Shellfish Supper in Marylebone at Fancy Crab:
What is it that inspires the designers of fish restaurants to make them look as if they might once have been a fish shop? There are, of course, varying degrees of fish shop styling – at Fancy Crab it was relatively restrained. Just some marble-topped tables, exposed brickwork and a chandelier that looked as if someone might have adapted it from a lobster pot. And only a very few green metro tiles…
We were both were grateful to be sitting in the comfortable banquettes to the side of the restaurant and I suspect that later on during service, the central area might get a little frenetic. Great for a group though…
Fancy Crab, as the name suggests, focusses on King Crab – which, according to Wiki, isn’t actually crab at all but ‘a taxon of crab-like decapod crustaceans chiefly found in cold seas…generally thought to be derived from hermit crab-like ancestors. These come from the North Atlantic, North Barant Sea. Fancy crab is an altogether easier way to think of these beasts, which can grow to 10kg in weight and 3M long.
They are also cooked and frozen at sea – so you won’t find tanks of live King Crab at Fancy Crab. Though they do name their crabs…apparently the first person to order each day is given that privilege. Cyril, above weighed in as a bit of a lightweight at just 3.5kg. But since the whole crabs are priced at £89 per kilo, we stuck to ordering off the main menu.
Our server, Emmanuel, was keen to get us to try different parts of the crab and encouraged us to order a whole leg and shoulder. And, we opted for the Singapore Chilli Crab since Fancy Crab say that is their signature dish.
To start, some oysters for me – two plain Pacific oysters and then one each of the Mojito Granita oyster and the Japanese dressing oyster. I had no problem with the dressed oysters, but I probably wouldn’t order them again – the freshness of the plain oysters sung through for me and was really quite delicious.
My companion loved her ultra fresh raw bar Salmon with Bonito Sorbet too.
We’d ordered drinks and while the beautiful Passion Fruit Colada (Absolut, Koko Kan, Passion Fruit, Fresh Cream and Coconut Cream) arrived within an almost reasonable timescale, I was left waiting for a glass of wine – and ended up getting up to find some water for the table. Service from Emanuel himself was spotless and very well informed. But, there was only one of him and the result was that we’d finished our starters before any drinks or even water arrived. That said, the cocktail was one which made me deeply envious as I sipped a prosaic glass of Sauvignon Blanc
Moving on my Singapore crab was pleasant enough but lacked quite enough heat and I personally really missed the ‘messiness’ that should come with this dish. The last time I ate Singapore Crab was in Singapore – and there we were providing with crackers, bibs and finger bowls. Here, the crab has been carefully removed from the shell and then put back somehow. That said – if I hadn’t had the real thing, I’d have loved this dish. It’s a good-sized portion and comes with a helping of rice. For those looking for a gentle introduction to Singapore Crab, it’s not a bad way to start.
The whole grilled leg and shoulder was sweet and succulent – really very delicious. Similarly to the Singapore Crab, everything had been neatly picked and returned to the shell making it very easy to eat. Fries and the buttery sauce were also good.
We managed to neatly polish off the lot with no problem and moved on to dessert. Luckily both of us had our eye on the Pear Tarte Tatin – a lush dish for two, which I’d order again. While the Fancy Crab offering doesn’t quite match the Galvin Brothers version, it’s still a delicious balance of sweet fruit, flaky pastry and ice-cream.
I love the concept of Fancy Crab – it’s a fancier version of that old favourite Burger and Lobster. And, I enjoyed most of the food, although from those dishes I tried I’d personally recommend sticking to the simpler options – the grilled or cold crab for example. That’s because Fancy Crab worked best for me when they were serving what is an excellent basic food without too much fuss – both the Oysters and the Grilled Crab were delicious and the quality of the fish shone through. Though I’d be tempted to go back and try the King Crab burger or the fettuccine, both of which are reasonably priced and sound good on paper. And, there’s a well priced bottomless brunch (£29.50 for 90 minutes of free-flowing prosecco and a three-course meal). Though sadly that doesn’t include the Pear Tatin:)
92 Wigmore Street,
London W1U 3RD