#crabcakecrawl 2012

by Beth on July 23, 2012

This weekend Wendi, Jennifer and I embarked on a great mission–a #crabcakecrawl around Baltimore to find the best one standing!

The idea for #crabcakecrawl started at last year’s Big Summer Potluck. Wendi and Jennifer were talking about regional food and Maryland crab cakes, and the idea was born for Jennifer to come in to town for a visit, and for us to go about finding the best crab cake in Baltimore. Now obviously, our time was limited and we know there are some excellent cakes out there that we missed. But we’ll think of this as round one. Maybe we’ll create a big crab cake bracket and have a winner by year, and then a huge taste off. The possibilities (like the filling for crab cakes) are endless.

For this round, Wendi and Jennifer sampled four cakes, and I had three (sadly, the real world called for Friday lunch). My first stop on the tour was at Victoria Gastro Pub, a restaurant known for its beer and high end pub food in Columbia MD. Interesting trivia, this Victoria used to be a Bennigans, and it was actually the place where I bought and consumed my first legal drink!

Victoria’s crab cake has an aioli in it, so it’s not quite your traditional Maryland cake. But it is full of delicious jumbo lump with very little filler, so it earns it’s spot on the crawl. When paired with Victoria’s excellent duck fat fries, it was a winner.

After dinner, we headed to Ellicott City for Chesapeake Shakespeare’s production of Pride and Prejudice. We really enjoyed the production, except for the super awkward carriage riding thing that the actors did. Yeah, it kind of looked like they were having seizures, not riding in a carriage.

The next morning, we met up at the World Famous Lexington Market (their saying, not mine!) to sample the most famous crab cake in Baltimore, at Faidley’s Seafood. Faidley’s has been around since the 1880s, so they know what they’re doing in the crab cake department. Faidley’s is also the place that gets the national attention for crab cakes–if you’ve seen something on the Food Network about crab cakes, they were probably talking about Faidley’s.

So how were they? Excellent. All jumbo lump, perfect traditional Baltimore seasoning. There’s a reason why people line up for these things. But unfortunately everything else at Faidley’s was kind of mediocre. I will definitely be back for the cake, but next time I’ll skip the sides.

Our final stop of the weekend was at Gertrude’s, the restaurant of famed Baltimore chef John Shields. Shields is all about regional Maryland food, and Gertrude’s specialty is Maryland style comfort foods, albeit in a very upscale setting.

Gertrude’s is a beautiful space, and several of the menu items we sampled were fantastic–like the cream of crab soup, which may be my new all time favorite anywhere. But unfortunately, the crab cake I ordered was just okay. It had way too much filling, and was almost goopy in the middle. Now others at the table said their cakes were better, so maybe it was just the one I got, but it was definitely disappointing, and not at all what I was expecting.

Noel had the crab cake special of the day, which was not as traditional, but better.

So the winner of this bracket? In my book it was clearly Faidley’s. Traditional lump, and delicious. And who doesn’t love a place that also sells racoon?

Can’t wait for the next round of #crabcakecrawl!

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#crabcakecrawl 2012, Part 2
August 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm
JenniferA July 23, 2012 at 7:54 am

Excellent review, Beth! That picture of us cracks me up.

I don’t think I realized at the time that you didn’t care for your crab cake at Gertrude’s. I had the same kind as you did and mine didn’t seem goopy. But, I still agree with you – Faidley’s FTW!

Love the idea of an ongoing bracket too. Brilliant! It would be a tough job tasting all those crab cakes but someone has to do it. :-)

Thank you again to you and to Wendi for the hospitality and warm welcome this weekend! I had a great time.

Elizabeth July 23, 2012 at 9:54 am

How fun! I have never really identified the “best” crabcake. Trying to find it will be a major undertaking! I do like the Victoria one, but it is one of the strangest ones, too, since they put the lemon and basil in there. I think the crab houses (serving steamed crabs) in the area tend to have good crab cakes b/c they are probably homemade.

Amy July 23, 2012 at 9:55 am

We had the crab cakes at Bertha’s Mussels this weekend- they were delicious! I would definitely recommend them, they were very moist and not over-fried, with lots of big crab lumps in them.

eileendv July 23, 2012 at 11:19 am

I was lucky enough to join for Friday’s cake at Victoria, and it was delicious!! I loved the extra moist-ness from the aioli, and the almost pesto flavoring!!

Nancy July 23, 2012 at 11:30 am

My grandmother was a cook in a tavern in Baltimore City in the 1940′s and 50′s and made the best crab cakes. Second to her’s is Pappas on Taylor Avenue in Parkville. I now live in North Carolinia and have them shipped here. Every trip we make to Maryland inlcudes a stop at Pappas.

Biz July 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I rarely order crab cakes for fear of the dreaded chopped onion – but I’ve made them at home – OMG, I just searched on my blog – it was nearly 4 years ago I posted my recipe for crab cakes for one!

Don’t be jealous of the stellar photography back then!


kate @ bbf. July 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm

so jealous, beth! up here (short of buying the $25/lb. meat and making my own), i resorted to the premade ones at whole foods – they weren’t terrible, but nothing like the ones you have pictured here.

Beth July 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Kate, we were discussing that we need to have a lobster roll crawl at some point. I’m game for going to Maine!

Melinda July 25, 2012 at 12:58 am

Yum! Love this post! I think when I am in town crab cakes are one of the only things I eat. Oh and crab soup and crab pretzels. Everything else I can get in other places.

Elizabeth July 25, 2012 at 7:41 am

WHAT FUN!! I love Faidley’s too!!

Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon July 26, 2012 at 9:36 am

#crabcakecrawl was a delicious success! Victoria and Faidley’s were tops on my score sheet.

Brackets? Hells yes!

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