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Jun 3, 2009 08:05 AM

Back Forty - Crab Boil (A Disappointing Experience)

My GF and I went last night for the season's first crab boil at Back Forty and were pretty disappointed and underwhelmed with the quality of the crabs. While the price tag was right ($40), the preparation and flavor of the crabs wasn't very good - having grown up in Baltimore, picking crabs is a summer tradition which led me to have high hopes. Not the case as the crabs were extremely overcooked (except for 1 batch) to the point of being mushy and the seasoning was fairly limited. Furthermore, the crabs were on the tiny side.

Glad we went for the experience but will not be going back anytime soon.

Not sure how the crabs are at the Hideaway in Tribeca but will try over the next few weeks and report back.

Do any others have suggestions/feedback?

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  1. I was there too. Very small crabs. I also found it a little weird that the sides were green beans and whole potatoes. Hard to eat these without any utensils! On the bright side the strawberry rhubarb dessert was good. Probably because we were still so hungry! Nice service, though.

    7 Replies
    1. re: LBNJNY

      Were your crabs mushy like ours? I know it isn't very difficult to steam crabs so just wondering if that is their style, if so, they should consider spending some time on MD's eastern shore to better understand the spicing and technique.

      Green beans and potatoes were well seasoned but not accustomed to eating w/ my hands (though that didn't stop me from indulging).

      1. re: bss25

        Most of ours were not mushy - just couldn't find much meat. Also, I agree that the crabs did not have enough spice. My friend who's from VA always served the crabs with a side of vinegar with old bay mixed in to dip. Maybe they could just use something like that!

        I liked the beans and potatoes from a flavor standpoint and they were cooked properly (unlike your crabs!).

        1. re: LBNJNY

          We did the 9 p.m. seating - were you at the 7 p.m. one?

            1. re: LBNJNY

              Crab season is really just beginning. I was down on the eastern shore this past weekend, and we had to get some XL's to get decent picking. Most people won't really eat crabs in MD until the first week of June, and even then crabs are still on the small side seeing as they have recently molted (hence the soft shell crabs you might have eaten recently).
              That said I am looking for some places for crab. I've heard tales of a place in Brooklyn doing AYCE boils, but not sure where.
              Think I might just take it upon myself to organize one instead of risking it at Back Forty.

              1. re: UWSEater

                >Most people won't really eat crabs in MD until the first week of June

                As a Baltimorian who frequents this board because I am in your town alot I can tell you this is not true, in fact I eat crabs pretty much year 'round. The best crabs I have found in NYC are at Mara's Homemade, later in the summer they get them from Long Island Sound which is full of blue crabs, you can get them steamed Maryland style (which I recommend, they went to Kent Island, Maryland, specifically Harris Crabhouse to learn how) or boiled New Orleans style which IMO boiling crabs produces mushy meat.

                1. re: hon

                  I agree that the season is early but not an acceptable excuse for serving poor crab - if the crab isn't good, don't do a crab boil. I would assume this is a pretty simple concept but maybe not. Also, I think one of the other big issues is that they boil the crab vs. steaming MD style - this coupled with molting could create the outcome from last night.

                  Hon - spot on assessment - while there is no time like summer time in Baltimore to eat crabs on the deck with a cold beer, there are plenty of places to get them year round.

                  As for Back Forty, first time there but really enjoy Savoy (their sister restaurant in SoHo) which has been pretty stellar on numerous occasions.

    2. Thanks all, for these reports. I was planning on hitting Back Forty's crab boil when we came to NYC but now it looks like Mara's or Hideaway might be a better bet.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PegS

        Right now Maras has Louisianna Blue Crabs on it's website as todays special, the reason I mentioned Long Island Crabs for later in the season is that they were really big and meaty.

      2. I've always been underwhelmed w/Back Forty's food, so these negative comments don't surprise me. More reason not to return.

        1. planning on hitting the hideaway on a sunday or monday night coming up for their crab nights. please post a review if you get their first!