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The Good, Back Eddy; and the Bad, Barking Crab

p
paulgardner Aug 13, 2006 03:00 PM

First the good: had an excellent dinner and a gorgeous sunset at the Back Eddy in Westport last night. The highlights were the appetizers. My wife and I shared one of the best chowders I have ever had (clam and corn); it had a very nice smokey flavor and had no thickener in it, excellent. Also delicious were the stuffed clams, hardly any breading and stuffed with clams, choriuzo sausage(sp?), scallion, etc. We then shared fish and chips, the fish was very good though a tad overcooked and the fries were excellent. If you go, go early and get a table outside for the great sunset.

Now the bad: My son is working for the summer nearby Northern Avenue in Boston. I met him for lunch on Friday and we walked over to the Barking Crab for lunch. We arrived and were the first ones seated at our long picnic table outside at about 1:20. Shorthly thereafter the waitress took our order. Subsequently, a party of four and a party of two were seated at our table. We waited about 1/2 hour and when both the party of four and the party of two received their food, we asked the waitress why we hadn't received our food. The waitress, very defensively, said that it wasn't her fault, that there was nothing she could do about it and that "...apparently there was a mix up in the kitchen." We waited a few more minutes, a few more orders came out...but not ours. We then told the hostess we had to leave as it was 2 pm and my son had to get back to work. The good news is that I got my son a lobster roll at James Hook to take back to work.

I e-mailed the General Manager of The Barking Crab to tell he/she about our experience...WHAT A SURPRISE...NO RESPONSE.

  1. Bob Dobalina Aug 13, 2006 03:50 PM

    The Back Eddy is a great location - the food is fairly consistent, if a little expensive. The setting makes it all the worthwhile. I believe it used to be affiliated with the East Coast Grill folks, but no longer.

    One more reason to avoid the Barking Crab - I still remember how it was closed a few years ago because of some sort of elevated bacteria in their food, or somesuch code violation.

    Why is it that common sense seems to elude these folks time and again?

    1. c
      chef poncho Aug 13, 2006 04:08 PM

      I think they got closed because of a sewer line back up that was contaminating their lobsters. Hell, it probably was an improvement in the flavor of their food. That place lives on the virtues of it's simple view.

      1. MC Slim JB Aug 13, 2006 06:00 PM

        These two experiences mirror my own. Back Eddy is a little pricey, but the food is superb, and the view is just lovely. And they serve 'Gansett!

        The Barking Crab could have been worse: it might have a) actually served you their food; or b) responded to your complaint and given you a gift certificate, tempting you to go back and try again. I always try to dissuade people from that place: I think it's just hateful.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MC Slim JB
          n
          Northender Aug 14, 2006 02:44 PM

          Last time I was there (about 3 weeks ago) they had Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap for a large $3.00 draft! The food - fresh fish and chips (the fish was lightly fried and tasted like it just came off the boat)- and the view on the back deck were pretty damn good too! (lol).

        2. h
          HeelsSoxHound Aug 13, 2006 10:27 PM

          Don't forget, the Back Eddy is a Chris Schlesinger restaurant; he of East Coast Grill fame. That dude's kitchens couldn't put out bad food if they tried. (well, they might, but at the risk of invoking the wrath of El Jefe Loco.) Barking Crab was indeed closed because of a sewer backup... and they were bad before that. the service has always been horrid, and the food isn't much better. The Eddy's a bit of a drive, though... when i'm craving that food, I stick to the ECG.

          2 Replies
          1. re: HeelsSoxHound
            w
            Wineack Aug 13, 2006 10:55 PM

            Chris sold the restaurant some time ago. He no longer has any connection to Back Eddy.

            1. re: Wineack
              h
              HeelsSoxHound Aug 14, 2006 12:43 PM

              shows how long it's been since i've been on the scene in boston. my apologies... still good though.
              he's still got ecg, right?

          2. Kip McSkipster Aug 14, 2006 12:27 AM

            I used to like The Barking Crab, but I also had a bad meal there recently. I was just doing a takeout clam plate. The staff there - by and large - couldn't be less interested or helpful. The clams were greasy and small, and it was a small portion (not that I wanted any more!).

