Baltimore Stories and Tips

My Homegrown Restaurant Rating System

It would be very pretentious of me to pretend to be a restaurant critic. I’m just a person who likes crabs. It would also be pretentious of me to pretend to be a native. I’ve only lived here for 25 years. So I’ve decided to award claws (crab claws of course) for my ratings, with five claws being practically perfect and one claw being pretty poor. I’ve picked the following categories to evaluate:

TASTE: The crab mustn’t have any "fishy" taste at all. It should taste sweet, mild and fresh.

ABSENCE OF SHELL: Well-picked crabmeat is vital. Bits of shell are nasty and unpleasant.

SIZE OF LUMPS: Good backfin or lump crabmeat conveys the best crab flavor, and mixing it with the seasonings and binders without breaking it up too much is a real test of culinary artistry.

SEASONING: Subtle, subtle, subtle. You want to taste that lovely crab. As far as Cajun blackened crabcakes, or other seasoning oddities – well, we won’t even go there, Hon.

ACCOMPANIMENTS: French fries, coleslaw, green salad, potato salad. Take your pick, but you probably won’t have room for much. Beer? Absolutely.

KINDLINESS OF WAIT STAFF: Kindliness sums it up better than efficiency, I believe. The people taking care of you should be ready to discuss whether the crab looks good that day or if maybe you should go with something else. They need to remember to bring you some red cocktail sauce (prepared on the premises, of course), to be sure you have a few saltines to go with your meal, and to keep your beer replenished—or your iced tea if you have to go back to work.

ATMOSPHERE: Not very important unless you’re visiting or trying to impress someone.

All of my crabcakes were broiled and served as "crabcake sandwiches," which basically means that you get saltines with the crabcake and probably only one vegetable. I awarded selective claws for restaurants where we didn't dine on crabcakes.

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