Crab Tavern is on the leading edge of the latest food trend to hit the city. Lobsters have come and (mostly) gone from the limelight but it seems the thought is to capitalise on our love of shellfish by moving just a little bit further along. Located as part of the new Broadgate Circle food hub, it’s very much designed to cater to suits in the City which two floors, massive bars, and a polished modern look.
What you need to know:
- The menu is naturally seafood-centric but there are more earth bound meat and plant options
- Service can be a bit slow particularly on weekends
- Wine list is reasonably priced
- There is limited outdoor seating but tons of space indoors
Food: ★★★☆☆ Service: ★★☆☆☆ Atmosphere: ★★★☆☆ Value: ★★☆☆☆ Overall: ★★☆☆☆
The Broadgate Circle hub boasts plenty of restaurants if you want to chill out there and you can usually take your drinks outside to enjoy the sunny weather. Alternatively, there are a few decent pubs in the area or if you don’t mind a short walk there is always the nicer cocktail joints such as Duck & Waffle bar, Whistling Shop, and City Social.
How’s the crab?
Honestly I’m having a bit of trouble deciding on the value of the crab. Sure, the deep fried soft shell crab was good with a great crunch and a decent flavour. The crab roll on the other hand seemed to be a largely tasteless mess on top of a slightly stale brioche roll. The Singapore chilli crab was generous in volume yet the sauce was terribly bland. Singapore chilli crab is supposed to be rich and fiery yet this was little more than crab in tomato soup. So far, not impressed.
That being said, they do have some great dishes. The clam chowder was delicious and definitely worth trying and the crispy calamari was quite tender with a great crunchy batter. I really liked the steak tartare in both presentation and taste and the seasoned fries were excellent too.
Crab Tavern also does a few classic sandwiches and we tried the lot. The lobster BLT was an interesting idea but any flavour of the delicate lobster was overpowered by the slice of back bacon which dominated the dish. A oyster po’boy was well executed but ridiculously small to the extent that it may be a decent level side but would leave you hungry if you tried getting it solo for lunch. And for a tenner, you do expect a bit more than 3-4 bites.
Finally, the shrimp Mac’n’Cheese toastie was lacking even a single shrimp (or they were chopped up so small as to be unnoticeable) and was little more than a thin grilled cheese with a bit of pasta. For £12 quid that’s akin to highway robbery.
The group opted against dessert although there were a couple of items that caught my eye, those being the brownie stack with salted caramel ice cream and the pecan & maple tart with bourbon ice cream.
Sounds like you need a drink!
Yep, and luckily here is where Crab Tavern holds its own. We opted for a young Picpoul de Pinet which paired nicely with the seafood yet was light and refreshing to drink on its own. For £29, it was a good value choice. That being said, if you are looking for something on the finer range you might be out of luck as the most expensive wine is a 2013 NZ Pinot Noir coming in just shy of £47. But don’t worry, you can always select something from the relatively large sparkling wine selection with a £220 Krug Grande Cuvee or the £175 Moet Et Chandon 2004.
Worth the dosh?
A start and main each plus a couple of glasses of wine came to around £35pp which was a bit punchy given the quality and quantity of food. While no means unreasonable for the City, it did leave me wishing I had just grabbed a burger from Patty & Bun. I’m sure Crab Tavern will do well with the lunch and post-work drinks crowd, but if it’s really the “best crab restaurant in London” then I think the capitol needs to up its game.