In Search of … Crabcakes

By ·

Five local takeout cakes go claw to claw in our exclusive taste test.


As soon as the temperature hits 70, we start craving crabs in all forms, from boils to cakes. And about halfway through a ridiculously laborious crabcake recipe from David Rosengarten’s highbrow cookbook Taste, we decided it was time to find a reliable local cake we could (dishonestly) call our own.

Seafood Revelations

Bobby Chez Famous Jumbo Lump Crabcakes
Five area locations; bobbychezcrabcakes.com[1]
$6.95 each

People have been telling us about Bobby Chez for years. We thought it was a Pat’s/Geno’s mass hysteria kind of thing, where there’s no positive correlation between the food and the hype. This is not the case. People should go on and on about Bobby Chez crabcakes, with their great big chunks of incredibly fresh and buttery jumbo lump crab meat, plus a perfect crust. One warning: Bobby Chez has been known to sell out of crabcakes while dozens of people are still in line. You can’t reserve in advance.

Big Daddy’s Crabcakes
380 Egg Harbor Road, Sewell, 856-218-8888; bigdaddyscrabcakes.com[2]
$6.95 each

We’re guessing that Big Daddy was an employee or at least a devoted customer of Bobby Chez’s, because his crabcakes are strikingly similar — in size, texture and, fortunately, taste. We actually prefer Big Daddy’s crust a bit. But since there’s only one location — in Sewell — Bobby Chez is a hell of a lot more convenient. Unless they run out. In which case, call Big Daddy, who will put some aside for you.

Runners-Up

Main Line Seafood
31 Rittenhouse Place, Ardmore; 610-642-4510
$6.95 each

The folks at Main Line Seafood might suggest baking their crabcake, but it absolutely needs a good fry. The fried version was respectable, with large chunks of lump crabmeat and bits of red pepper and parsley. But we didn’t care for the thick cracker-meal crust, and the overly creamy interior made this a bit more like a crab-dip cake. Still, one of the better crab flavors.

Ike’s Famous Crabcakes
Various locations in Millville and Ocean City; 856-825-CRAB
$25 for six full-size cakes

The next time you’re at the Jersey Shore, Ike’s is worth a side trip. It’s a delightful family restaurant, and they sell their crabcakes to go. We were a bit put off at first that 1) they’re frozen; and 2) they make you buy six at a time. The freezing didn’t seem to hurt the cakes, which were made from the best crab of the bunch, but they very annoyingly fell apart in the pan. “That’s because there’s virtually no filler,” said the restaurant. True, but we want crabcakes, not crab crumbs.

Out of Luck

Ippolito’s Seafood Co.
1300 Dickinson Street, 215-389-8906; ippolitoseafood.biz[3]
$6.99 each

These crabcakes are about the size and shape of an Idaho potato, and as bland. The dark crabmeat needed some hefty seasoning, but the crabcake tasted more like the oil we fried it in than anything else. Also, the meat was finely minced, like in a tuna fish sandwich. We’ll still go to Ippolito’s to buy fresh seafood, but we’re taking our crabcake business elsewhere.

Endnotes:
  1. bobbychezcrabcakes.com: http://www.bobbychezcrabcakes.com
  2. bigdaddyscrabcakes.com: http://www.bigdaddyscrabcakes.com
  3. ippolitoseafood.biz: http://www.ippolitoseafood.biz/home.html

Source URL: https://www.phillymag.com/news/2006/06/05/in-search-of-crabcakes/