If someone told me they had found a great crab restaurant in the City, I’d be double checking exactly which city they were referring to. The City as in the one in London? I’d say they were having a laugh. When I’m craving some crustaceans, I’m picturing a little beach shack and cheery fishermen, not a concrete jungle filled with stuffy offices and suits chasing their next step up the corporate ladder. But such wild claims are just calling out to be investigated and luckily for you, a certain someone and I took one for the team.
Arriving at Broadgate Circle on a Friday evening did nothing to quell my suspicions that we were on a bit of a wild goose chase. The mosh pit of City-slaves were definitely more interested in letting loose and popping open the prosecco than they were about any food, decent or otherwise. But undeterred, we sidestepped around them and made our way to Crab Tavern to see if there could possibly be a decent crab dinner to be found in the City.
The bar area was absolutely heaving so I was relieved to find there’s a separate-ish restaurant section – it doesn’t quite escape the obnoxiously loud beats but I thought it gave it a fun Friday night atmosphere. A certain someone wasn’t quite as convinced but the pop tunes are not his cuppa tea at the best of times. Good thing our fast thinking waiter came and distracted him with the offer of drinks… it seemed fitting to start the evening with a Crabtini, the house cocktail made with vodka, lavender syrup, rhubarb and violet.
Now, let’s not forget that we were here on a mission… crab, crab, and more crab. So the Crab Taster was an obvious choice to start with; the little lettuce crab salad and mini crab toasts both contained pleasantly sweet crab, but weren’t all that memorable. The Caesar crab roll and crispy soft shell crab however, were lipsmackingly delicious. The brioche rolls were generously stuffed with a lightly dressed crab filling, their butteriness was wonderfully emphasised by a gentle toasting. I could have devoured another two at least, alongside a couple more of the soft shell crab which had an exceptionally well-seasoned coating. Whatever herbs and spices they threw together in that mix, they were a winning combination.
We also ordered a Crab ’n’ Waffle because I was curious to see whether it would convince me that the savoury waffle thing works. I actually quite like waffles but the idea of slapping a piece of fried chicken or that very popular duck leg and egg on top of it doesn’t really tickle my fancy. I liked the lashings of crab with guacamole and I liked the waffle, however, do I want them together? Probably not, but the trend has lived longer than I expected so I suspect it will have many fans, particularly during brunch service.
As tempted as I was to have another crab roll, we branched out and ordered some other seafood dishes – there’s a really good selection and even some meat dishes for those who stumble in without a clue. But before our mains arrived, our ever-observant waiter obviously saw the look of love we gave the soft shell crab and delivered us an extra which we gratefully accepted. Once we had made light work of that unexpected treat, a certain someone had the pan fried cod with crispy kale, mussels, chorizo and orange mayo which was well executed and delivered great wholesome flavours.
Meanwhile I tried the grilled baby octopus with pineapple, red pepper and mango salsa, chopped coriander and bay cress. If the cod could be described as traditional, my octopus dish would be anything but. I was expecting the salsa to be cold, but it leaned towards lukewarm so those who can’t stomach cooked fruit should stay well away from this one. Personally, I don’t mind that kind of thing, and the fresh, sweet flavours were singing to my tastebuds. All the baby octopus were also perfect: tender with a bit of bite left in them.
Crab Tavern are not tight-fisted with their potions so by this point I was just as well stuffed as those brioche rolls which almost made me forgo dessert. Almost. I strategically chose an orange panna cotta – something light with a bit of fruit on the side, perfect! However, our waiter had other ideas… he saw right through me and delivered us an ad hoc dessert platter instead.
Alongside the panna cotta (which had a fabulous wobble by the way) was half a gooey chocolate brownie, a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream and a half a plum tart which was the surprise favourite. This is perfect for indecisive orderers such as yours truly or small groups who want a small taste of something sweet to end the night on – fingers crossed they pop this option on the menu soon!
I think it’s fairly obviously that this was a mission successfully completed and not at all the wild goose (crab) chase I expected at the start. We ventured into the City and found a really great crab restaurant – not something I ever expected to be telling people! Crab Tavern are delivering solid dishes – the menu is diverse and caters to groups who just want a nibble with drinks, those who want a quick, casual bite after work, and even those who want to linger a little longer over dinner. You could easily dismiss Crab Tavern as one of those bars which serves food as an afterthought to the drinks, but it’s so much better than that!
Are you a fan of crab? Have you been to Crab Tavern?
Thanks to Crab Tavern for our delicious crab dinner and our waiter Gabor for looking after us so well, but as always, all opinions are mine and mine alone!