In New York, City Crab Shack Reopens and Chills Out

The restaurant was reinvigorated by a recent move down the street
City Crab Shack

Helaina Hovitz

Peel and eat shrimp sells for nine dollars. 

A few hundred feet from Union Square is a new seafood restaurant with nautical décor, low ceilings, and baskets of perfectly seasoned-peel-and-eat shrimp — just nine bucks for half a pound's worth. 

Actually, it's not so much new as it is nuanced: a retrofitted, reincarnated version of the 23-year-old Park Avenue South staple, City Crab & Seafood Company. The restaurant was forced to move into the new digs, on 16th Street just west of Union Square, after Danny Meyer’s Union Square Café took over the previous space last year.

City Crab Shack's new “no shirt, no shoes, no problem” vibe is executed through bright red booths, an over-sized tank filled with the freshest crabs and lobster, and colored buoys that hang from the ceiling. It’s the kind of atmosphere you’d find down on the coast somewhere, with signs like “Unattended Children Will Be Used as Crab Bait” tacked onto the walls, yet, there it is, a stone’s throw from Fifth Avenue.

While devising the menu, restaurateurs Andrew Silverman and Dean Palin put together a focus group to find out what the “food voids” were in the neighborhood.

After the results were in, they decided to fill those voids with dishes like Aunt Rae's Maryland crab soup, “Down East” lobster rolls, NOLA "French Quarter" blue crab beignets, and pan seared day-boat sea scallops. 

A Culinary Institute of America alum, Silverman can often be found scouring and sourcing the new Fulton Fish Market in Hunt’s Point to bring seafood from the docks of the Eastern Shores to his guests’ tables.

“I spend most of my time personally sourcing crabs, lobster and lobster meat, oysters, and dock-to-door fresh caught fish from the new fish market in Hunt’s Point, three to four times per week,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and have developed great relationships with local fisherman and oystermen.”

The staff is friendly, the seafood is fresh, and nobody seems to mind that it’s cash-only (for now).

To us, this place sounds like a great catch.

 

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