The Crab Tavern, an odd thing for me to be reviewing I know but I was promised they did more than seafood so I threw caution to the wind.
Branded as the place with the best crabs in Dubai this Media One venue is another London import, this time specialising in classic American seafood including clam chowder, surf and turf and bucket boils.
The interior of the restaurant is beautifully decorated with hard wood floors, leather chairs and low lighting, there is a real comforting feeling, very homely. The restaurant is divided into two areas, the bar area with high tables and chairs and then the restaurant area with very low tables and a variety of seating including booths and comfortable dining chairs.
When we arrived my first impression of the staff wasn’t great, they seemed very unsure of what they were doing, the hostess was quite dismissive and I can’t say we felt even remotely welcomed on arrival.
We started at the bar as we had arrived early and having looked through their drinks menu it was clear there were some great but dangerous sounding cocktails on offer. We ordered their take on the Moscow mule and a raspberry and tequila margarita type cocktail. Both were packed with flavour and plenty of alcohol, each one made with fresh ingredients.
Once we had finished our drinks we decided it was time to move to our table, when I approached the hostess again to ask for our table she looked at me blankly and asked if I had a reservation when she had seen me not 20 minutes previously and the restaurant was pretty much empty – great to know we made an impression.
Once we were seated we started reading through the menu which is small and concise and of course mainly featuring their signature crab dishes. We decided to go with starters and mains, then if there was room, maybe dessert, it was a fairly easy choice of starters, one clam chowder and one vegetarian arancini while for mains we went with the soft shell crab Caesar salad and the pot roasted chicken. Our waitress was very bubbly and friendly but a little invasive, when she came to take our drinks order she interrupted us mid conversation and stuck herself right between us by leaning over the small table, I felt a little uncomfortable with her approach.
When our starters arrived they looked delectable, beautifully presented and smelling wonderful. The clam chowder was creamy and full of flavour with an abundance of seafood, the bred it was served with was soft and warm, perfect for soaking up the chowder.
My arancini balls came served on a bed of fresh and crisp salad with a delicious tangy dressing, the arancini was perfectly cooked with creamy rice coated and cooked to perfection, they were cheesy and flavourful and by the time I had cleaned my plate I found myself quite sad that it was finished.
When the mains arrive we were less impressed, the Caesar salad arrive and was just a bowl of leaves topped with two deep fried crabs, I was expecting something much more broken down, perhaps shredded crab mixed through the leaves along with the whole anchovies that were used but instead they were just placed on top and sent out to the table. The salad itself was okay but a little bland, one of the crabs was good but the other was watery and bland like it had been frozen and badly defrosted, it was very unappetising and so was left unfinished.
My main was the pot roasted chicken and when it was placed in front of me I was surprised, it was probably some of the worst plating I had seen. Everything was brown bar the tarragon in the sauce, the chicken was very badly butchered with jagged edges and an incredibly thin breast, it was served on top of a piped mash and topped with a shallot, there was no green, no colour at all it was quite unappealing, but it smelt good. Taste wise the chicken was okay, nothing to write home about really, it was just chicken really, tender but not overly flavourful, the mash was good, smooth and creamy but it was really lacking something, some spinach, carrots, something to round out the meal.
When we were finished our meal we were quite unenthused about dessert so we didn’t bother with it, but we did spend a little while enjoying our wine and watching the people in the restaurant and one thing I noticed is that The Crab Tavern have an awful lot of staff on the floor at one time – considering it was the middle of the week and quiet – there were five or so hostesses and a multitude of managers who were all hanging around the hostess counter, I felt like I was watching a group of friends at a bar on a night out, laughing and messing around, it was very strange, no one seemed to be doing any work.
I can’t say that the restaurant really lived up to the hype for me but maybe if I could eat seafood and could enjoy one of their signature crab dishes I would have had a better experience but I would like to try out their Friday brunch, I have heard good things about it and it looks like good fun.
This is a sponsored post. I was compensated, but all opinions are my own.