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Jun 4, 2012 11:13 AM

Business Dinner with Maryland blue crab?

I just moved from DC (boo) but am coming back for business (yay!). I need to plan a business dinner for 5, including one very demanding person. Since we are in DC, he believes we should have some "Chesapeake bay blue crabs" as his family lived in Maryland in the 1800s. (note: he is generally demanding, not just on this issue, which makes this all the more annoying!)

I called DC Coast and they have soft shell crab on the menu, and Elisir has an entree with soft shell crab. Any other thoughts for how I can please this person? I need a reasonably formal restaurant, but not too over the top. For example, Brasserie Beck is too casual, Marcel's is too formal.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. Did he specify soft shell crabs? Because eating hard-shelled crabs is a very messy proposition and not the kind of thing you would do for a business dinner, unless you work in a very relaxed, cool, together company where people enjoy letting their hair down and hanging out with one another.

    No restaurant with hard shelled crabs is going to be reasonably formal. They are going to have picnic tables covered with brown paper and wooden mallets and pitchers of beer.

    I gather you want to be downtown? Have you considered crab cakes as opposed to soft shells? I ask because a whole lot of people are very squeamish about eating soft shell crabs which kind of look like fried giant spiders.

    1. Nam Viet? It's a different take on soft shells, though.

      1. Crabcakes! Made from blue crabs, but free of the crab pickin' mess...

        Maybe someone can suggest a place with good ones.

        1. The Prime Rib in Baltimore is part of the True Blue program meaning they only use Maryland blue crab in their dishes. They serve some of the best jumbo lump crab cakes, Imperial crab and soft shells that you will ever have. If this place doesn't satisfy your demanding companion I can't help him.

          6 Replies
          1. re: CDouglas

            But it is in Baltimore - an hour or so drive from DC. OP doesn't say where in DC they will be or if they will have a car. Wherever they go, he/she really ought to call ahead to be sure they will have crab cakes on that particular evening and set some aside for his group.

            I'm not one to recommend Kinkead's as I think it is overpriced, but in Feb.2012, the Washington Post put his crabcake on the best list. Description: Bob Kinkead knows how to make a crab cake: Never deep-fried, the meat is mixed with mayonnaise and seasoned with celery, tarragon, lemon and just a pinch of bread crumbs to hold it together. A rich mustard creme fraiche sauce and fresh corn relish pairs nicely with the sweet meat.

            Now to me that isn't the way a crabcake should be made, but not everyone is a purist. I guess it depends how long you've lived here and how many phenomenal nothing-but-backfin-and-eggwhite crab bombs (Jerry's Seafood) you've had. DC Coast also got the nod: Minimalism is the watchword of this crab cake. The recipe calls for Gulf of Mexico crab with just a pinch of bread crumbs, a little mayonnaise, mustard, egg, lemon and chives, and a dash of Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper for a tickle of heat. The crab is all jumbo lump, but the cakes hold together thanks to a nice, crisp exterior.

              1. re: Hue

                The Lanham location is not a good idea. It is very small and they don't take reservations and there is no place to wait inside. You end up standing in a dreary parking lot in a dreary little strip shopping center.

                The Bowie location is very attractive, lots of tables, plenty of space to wait inside. The crab bombs are incredible and all the food is always very fresh and good.

                However, if they don't have a car, no way to get there.

                1. re: Just Visiting

                  For a business dinner with fellow coworkers I would pick a place in DC proper either DC Coast, or Prime Rib. In order to get hard shell crabs your going to have to visit a crab house which is much too casual given your desription above.

              2. re: Just Visiting

                There is a Prime Rib Restaurant in D.C. I agree with CDouglas that the restaurant has fabulous Imperial Crab, softshells and crabcakes. FoiGras

                1. re: Just Visiting

                  Here is a listing of participants in the True Blue program updated on June 1:

                  I mentioned the Baltimore location of The Prime Rib because it made the list while the DC shop did not for some reason. Currently there are more participating locations in Maryland and Virginia than in DC.

              3. My guess is that what he means is local seafood, including crabs. As other posters have indicated, you are probably better off with a place that serves nice crab cakes. Some good spots- in particular since it is on someone elses dime and (I'm assuming here) a bit of a history buff maybe 1789? Also since it is on someone elses wallet, Kinkaids which is no bargain but has great local seafood in a white tablecloth setting. Other places would be a private room at Blacksalt or Old Ebbitt (don't hold your nose, those who are snobs!) depending on where you are staying.