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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
DIRTY DICK'S CRAB HOUSE
On our most recent trip to Virginia Beach I was dying to dive into a platter of fresh (as in live), piping hot, steamed blue crabs. Poking around on the internet I found this restaurant and I saw my quest on the internet menu. This restaurant looked liked it would fill everybody's bill however it did not.
The restaurant is situated right on an inlet with pleasure boats anchored up all over the place. It had a great look about it as we entered.
Arriving at the table there was another very encouraging sign. Instead of table cloths the tables were covered with butcher type paper and each table had a huge roll of paper towels. That's a sure sign that a place does, indeed, serve crabs because they are very messy to crack into. Plus, each table had several crab claw crackers. So I prepared myself for a great experience.
The cost of many of the "market priced" items were posted on a chalk board behind our table. They listed steamed clams, oysters, king crab legs and "#1 blue crabs." The blue crabs were $20 for a half dozen. #1 size means large but not jumbo. I felt the price was a bit steep for that size crab but we went ahead and ordered a half dozen. Our kids showed no interest in crabs but my wife and I wanted to spilt a half dozen.
Others at the table ordered calamari for their starters and the table shared an order of artichoke crab dip. The calamari and crab dip were both quite good.
The first sign of serious trouble for the crab lovers came when the crabs showed up just 4 minutes after we ordered them. Alarms immediately went off. To custom steam crabs it takes a good 20 minutes. So we knew that these had been lying around for quite some time. When I cracked the first one open and went for the lump meat behind the swimmer fin, the truth was revealed. Instead of a nice chunk of tender, firm, juicy, succulent crab meat, it was a clump of paste with the consistency of mashed potatoes. Folks, these were the worst blue crabs we've ever tasted. My wife bothered with a couple of bites and I cracked open a few claws. The claws were passable but barely. I suspect that these blue crabs probably came to the restaurant cooked and frozen and were just thawed out and reheated. We've had blue crabs on the east coast, in Florida, and in New Orleans so we know what we're talking about. In fact we used to catch our own along Salt Bayou near New Orleans and these half dozen expensive crabs at Dirty Dick's were horrible. I should have complained to our waitress but she looked like she was pissed off at the world and was NOT happy being there.
For my main course I got a combo involving flounder and "fresh" oysters. The fish was okay. Not fishy tasting but not really fresh tasting. The oysters seemed fresh but I can't imagine that they originated from around there. Most oysters around here are pretty small. These were gigantic. They reminded me of large Pacific oysters. My daughter ordered Jambalaya and it was so bad and weird tasting that she only ate a few bites. Thank goodness that the appetizers were good and she filled up on those. My wife got a fried combo platter featuring shrimp and scallops and she seemed happy with her meal. Our son-in law got blackened mahi mahi and he didn't seem real pleased with it. However when he offered me a sample, it was--by far--the best thing I had tasted when it comes to our main meals here. Our little grand kids ordered kiddie burgers and fries and enjoyed throwing stuff all over the floor.
Dinner with a couple of beers and an inexpensive bottle of wine came to $197 including an added 18% tip. This is one of the few places in Virginia Beach that tacks a tip onto the bill.
Judging from our one experience here my suggestion would be to find another place. This one just didn't measure up. And whatever you do, don't waste your time and money on the blue crabs unless you get a guarantee that they are live and being cooked to order.
This place is located at 503 Winston Avenue and have a web site here.