At $22 per person, the Mermaid Inn Monday-night crab boil is not only cheaper than Back Forty’s similar promotion, but a hell of a lot easier to access. I made an OpenTable reservation while taking care of three other tasks at work without breaking a sweat.
All considered, $22 was a fair price for the mixed bag that was dumped in front of us. The server poured the whole kaboodle out of the metal bucket onto the papered table—eight or nine crabs, baby red potatoes, corn, and an inordinately large amount of seasoned cooking water. We were fighting off the creeping deluge throughout the night as it saturated the table and made its way ever closer to our laps.
And really, the cooks should have just left the sides in the cooler where they had clearly been for a while. The corn was ossified and the potatoes were flavorless—one of them was even sprouting hair—so we were very glad to have started off the meal with six chilled and bracingly fresh Pemaquid oysters.
Still, the crabs gave themselves up easily and the meat inside our hard-shelled suckers was flaky, not mushy, and seasoned well with a spicy Old Bay mix. We were happy just to pick away, suck out the leg meat, and watch the pile of shells and napkins accumulate.
I had to scrub up in the bathroom like a surgeon after the meal, lathering myself up to my elbows to clean off the liquid that had dripped down my arms. This is why summertime is perfect for this type of chowdown: no sleeves to get in the way.
As is tradition at the Mermaid Inn, free chocolate pudding and a fortune-telling fish went a long way to end the evening on an up note. And as Lisa astutely noted, the point of a crab boil isn’t to stuff yourself to the point of oblivion—you would need an awful lot of crustacean devastation to get to that point. It’s a way to linger and let yourselves work your way through a lot of good conversation as you concentrate. It’s a meal that’s built for sharing in every sense of the word.
Blue Crab Mondays run through August 31, so those of you in the mood for some cheap crabs have a few more weeks to get yourself down to the East Village. Just ask your waitstaff to triple-ply your table with kraft paper and napkins.