            1. k
              kosimpson Aug 14, 2006 01:05 AM

              The Barking Crab is one of my favorite places, and I have to say I'm surprised at the bad reviews. My husband and I eat here at least a 1/2 dozen times a year and have always had great food. We did have one really bad server once but after my husband, very mildly, complained we were comp'ed the entire meal. I do prefer this place in the winter much more than the summer. They are very busy in the summer and I think the food does suffer a little. Try them on a cold winter's day and enjoy the very good chowder by the wood stove.

              1. rlh Aug 14, 2006 02:09 AM

                I have to join the chorus of Barking Crab-haters -- while I enjoy the off-season Happy Hour there (mobs and lineups are much too much during the summer with other options available), the food was never great, and this year it seems the quality and serving sizes have declined while the prices have increased -- not my kind of trend at all. I now always head elsewhere for dinner (or lunch, for that matter).

                1 Reply
                1. re: rlh
                  b
                  blackcoffee Aug 14, 2006 06:07 AM

                  I've had good service and food the 3-4x I have been there.

                2. Dax Aug 14, 2006 03:09 PM

                  From how I hear it, the Crab was shut down once because it turns out their filtration system which continuously feeds the live seafood tanks, was drawing in water from the Harbor (legally) but the intake was located too close to an illegal dumping tube/site that the City of Boston was allowing to exist. I just always hear people bad-mouthing the place based on word of mouth about the health department shutting it down, but when questioned further, no one seems to realy know the truth behind such rumors. Anyone know for sure?

                  1. b
                    Blumie Aug 14, 2006 03:51 PM

                    The particulars of the Barking Crab situation aren't that important to me. Even the best of restaurants can have health code issues and, in extreme cases, be temporarily closed. Looking at this from the flip side, perhaps the BEST time to visit a place like this is AFTER the health department has been up the a** of a restaurant, as it's likely to be sparkling.

                    All of that said, what is important to me is that the food at the Barking Crab is not all that great. That's what keeps me away, not the fact that they were temporarily shut down.

                    1. 9
                      9lives Aug 14, 2006 04:00 PM

                      My recollection is similar to yours. I also remember some other political element to the story.

                      I don't really see as to how it should have any effect on whether or not someone likes the restaurant today.

                      I think it's a fun place to go; especially with out of towners..food is inconsistent.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: 9lives
                        d
                        DoubleMan Aug 14, 2006 04:05 PM

                        Food is inconsistent in that sometimes it is bad and other times it is very bad.

                        1. re: DoubleMan
                          Dax Aug 14, 2006 05:59 PM

                          It depends what you get. I've never had any problems getting simple fried fish and chips, clam chowder and the fried calamari. It is however expensive for what you get. But it's not a bad place to spend a weekend day drinking a few beers, listening to music on the deck, and maybe eating some calamari or some fish and chips. Will it wow you for the food? Certainly not. But it's a fun experience to me (and visitors I have taken there).

                      2. p
                        paulgardner Aug 14, 2006 06:11 PM

                        Regardless of whether the food is good or bad; and I don't care that they were shut down by the Board of Health several years ago (I was aware of that so I went at my own risk); there still was no excuse for the poor, inattentive service and further, when the GM was informed of the problem, he never replied or addressed it.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: paulgardner
                          Dax Aug 14, 2006 06:27 PM

                          Oh I agree Paul, no response is not a good sign. Did you email the GM Friday after lunch or did the email go out later? Maybe they haven't read the email yet.

                        2. p
                          paulgardner Aug 14, 2006 06:35 PM

                          I e-mailed him on Friday afternoon, perhaps I should give them the benefit of the doubt...maybe they haven't read it yet.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: paulgardner
                            c
                            chef poncho Aug 15, 2006 03:34 AM

                            Sorry, but I don't have another benefit in my bag of doubt for this place. It bums me out because this is usually my kind of place. But, I've been to it 6 times and have had 6 bad dining turns.

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