The red neon sign at the corner of Park Avenue South and 19th St beckons me every time I drive by it in a taxi. I gave City Crab & Seafood Company a try last night, mainly because my ten-year-old son is fond of very few foods, but crab happens to be one of them.
The space, on three levels, is massive — outfitted like an upscale beach town fish joint. Both Ruth Reichl and Eric Asimov reviewed it for the Times, and both of them said that it is loud when crowded. It was decidedly not crowded last night, although Boxing Day is probably atypical for a restaurant that caters to a business lunch crowd. We were seated at a high-top table with bar stool chairs, which was comfortable enough, but a curious choice given the many other empty tables.
City Crab is one of those places that offers every seafood entrée grilled, broiled, sauteed, fried, or blackened. I chose the blackened scallops, since I’d never had scallops that way before. I wasn’t disappointed to receive five good-sized scallops (plus rice pilaf and cole slaw) for just $19.99. The heat of the cajun spices pretty much defined the dish, but I expected that.
I foolishly allowed my son to be upsold on the crab legs. They were $29.99 a pound, which the server said was just three legs. “Most people get a pound and a half,” he said. So we ordered that much, which turned out to be a massive, $45 portion. Even my son, who is not especially price conscious, recognized the wretched excess. He could have had a new video game for that amount. The struggle to prize the meat from the claws eventually wore him out. Even the typical adult probably wouldn’t have finished.
The bread service was better than many higher-end restaurants, and I was especially impressed with the dessert menu. It was printed with the current date, and there was a named pastry chef, which I wouldn’t have expected at this type of restaurant. My son particularly liked the oreo ice cream cake, which was perhaps the most impressive thing that we tried.
Service was generally attentive until, most curiously, after we’d received our dessert. Finding our waiter to request a check proved to be a challenge, and we had a movie to catch. Thanks mainly to that ridiculous crab order, dinner for two was $80 before tax and tip.
City Crab & Seafood Company (235 Park Avenue South at 19th Street, Gramercy)