901 Fairview Ave. N
Seattle WA 98109
A True Crab Lover's Heaven
By: Steve G
As you enter the door of Chandler's Crab, you're treated a very classy place. Located right on the coast of South Lake Union, its a given that Chandler's Crab has a breathtaking view of the water.
Personally, I feel that the best seats in the house belong to those in what could only be described as a sun pavilion. Tons of windows that are lit up by rays of the sun, coupled with the calm blue waters on a sunny spring day, it was something to behold. As we sat down in our booth that seemed designed for really tall people with short legs (my legs started cramping halfway through the meal), I picked up the menu and got ready for a quiet and relaxing meal.
$35.95 for an appetizer!?- Thats the remark that broke up the quiet mood of Chandler's Crab. The item in question is the King Crab Bites ($35.95) which is described on the menu as being one pound of bite size crab, chilled on ice with three different dipping sauces to go with it. Every fiber in my being told me that this was not going to be worth it. Doing the math that comes out to $2.19 per ounce of crab. Just from a logical standpoint it didn't seem like the most economical thing to do. But still we did order it just to find out what all the fuss is about. Once the large chilled bowl arrived at our table, I was a little skeptical that it would convince me of dropping this amount of money on an appetizer.
Surprisingly, it did.
The full pound of chilled King Crab served on ice was sweet, juicy and utterly fabulous. The crab legs were chopped into smaller, more manageable pieces, making it wipe away any reservations I had about the price. In fact, if you're like me and hate the fuss of having to spend so much time and effort cracking shells to get to little morsels of meat you should definitely order this. Each piece of crab fell out with the greatest of ease. Leaving us with the only problem of choosing which dipping sauce to use: Cocktail, Horseradish, or Light Aioli. Grant and I split this so called appetizer though it could have easily been a entree on its own. As a result, we were stuffed before the main entrees in got to our table.
I went with the East Coast, West Coast Crab Cakes ($23.95) even though they sounded more like a rivalry of sorts to compete for who was king of crab cakes. It was a little confusing trying to figure out which crab cake went with which coast, but I left it up to the friendly server to sort out the confusion. The answer was less enlightening than I hoped. Pointing at the left side of the plate, he said "I guess this is the west coast crab cake". And vice versa for the east coast crab cake. The east coast crab cake looked like the traditional crab cake you find at most places, deep fried and breaded also known as the Boardwalk style of crab cake. The west coast crab cake was composed mainly of crab meat with no breading. This style is also called restaurant style.
Grant ordered the Dungeness Crab ($27.95) with another half crab served with roasted fennel orzo, grilled asparagus and cooked in wonderful mix of herbs, garlic and butter. Just like the king crab bites, each morsel of crab meat was juicy and tender. Each crab was dripping in the butter mixed with herbs and garlic and it so good that Grant even dared me to lick some off of the shell.
The service is best described as exemplary service with a smile. Our waiter was very gracious and informative, giving us a few of his own recommendations along the way. Extra napkins were brought quickly on request and shell buckets were removed and replaced in almost clockwork fashion.
Overall, Chandler's Crab is not cheap in any literal sense, but the great food coupled with good service and wonderful ambiance will make it great, though slightly messy, experience. Some might complain that Chandler's Crab lacks any original creativity, but if something is really good why bother changing it up?