's not a typical crab companion, but it is a great summer wine. We moved to beer after the Rose to right matters.
They were bringing the crabs in live to the outside patio and steaming them up to order. While it wasn't just Old Bay seasoning that was added, it did contain heavy amounts and was equally good.
The steamer told me that he ordered jumbo crabs and this is what they sent. They looked like smalls and were pretty light, but evidently crab season wasn't as fruitful this year.
Some of the meat was better than other's. Some claws gave rewards for picking, and others just put more spice under my finger nails, but it was still the same experience. I sat around a newspaper covered table with friends, eating, drinking, banging my mallet and enjoying a wonderful summer day.
Sorry to say that The Hungry Cat's summer crab days are over for the season, but be on the lookout for them starting up again next summer. Luckily there's half price oyster Monday's at The Hungry Cat to get us through!
The Hungry Cat (Santa Monica is now closed)
1535 North Vine Street, Hollywood