Every summer, we do a city crab crawl, sampling this seasonal crustacean at its best. Years in the making, David Bouley’s Brustroke offers up one of our favorite discoveries — Dungeness crab & salmon roe in a rice pot. 21 Club’s still got some of the best crab cakes in the city and crab cakes, creatively layered with purple basil, squash and zucchini and The Modern’s making an Alaskan king crab cannelloni that’s so good we’ve added it to our “last meal menu.” Sidestep your way to one of these restaurants – no claws required.
Brushstroke - Dungeness Crab & Salmon Roe Rice Pot
30 Hudson St., at Duane St.
Openings like this one can often be anti-climactic. In this case, you wait almost ten years for the debut and then it fails to impress, but Brushstroke really was worth waiting for. David Bouley’s collaboration with Yoshki Tsuji of Tsuji Culinary Institute in Osaka, this Tribeca spot serves rigorously seasonal and traditional kaiseki cooking. In essenc, Bouley has brought Japan to you. The head chef is Isao
Yamada, who trained in Japan and has come to New York to deliver artfully and thoughtfully prepared dishes that pay homage to the season and this unique multi-course way of dining. Yamada’s tour de force is the steamed crab and salmon roe, served in an earthenware pot. One bite and you’ll understand why this special clay pot is so crucial to this simultaneously delicate, yet bountifully flavorful dish.
Chinese Mirch – Chili Crab Taro Nest
120 Lexington Ave., at 28th St.
Chinese Mirch combines the spices of Indian cooking with the fire of Szechuan and the flavors of Cantonese. The blending of these styles of cooking results in unique offerings, like soft cheese wontons in a chili pepper broth – the Indian and Chinese influence shining through. Our favorite is the Chili Crab Taro Nest with sauteed blue crab meat, peppers and taro. Consider yourself warned: “Mirch” is Hindi for spicy, and Chinese Mirch takes its name seriously.
The Modern – Alaskan King Crab Salad “Cannelloni“
9 W 53rd St., btwn. 5th & 6th Aves.
Danny Meyer’s got lots of great restaurants, but The Modern’s is perfect for art lovers. Located inside the Museum of Modern Art, the dining room overlooks the sculpture garden. Start with a tour of the museum, have drinks at bar, then head to the dining room for Gabriel Keuther’s lauded cooking. In our opinion, he’s outdone himself with this dish — Alaskan king crab salad cannelloni. What arrives at the table is a delicate crepe-like sheet of pasta cradling a sweet, moist crab salad that melts on your tongue. If you really want to do it right, get the supplement of osetra caviar.
Devi – Crab & Salmon Croquette
8 E 18th St., btwn. 5th & Broadway
Devi’s design-your-own prix-fixe ($40 for three courses, $50 for four) is a veritable Indian feast and a deal that you should take advantage of while crab’s still in season. Our favorite crustacean makes an appearance in a terrific appetizer of salmon & crab croquettes. Suvir Saran is always adding a unique twist to classic Indian cooking and here, he pairs the croquettes with a green chili-pickle mayo, which picks up the sweetness of the crab and adds a subtle kick to the salmon. Devi’s tea pairing menu recommends lavender mint tea, made with French lavender and Greek mint, to complement the croquettes, but we think a glass of white works just as well.
Bar Americain – Crispy Soft Shell Crab Salad
152 W 52nd St., nr. 7th Ave.
You could never accuse Bobby Flay of being boring. He simply refuses, adding an unexpected kick or novel flavor to everything. The menu at this stylish, American-style brasserie is inspired by regional foods across the country, Right now, Bar Americain’s serving two great crab dishes. The first is a corn soup with blue crab and barbecued potato chips and the other is a soft shell crab salad with a crispy soft shell crab, white beans, green onions and plenty of whole grain mustard. If you really want to meditate on all things crab, start with the soup, then move into salad for your main — making for a pretty stellar lunch break.
21 Club – Cornmeal-Crusted Crab Cake
21 W 52nd St., btwn.
5th & 6th Aves.
Mention the 21 Club and the first thing that comes to mind is the ceiling covered with toy cars or a power lunch scene. But this New York institution happens to serve some great food, thanks to the chef John Greeley, who’s been cooking there for over 15 years. Greeley has a knack for spiffing up classics, like steak tartar prepared tableside and a classic crabcake. He dusts his version with cornmeal and layers it with whatever’s in season. Right now, that means purple basil, zucchini and umbrella-shaped patty pan squash. Come September, the 21 Club will transform its lounge into Bar 21, and for the first time in the Club’s history, will serve beer on tap. Here’s to hoping they’ll be barside crab cakes, too.
Momoya – Red Crab & Spider Roll
427 Amsterdam Ave., btwn. 80th & 81st St.
Sometimes, it’s nice to eat foods in their pure, unadulterated state, so you can taste just how fresh they are. That’s one of the reasons we love sushi. When you think of crab and sushi, you think cooked crab or (gasp) fake crabmeat. Not at Momoya on the Upper West Side, This neighborhood sushi joint serves red crab sashimi-style or as sushi and both are delicious. If that’s not your cup of tea, there’s always their spider roll, indisputably “American at heart,” but what’s not to love about tempura-battered soft shell crab rolled up with seaweed, rice and lettuce.