Imagine sweet tender fleshy crab meat freshly plucked from the ocean, and then steamed, stuffed, and swaddled between a buttery toasted brioche bun. Sounds yum-o-licious doesn't it?
Nettie's Crab Shack in San Francisco is one of my latest discoveries of good casual dining spots in the bay area. It's a down-to-earth, laid-back locale with a touch of New England charm. When you arrive, directions are posted on the chalk board: 1) choose a table, 2) order at the bar, and 3) we'll bring the food.
Aside from the written guide, the sunny, rustic and austere ambiance readily invites guests to pull up a chair, and if they please, put their feet up. Diners even serve themselves complimentary water, sparkling or flat, which is provided in a what looks like an antique miniature bath tub. I love how the legs have rusted showing signs of age.
While visiting, I had an opportunity to meet the group of maverick crabbers who brought in this season's exceptionally sweet fresh crab meat for the day. Isn't it neat? They almost look like fixtures within the place. How was crab season? It was one of the most exceptional in years.
Even though there were several item enticing items on the menu, we came for the dungeness crab, which in addition to the crabbers' report, everyone in town was also buzzing about how sweet and meaty the catch was this year. So we ordered the dungeness crab cobb salad ($25) includes organic diced avocados, beets, cucumbers, and eggs. While delicious and refreshing, I do think that the star on the menu was the crab roll.
Crab roll ($26) came with a side of shoestring fries, and house made pickled organic vegetables. It was buttery, simple and decadent, done so well I think I'd call it exceptional. The toasted brioche bun is a welcome improvement to the traditional New England seafood roll. I hope other restaurants will replicate this roll using brioche versus the more common hot dog-like roll. If there was one complaint about Nettie's crab roll, it may be that there was a touch too much butter for my taste, but nonetheless it was good.
While we did not have any room for desserts, there were several platters of beautifully crafted sweets displayed. Perhaps next time. It was a sweet visual ending.
2032 Union Street (cross Buchannan)
San Francisco, CA 94123
Nettie's Winter Hours
Wednesday - Sunday 10am - 10pm
Monday 10am - 4pm