Top Ten Best Crab Cakes
Call me a coward, but in the interest of harmony, I'm going to give you three lists here. One is going to be Top Ten Best Crab Cakes, Readers Choice. The next will be Top Ten Best Crab Cakes, Recommendations Based on My Own Long-Term Experience and Other Sun Foodies'. These are the ones, apologies to Robert, I would try if my rich uncle came to town and was willing to pay while I took him around on a crab cake odyssey.
Finally, the list that may be the most useful to true crab cake aficionados who already know that Faidley's has great crab cakes and want to think outside the box: The Top Ten Best Crab Cakes I've Had in the Past Year.
Here we go: ...
(Jed Kirschbaum/Sun Photographer)
First the list made up from recent e-mails and the comments posted under The Dreaded Crab Cake Question. These are the ones that got the most votes, although honestly, most votes was sometimes only two or three, so take it with a grain of salt:
*By the Docks in Middle River
*Captain Larry's on Fort Avenue
*Costas Inn on Northpoint Boulevard
*Duda's Tavern in Fells Point
*Faidley's Seafood in the Lexington Market
*Gertrude's at the Baltimore Museum of Art
*G & M in Linthicum Heights
*Koco's Pub in Lauraville
*Olive Grove in Linthicum
*Timbuktu in Hanover
Commenter Ray in Virginia says he led a dining group on a series of visits to the Baltimore area last year to find the best crab cake. I love that idea. Here are the crab cakes I would compare -- and the reasons I chose them -- if I were seriously going to try to find the best:
*Duda's Tavern and Koco's Pub...because both keep coming up as having great moderately priced crab cakes, something Baltimore needs, with good press from the City Paper, The Sun's Happy Eater Rob Kasper, LIVE reviewer Karen Nitkin, and various online food sites.
*Faidley's...because these seem to be the one to beat.
*G & M...because even though its crab cakes have gotten mixed reviews since it changed hands (to put it mildly; see comments referenced above) so I would have been wary, Rob did get a pretty good cake from there when he carried out last month.
*Obrycki's...because we need to find a good crab cake downtown I can honestly recommend for the tourists who want an Old Baltimore-style crab house and don't want to travel to Essex for it.
*O'Leary's in Annapolis...because we need at least one place to try from Annapolis, and this is where I've had the best seafood.
*Pierpoint in Fells Point...because at one point chef/owner Nancy Longo's smoked crab cake was the most famous gourmet crab cake in the area.
*Canton's Dockside...because I've got to find a place on the water, in or near the harbor, that has an excellent crab cake. It's what people want. And I'm not comfortable suggesting a regional or national chain, otherwise I'd consider McCormick & Schmick's. Bo Brooks is another possibility, but I haven't heard much enthusiasm about it since I reviewed it seven years ago, and a couple of people have recommended Dockside's crab cakes.
*Prime Rib downtown...because I've always said, Don't ask what Baltimore's best seafood restaurant is, just go to our best restaurants that serve American cuisine and you'll get great seafood. Of course, you'll pay through the nose.
*Schultz's in Essex...because I love the atmosphere, and I've had good traditional Maryland seafood when I've eaten there.
Personal Best: the finest I've had in the last 12 months. I enjoyed the crab cakes at Faidley's when I was following the Zagats around for a story, but that was about 18 months ago. Here are the best I've had recently enough to count:
*Artscape. Yes, it surprised me too. And I can't even name the stand. But this falls in the category of good cheap crab cakes, something we need more of. It's easy to make a good crab cake when you're starting with jumbo lump and charging a fortune. (This even, surprisingly, had a few lumps.)
*Crackpot in Bel Air. The crab cakes were moderately priced (for lump crab cakes these days), had the right balance of meat and binder, and come in ten different varieties for those who like to experiment.
*Dogwood in Hampden. A fine lump crab cake. When I had it, it was part of a surf 'n surf with a small rockfish fillet and a lemon butter basil sauce, so it wasn't overwhelmingly large.
*Gertrude's at the BMA. I had the Tuesday $12 crab cake platter when I was doing a mini-review for the Dining Guide on Good Deals, and it was.
*Jack's Bistro in Canton. The crab cake is Jack's at its best -- imaginative (served with a horseradish aioli and grilled asparagus) but not imagination run amok.
*Micho's in Reisterstown. A tiny bit mushy, but generously full of crab and gently seasoned. Pairing it with a lobster tail was a very good idea, but it could stand on its own.
*Patrick's of Cockeysville. The nicely seasoned cake has so much jumbo lump and so little binder it needed the smooth hollandaise on the side. That's not a bad thing.
*Pierpoint. The smoked crab cakes are the signature dish, but I like the original just as much if not more.
*Robert Oliver Seafood. I've heard complaints about this restaurant since my generally positive review last February and I haven't been back since, so take that into consideration; but the crab cake was gold, fat with snowy lumps and delicious.
*Watertable. I could have used a little less of the bready filler, but the cake was huge, lump-filled and seasoned just the way I like a crab cake.