Jalapeno's: Glen Rock, NJ, and several rants
Smith Brothers in Ridgewood, NJ: Fire

First soft shell crabs of the 07 season: Oceanos in Fairlawn, NJ

Actually, the first for me this season were at Nellie's in Waldwick, but they weren't all that.  Their fried chicken, however, is as good as their pizza, which is pretty damned good.

ANYway, we called Oceanos a few nights ago to see if they had Copper River Salmon or soft shells in.  <aside>Always call ahead for this type of thing.  The availability of fresh, quality seafood is dependent upon a variety of factors, and some days there might not be one thing or another.  The last thing I need is someone posting a sniveling comment chastising a restaurant for not having what I said they have.  Jeesh people, come on.  M'kay?</aside>  The Copper River Salmon didn't come in on this day, but they did have soft shells, and that was enough for us.

Soft_shell

Last year's crab.

You can have your soft shells one of a few ways at Oceanos.  Our preference is deep fried (and I make no excuses for it), although I enjoy a sauteed soft shell crab on occasion.  Less is more to my mind, and lemony buttery stuff isn't my bag.

Just as they were last summer at Oceanos, these were some meaty beasts.  I expected them to be much smaller this early in the season, but to my surprise they were quite large.  When I expressed that surprise to the owners Nick and Peter, they both said "of course they're big:  they're whalers."  That's probably fish guy parlance for "big soft shell crabs".  Call 'em what you want guys, just keep getting them.

Another hit of the meal was the margarita.  I'm on a mission to find a good margarita (or a bartender who will listen to exactly what I tell them), and I think I've found a real winner, at a Greek seafood restaurant of all places.  Bartender Cara muddled some limes and shook them with only Patron and Cointreau, and 2 pinches of salt, per my instructions.  And then to top me, she added some Grand Marnier.  I have to say, the Grand Marnier really made a difference.  It lent a nutty flavor to the drink (at least I think it did), and it will now be in my margaritas at home.

Good stuff.  Not cheap, but good stuff.

Oceanos : 2-27 Saddle River Rd : Fair Lawn, NJ : 201.796.0546

Nellie's Place : 9 Franklin Turnpike : Waldwick, NJ : 201.652.8626

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