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tell me...WHAT is wrong with the Barking Crab?

My sister apparently ate there last summer. and she is DYING to eat there this summer as well when she visits. I am curious as I can not remember how long ago it was that I ate there.

What exactly is wrong with the place? and when did you have this experience? I always read the complaints but not sure WHAT they are (aside from the guys who discovered the kitchen closed early) . I am going to have to go there. what should I be warned about? and maybe I can convince her otherwise....

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  1. I ate there last summer. It was fine. Nothing amazing but perfectly serviceable, and my Alabama-based relatives loved it. I had the crabcake which was OK. Most of my family went for cleams - steamers and fried and they devoured them. My one complaint is that the place is loud, but that's no surprise. The out-of-towners raved about the setting, which is why I brought them there, so that worked out fine.

    1. Oh please don't open this can of worms again. Some people hate this place, others like it. There are many posts on the cleanliness, the touristiness, etc. already. My own experience is that it's been quite useful for a beverage after the ICA, but if I want to eat in the neighborhood I'll usually head to Sel de la Terre.

      1. The place is a dump and the owner is a jerk. I used to live on Sleeper Street and the first time I checked out the crab, the bartender pointed to the owner and told me that he lived in my building. I introduced myself and told him we were new neighbors, and he looked at me like, "So what?" You really need to lower your expectations when you go there. Many people recommend this place when posters are looking for water views, wrong!!! There's no view. It's dingy, dirty and downright divey, and it's in the middle of no -man's land. I also think the food sucks.

        4 Replies
        1. re: PJ Mac BJ

          The only time I ever went there was with my son for lunch 2 summers ago when he was working across the street; he only had an hour for lunch and after being seated fairly quickly and ordering our lunch, we waited for about 45 minutes with no food while others who were seated after us received their food. Realizing he was going to be late, we told them that we could no longer wait and I got him a lobster roll at Hooks. Maybe it was a good thing that we didn't eat there but I later wrote a letter to the owner with my complaints and predictably, he never responded. I will never be back.

          1. re: PJ Mac BJ

            I'd agree w/ the lack of a waterview...it's a tiny channel surrounded by big buildings. People just think it's cute to eat "on the water"...

            1. re: Spike

              I definitely wouldn't consider it a foodie destination but understand the appeal...drinking pitchers of beer on a barge in the harbor on a hot summer night is festive and fun. That being said, I made the mistake of being somewhat adventurous the first time i ordered food there... their steamed mussels and crab legs, ugh never again.. just stick to the fried stuff...

            2. re: PJ Mac BJ

              The only way you get a halfway decent view there is if you get a table right at the water's edge. Otherwise, you look out at the underside of the bridges and piers within low trajectory eyesight.

            3. I don't like the place and steer visitors away from it: mediocre to bad food and an unusually dirty room even by the standards of dumps. If I want a beer in the neighborhood, I'll find other options.

              1. I was surprised by the strong opinions posted about this place. I've been there three time this year and on each visit the food was good to very good. Some out of town guests relished the freshness of the fish. I had the crab cakes and they were just so so. The ambience is so at odds of what someone expects in Boston, that it might put some people off. It's just so different that it is some for some people it is a destination, as in you're sister's case. You will treat her to a good time, I hope. Just use the bathrooms across the street at the Daily Catch.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ghostcat

                  Just do not eat at THAT Daily Catch....

                  Pretty please!

                  1. re: TomH

                    I was at the Barking Crab this week for the first time in a year or two. I WUZ ROBBED. This used to be a fun place where you could get a beer and some fish and chips. Now you pay NINETEEN dollars for a slab of haddock (OK, delicious) on a paper plate and not even a pickle or a bit of cole slaw with it. All ala carte. Sorry, but I will not pay $9 for a plate of asparagus at a lobster shack. The prices and menu are way out of line. When I complained, our waiter actually admitted they might switch back to their old menu.

