A favorite hobby of mine is waking up on a weekend and hopping into the city for lunch. This is a way better hobby than getting up and, say, working out. Unfortunately, the prejudices of others conspire to keep us away from lunch menus on weekends. See, for some reason, on weekends, restaurants feel the need to abandon the food that makes them successful, the food which is the manifestation of the chef's vision, the food that makes them stand apart from their competitors, the food that people rave about on blogs, and instead of making that food, they're making freakin' pancakes and eggs and yogurt with granola. Oh, and they mix sparkling wine and orange juice.This clearly drives me up a wall, and makes our weekend dining decisions that much more complex and time-intensive.
Thankfully there are a few (well, thousands probably) restaurants that will serve decent, non-brunch food in NYC, including Blue Smoke, North End Grill (both being Danny Meyer restaurants...I guess he knows what he's doing), and as we found out last weekend, Fatty Crab.
Tip: get here at 11.30, like middle-aged tourists from New Jersey, and you'll have the whole, tiny place to yourself.
Fatty Crab serves Malaysian-inspired food. Spice, sweet, acid, fermented flavors. Right up my alley.
The cocktail list includes some classics, and some new twists. Vodka-based cocktails are appropriately near non-existent. Instead, you'll be seeing far more interesting spirits, like rye, bourbon, tequila and gin. Just as God intended.
The wines-by-the-glass program is as crafty as the cocktails. New world chardonnay is non-existent. Instead, food-appropriate wines, like Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, and Prosecco make appearances on the short and to-the-point list.
We started off with a pork belly salad, because who wouldn't. Chunks of moist, luscious, slightly sweet pork belly, with a bunch of herbs, some fried shallots, and other stuff which I cannot remember. Fantastic dish. The fresh herbs really played well with the pork belly. Great textures throughout the dish (squishy, crunchy, fresh). I'd order this again.
Next up was a roasted duck dish, known as Fatty Duck. None of that medium-rare duck breast nonsense that you too often see. This thing was cooked low and slow, and then very likely dropped in a deep fryer before getting a sprinkling of pickled vegetables, a drizzle of a sweet sauce, and placed on top of rice. There's a trend toward sweet in the cooking here, and this dish was no exception. However, it was well-balanced. This needs no additional description. I'd order this again.
The third and final dish was the famous Chili Crab, described as having "chili sauce" and white toast. Basically, toast and Dungeness crab in the shell in a curry sauce. Market price for this was about 50 bucks.
There's no denying the sauce was very tasty (spoon-slurping-worthy), but a bit sweeter than I had expected. The crab was delicious, and the sauce, somehow, didn't overwhelm the sweet crab flavor. Since you're eating this thing with your fingers, there's a always a bit of sauce in, on, and around your mouth. Logistically this works out very well. However I would not advise ordering this on a first date. And I likely wouldn't order it again. Oh, and that toast is there so you can continue eating the sauce when the crab is all gone, presumably so you feel like you're getting your money's worth. Good toast and sauce, there's no denying.
It's very easy to get to Fatty Crab if you're coming in from New Jersey. Pop through either of the tunnels, and within minutes you're in the neighborhood. Also in the neighborhood is the High Line, which provides a nice way to work off your lunch. Although it does tend to get crowded with tourists from New Jersey.
Fatty Crab : 643 Hudson Street : New York, NY