Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Crab Shack

From the brochure on local restaurants we found The Crab Shack on nearby Tybee Island. Twenty years ago, it was the site of only a boat hoist and a bar where local fishermen came to drink and lie. Today it is equal parts tourist trap (Alligator Pond! "Gift Shack!" Feed the alligators Alligator Treats available for purchase in the Gift Shack!) and low country casual eatery.

Regardless of how successful it's gotten in the last two decades, I love that the owners didn't decide to look for greener, posher grasses. When we turned off the main highway to go to our destination, we were turning toward a couple of single-wide trailers backed up to the marshland. The real estate improved only slightly in the half mile between the highway and The Crab Shack.

The modest surroundings appeared to deter no one. We fought our way through the crowds to the hostess station ("Hostess Shack!")and were told that our party could be seated in 45 minutes. There was plenty to do during our wait. We watched the gators snooze for awhile and toured the Gift Shack. We also we able to go out over the beach on a raised pier to check out the sand crabs all over the shore and even spied a couple of rays in the shallow waters of the Savannah River.

It all caused our wait to go quickly. We were seated outside at a table made of plywood, with an 18-inch hole cut into the center so that we could toss our shells into the trashcan beneath. The plywood tables, plus the plank floors, the light fixtures made of bushel baskets and the heavy population of CATS prowling the property (including the outdoor dining room) made me feel like the would-be mistress of some legal hero in a Grisham novel. We've stolen away to this dive because it's in the next town over and no one will recognize... Oh! Excuse me! I lost my head for a moment.

Sophia and I ordered the shrimp boil, with some crab added to mine. Michael ordered the scallops. Brooks is allergic to shellfish and thinks death is sure if he comes within 12 feet of a lobster claw. We roll our eyes and ask for more clarified butter. He got a barbequed chicken sandwich with the sauce on the side, having decided that he doesn't like barbeque sauce. Ava got the kids' pizza. *sigh* I hate kids' menus.

Brooks' plan for a chicken sandwich sans spicy went adrift, however, when he mistook a bottle of cocktail sauce on the table for ketchup. After the initial moment of alarm, he recovered and enjoyed the combination of flavors. Mike liked his scallops well enough, but he thinks there can be no such thing as a poorly prepared scallop... they are such a rare treat for him.

Sophia and I both enjoyed our shrimp, time-consuming entree though they are. The challenge is to get them peeled and consumed before they get cold and less appetizing. Michael, having finished his dinner two sweet teas prior, helped Soph peel the last five or six shrimp so that she could concentrate her efforts on mastication. Now, is there another way to eat shrimp boil? Because it seems all the Old Bay is actually all over the shell, which then gets peeled off and tossed into the plywood abyss. Did we do something wrong? Is there a way to get the seasoning into our actual mouths?

This meal was a success, not just as a meal, but as our evening's entertainment. I am loving Savannah! More to come.


  1. I actually saw a place similar to this here up north and the time that my husband and I decided to go, it was closed. I was REALLY disappointed, now even more so when I read your description!
    I agree with your husband - scallops (well, all seafood) are wonderful.

  2. Do they actually use Old Bay or are you using that like "kleenex"? We had various shrimp boils in N. Carolina and I always thought they were a sorry excuse for Old Bay and the recipe on the back of its box. The Old Bay recipe has salt and vinegar in the water/Old Bay mixture. I think the combination of ingredients "carries" the flavor all the way through the shrimp.

  3. Margaret, I just love finding places like that. Where did you see your version? PA? Reb, I'm totally using Old Bay like Kleenex. The drive from the south to the north was beautiful! Redbuds blooming all over the mountains.

  4. Rebway has it right...Old Bay goes into the water too and it permeates the food. ;)


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