                2. Interesting that you asked..a place like barking crab is easy to hate esp if you're a foodie or local because its so touristy. ive pretty much only gone there with visitors - they loved it ! But as i went more and more, my bf and i actually started to like the food there. i really like the lobster salad, the crab cake, steamed lobsters, fish and chips, clam chowder...

                  when my cousins came to visit a few months ago, i posted a question asking where else i could take them besides barking crab. i actually didnt get that many good recommendations. most of them were places were way too casual and also only had a few of things we wanted from barking crab. they either didnt have steamers, or didnt have crab....

                    1. re: CocoDan

                      Will second this observation, with all the problems that entails.

                      And I'm no food snob, either.

                    2. I've been a few times and I've always had a bad experience. The food was never good. It's always messy, which I can't really handle. I know that sort of place is not supposed to be clean per se, and that's ok, but when it's absolutely disgusting, like Barking Crab was, I can't get past it. The service was rude (again, I'm not expecting 4 star service, but when you're just downright rude, that's a problem). I would never recommend it and it in fact is on my ban list when referring restaurants to people. It's just a shame that there aren't really any good no frills seafood shack type restaurants, by the water in Boston.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: BackBayGirl

                        "It's just a shame that there aren't really any good no frills seafood shack type restaurants, by the water in Boston."

                        It really is. I get a kick out of the fact that some people recommend places like the Barking Crab when out-of-towners are looking for a water view. It's also a shame that we have to drive to places like The Beachcomber in Wellfleet to find a great seafood shack on the water.

                        1. re: PJ Mac BJ

                          This is my on going rant. Why with such a beautiful harbor does Boston have crappy dining on the waterfront. I seriously hope the Fan Pier project corrects this, but I'm afraid the price points will be high.

                          Though I would not recommend eating at Anthony's Pier 4, they still have a stellar view from the bar.

                          1. re: kate used to be 50

                            The new hotel and condo complex at Battery Wharf will have a restaurant fro 3 star Michelin chef..Guy Martin..street side..not waterfront.

                            I like Sail Loft for casual pub food..their fried clams/scallops aren't bad. Avoid any tuna..or more ambitious sounding dishes.

                            A little more upscale...the outdoor cafe at Rowes Wharf Hotel.

                            I've had very good prime rib at Chart House..the last 2 Xmas eves.

                            There was some talk last year of a restaurant called Docks at the end of Long Wharf..may be opening this summer..great spot; if it happens.

                            1. re: 9lives

                              I second the Sail Loft for well-prepared, not overpriced seafood with a view. I go here a lot. It's not fancy, but it's a decent meal.

                              1. re: 9lives

                                guy martin lost his 3rd star this year at le grand vefour

                        2. The Barking Crab is fun for a crowded frat party atmosphere in which to have an overpriced, often lukewarm beer - after wading to the bar and waiting a long time to catch the attention of the lame servers. It is NOT a place to eat for all of the reasons noted here - not so clean, doesn't taste good, high prices, and below average to awful service- consistently - the only worse options I can think of are the Daily Catch across the street (they are hostile to customers if they even notice you) or Tias.

                          Head to the Rowes Wharf bar inside or on the patio (after waiting or having made reservations), pay a (little) bit more, but thoroughly enjoy yourself - especially when they have the live music and dancingduring the summer. I agree that the Sail Loft is a superior option for a dive atmosphere on the water, and Joe's is an OK place with great views from some tables.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: rlh

                            the intercontinental hotel has a gorgeous patio outside miel and the rumba room.

                            the health code violations at the crab have been severe enough for several day shut-downs, more than once. that's a permanent pass for me.

                            i'll give a nod to steamed lobster and white burgundy at anthony's. the view is killer, the wine list very good and at the bar you get, like, wispride cheese spread with ritz crackers!

                          2. It's all about expectations. It's not the best food or the best value, but I have a soft spot for it as it's one of the only places I can kayak to and eat -- it has docks and doesn't mind a patron in a wet suit, lol.