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The Crab Claw

Route 33 West, St. Michaels, MD - (410) 745-2900
Posted By Michael Stern on February 5, 2001 4:35 AM
With its roots in a mid-century wholesale crab business by the water, The Crab Claw restaurant has evolved into one of the premier places to indulge in Maryland hot blue crabs and cold beer. Spiced crabs are the dish to eat along the eastern shore. At The Crab Claw, you can buy them one by one or, better yet, as a crab feast. A crab feast means that heaps of cooked crabs are dumped onto your table and you go after their pearl white spiced meat armed with pick and mallet, piles of napkins, and pitchers of beer.

Perched high on a pier overlooking the Miles River, The Crab Claw clatters with the sounds of hammering, cracking and slurping that are a crab feast's happy tune. Although instructions are provided telling exactly how to extract meat from a cooked hard-shelled crab, it can be hard work to get those big, silky hunks of sweet spiced meat that veteran crab feasters manage to extricate with aplomb. Ourselves, we are all thumbs when it comes to crab-eating, and too often seem to be able to salvage only strings and shreds of meat from even the largest crabs. That is why we frequently forgo crab feasts at the Crab Claw and indulge in crab cakes, soft-shell crabs, crab claws, crab soup, and crab cocktail. At one point many years ago, we actually ordered (but failed to fully excavate) a deep-fried hard-shelled crab, which was the strangest-looking critter: a whole crab, in its shell, blanketed with batter and fried until golden brown, then served with a knife and a mallet. The idea was to pick some of the batter off the exterior, then crack the shell and retrieve the meat inside. It was an adventure!

Oysters, clams, shrimp, and scallops are also available on The Crab Claw menu, as are filet mignon and chicken for crustacean-frowners. You can buy crabs by the dozen, to go, for a picnic; and you can arrive by boat and tie up at the nearby dock.
5 star rating
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Posted By Susan Cohen on September 23, 2014 3:32 PM
Although I make great crab cakes when my brother comes back for a visit, he wants to eat crab at the shore, so we go to Cantler's Riverside Inn. I get a fried soft-shell crab sandwich and he gets a crab cake or two. On this trip we decided to go to St. Michaels and eat at The Crab Claw. I had the soft-shell crab sandwich and it was the worst I've had. A tiny crab on a slice of white bread. No flavor just a mushy crab on mushy bread. As to my brother's crab cake, meh!
1 star rating
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Lump Crab Cake Sandwich
Soft-shelled crab sandwich

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Posted By Ira Henkin on November 20, 2012 11:17 PM
A disappointment. Everything was much as the previous three reviewers described it. The food was bland, did not have a fresh, local taste, service was lackluster, and there was more emphasis on the credit card issue than on service. I spend a fair amount of time in the area and know good from mediocre. This was mediocre.
1 star rating
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Posted By Tommy Saunders on June 7, 2008 12:41 PM
The Crab Claw is one of my favorite places, and has been for years. But, like anywhere else, you have to know what to order and when.

I am a big fan of their steamed crabs but, like everywhere else, they have become pricey. If I want a quick meal, the fried shrimp are terrific: plump and nicely fried. I think the crab imperial is the best around. It is loaded with crabmeat and the imperial sauce is not overly rich, as it can be at many restaurants. They have lobster and crab leg specials during the week that are good bargains as well.

The meals are served with a good side salad; I like their very sweet coleslaw too. Ask them if they made their chocolate muffins (sometimes they come in the bread basket) and save them for a small dessert.

They have an ATM if you need cash, plus they will gladly take a personal check. Not as convenient as credit, to be sure, but not unmanageable either.
3 star rating
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Posted By Mark Hacala on March 13, 2008 2:49 PM
A huge disappointment. The crab cakes are more boring, and have more filler, than any I have ever had in Maryland. And at $21 for two (8/07), they are horrifically overpriced for what they are.

We have not had the steamed crabs, but nothing that we did have tasted fresh. Surprisingly, in an area surrounded by farms and fresh produce, virtually everything seems like prepackaged institutional food: Kraft tartar sauce packets, green beans and apple sauce that taste canned, vegetables that taste packaged.

We had a friendly waitress, who informed us at the end of the meal that the Crab Claw doesn't accept credit cards. That isn't posted clearly as you enter, though. The restaurant seems to me to be more interested in making money than in serving good food.

Recommendation: eat at the Crab & Steak instead!
1 star rating
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Posted By Val Budd on December 10, 2007 7:13 PM
Four of us ordered. The only palatable meal were the crab claws my son ordered. My other son said the fried clams were good but not great. I made the mistake of ordering the Fisherman Platter. That usually means fried food. The waitress guided me this way because I was looking for both a crab cake and soft-shelled crabs. The crab cake was marginal, the fried fish was way overcooked, the soft-shelled crab was burnt and had been chiseled out of the pan. My wife's broiled flounder was salty and also overcooked. Red Lobster or Mrs. Paul's would have been much better.

To top it off, at the end of the meal we were informed that they do not take credit cards, not mentioned anywhere. The excuse by the waitress was that the "B" team was cooking on this very busy Friday night since the "A" team was at a softball tournemant. Too bad they didn't just shut down for a couple of days.

If you choose to go here stick with the steamed crab.
1 star rating
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