Saturday, June 23, 2007

OC Road Trip #3: Higgins Crab House

I insisted on crabs for dinner. There are dozens of crab houses in Ocean City, but three of us in our group finally settled on Higgin’s Crab House on 31st and Coastal Hwy. Not cheap, but crabs rarely are, so this was an expense I expected to incur.

Higgins has all-you-can-eat crabs for $25. Ad steamed shrimp or BBQ ribs and you pay $30. I got the crabs and shrimp, which comes with so much more!

  • Maryland crab soup (good)
  • French fries (good, too)
  • Cole slaw (doable)
  • Corn on the cob (hot and juicy)
  • Open-kettle fried chicken (not recommended; see below).

Of the three of us, I alone ordered crabs. As for the others, one ordered pretty tasty fried shrimp ($18). The other one of us ordered fried chicken. Please don’t order Higgin’s fried chicken. It is tough on the outside (the breading is rock-hard). The inside is standard fried chicken, but I was annoyed enough with the exterior to hardly touch the one piece I got with my meal.

As to the crabs: God, I love crabs. Not much Old Bay on them (I prefer them covered with the stuff), and I had to ask for a little cup of it to swish my crab into. I’ve heard of a dozen different ways to eat steamed crabs. The basic process of ripping them open is standard, but how and when you get to the meat is another story. Some people like to denude the crab of all meat before eating it. Me, I like ripping the crab open and then working on each half, eating the meat as I get to it. And the crab butter inside I ate little of, though I’m not always opposed to it. I’ve even seen it sold by itself in little plastic jars in Filipino markets.

What you do afterwards varies from person to person. One college friend of mine used to swirl it in beer, butter and Old Bay, and then eat it. I’d rather have the beer on the side, but I do swish it in Old Bay and butter. It’s a lot easier for me to put the Old Bay in the butter.

The crabs were good, if small, and easy to crack open – particularly the claws, from which I was able to get the entire claw’s meat in one chunk with one or two well-placed mallet strokes. But I found that I can only get through four crabs and, say, a dozen steamed shrimp – again, the Old Bay was pretty tamely applied – before I’m full. And all that butter made me feel a little ill. But I loved it, apart from the price ($74 for the three of us before tip). As steamed crabs go, these were a wee bit tame. The seasoning was not much there, which can be a plus if you want more crab flavor and less Old Bay. And again, they were small – as are the least expensive one these days. But I’d go back, after I try out a few other places.


Bob said...

Usually the chicken at Higgins is really good - I'm sorry you didn't have a chance to give it a second try. I worked at Higgins on 132nd street for the last four summers.

When it comes to crabs, though, Higgins is one of the only places in Ocean City that really does get their crabs from Maryland. Some of the other places, especially ones that have a certain "Bahama" name, will go anywhere for crabs, but still call them Maryland Blues.

If you have a chance to go back at some point, order the larger crabs instead of all-you-can-eat. They will be better tasting, bigger, meatier, and you'll actually be full with just crabs.

John said...

I was at the one at 31st St. I don't know if that had anything to do with it. But next time I will just order the large crabs and nothing else. I don't need all that extra soup and cole slaw.