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!