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The Happy Clam, reviewed
Are the crab cakes at The Happy Clam
Marie Sicola/The Free Lance-Star
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Date published: 9/27/2012
Lately I've had crabs on the brain--Chesapeake Bay blue crabs, to be exact, and crab cakes in particular. It all started when a reader suggested I do a survey-style piece on where to find the best crab cake in the area.
That'd be easy! Wouldn't it have to be in Maryland--at the state fair, where a Maryland seafood company recently claimed to have broken the world record for largest crab cake? The whopping 300-pounder used about 200 pounds of crabmeat, along with eggs, breading and seasoning.
Of course, I like mine with a little less filler, thank you! Besides, when it comes to crab cakes, bigger doesn't always mean better. The best crab cakes are more likely to be the ones made with the freshest jumbo lump available, a squeeze of lemon, a dab of mayo and a chef's prayer to hold it all together.
I was thinking about crabs while walking downtown recently, past the former site of Barefoot Green's, now The Happy Clam. So I stopped in for lunch and ordered the crab cake platter with potato salad and hush puppies ($10.95), along with a slice of homemade coconut cake ($4.95) for dessert.
Everything was fine, but it was the crab cake, a medium-size mound that had been fried to a uniform golden brown and bore an uncanny resemblance to a Krispy Kreme custard-filled doughnut, that caught my eye. Its appearance not exactly filling me with confidence, I didn't have high hopes. But oh my! That first taste was so sublime it took my breath away. It was everything I look for in a crab cake and nothing extra. In fact, it'd easier to describe what it didn't have: a lot of filler, or any obvious seasoning or deep-fried taste. Nothing but warm, moist, fresh, sweet, succulent crab--and all encased in a crisp yet delicate layer of breading that I mistook for cornmeal but was in fact cracker meal.
What: The Happy Clam Address: 1017 Sophia St. (former site of Barefoot Green's) Info: 540/899-0140; thehappyclamfred.com Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday Prices:
Dinner entrees: $16.95-$25.95
Children's menu: $5.95-$7.95
Beer and wine are available.The Scoop: Family-friendly, good food, moderate prices, friendly service, down-home desserts, parking Payment: Major credit cards accepted