- IM Feinschmecker Aug 13, 2001 11:17 AM
A lot of good comments on the best sources of steamed crabs in Baltimore, but how about in the DC- Northern Virginia area? Would appreciate a few good names for quality steamed crabs and real crab cake locations around here, especially in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. TIA
Northern Virginia is a very weak area for steamed crabs. However, the Fairfax Crab House (AKA Captain Pell's) gets my native Baltimorean wife's seal of approval.
It's on Lee Highway in a location that has seen several restaurants come and go. (This is a much bigger restaurant than its old location farther east, which was a real dump). Crab-starved NOVANs keep the place busy.
The menu is pretty much crabs, srimps, and beer.
Other than The Frog and the Redneck in Richmond great crab cakes do not exist south of D. C. and there is only one restuarant there that has a good one, The Prime Rib (a Baltimore import) on K St. Further north in Lanham is Jerry's Seafood and then you have to go to Baltimore or to Stony's off Route 4.
Loudon and Fairfax County? Consider that lump crab meat is $26/lb at Maine Ave. and $38 at Fresh Fields and you'll understand why they don't exist in these areas: people won't pay the price. Elsewhere the public knows that a great crab cake contains an excessive amount of lump crab and they'll pay it.
Bear this in mind when you see crab cakes on a restaurant menu and consider the price. By definition it must be expensive.
Hey...best crab cakes near DC that even come close to Baltimore, or the Eastern Shore of Maryland can be found at The Ashby Inn in Paris, Virginia. Other food good there too...kinda pricey, but worth the trip out there...past Middleburg off Route 50. I was lusting after the original artwork displayed throughout and also for sale when I was there. Beautiful trip through fall foliage this month and next!
Before anyone rushes to the Ashby Inn for the $32 crabcakes, let me offer this caveat:
These are NOT traditional crabcakes. They are basically just high-quality crabmeat barely bound together in a very mildly seasoned coating. No Old Bay or anything like that.
We went out to Paris (original name Pumpkinville, now how great is that?), pop. 47 (maybe it's 52), basically to try the cakes and while the quality of the crabmeat can't be argued, we were just a wee bit disappointed with the gestalt of the entire experience.
But, the drive is indeed very nice, the food overall is very good, and the Ashby Inn has great wine list. We had a delicious Fess Parker pinot noir. The label and cork both have little coonskin caps on them.
Ernie's Original Crab House on Route 1 in Alexandria has great crabs. Crab cakes are great too, although a bit pricey.