Dining Out

Dining Out

Restaurant Review

By John Strother

It’s a pleasure to enjoy regional fine dining among the ever growing swell of restaurant franchises that dot the landscape of Pinnacle Hills, and many with envious customer drawing clout such as Carrabba’s, Ruth’s Chris and Bonefish Grill.

Crabby’s, the new restaurant on South 52nd Street in Rogers, has the strength of a rich menu and moderate prices that should entice and comfort any Northwest Arkansas diner.

The Rogers restaurant is Crabby’s second establishment; the original location is just across the border in Joplin, Mo.,  perhaps explaining the well-executed feel of both the layout and menu.

The open dining room with its sealed concrete floor achieves a sense of roominess, although the restaurant is located in an upscale business park and actually occupies a fairly limited floor space.

The interior opens up to clean lines, a few tasteful art deco designs surrounding warm mahogany tables under a myriad of soft accent lights. Booths line the outside edge and some of the walls showcase large tubes of fanciful blown glass lighting.

Conversation was easy as I could only catch a few notes of the piped-in music. A raised bar lines the length of the room, and thankfully the three televisions behind it were not a distraction from my table.

As expected the menu has a strong choice of seafood dishes; grilled, blackened or pan fried fish, pan seared scallops, crispy country style shrimp, lobster tail and, of course, crab in several inviting forms. There is also an excellent offering of dishes such as Fillet of Beef Tenderloin, Pan Seared Duck and Feta Encrusted Lamb Chops.

I had decided on blackened fish for my main entrée, which virtually required ordering crab cakes as an appetizer, a consistent favorite of mine. The two crab cakes, for $11, were some of the best I’ve ever had; soft, buttery lumps of crab enclosed in a light crunchy seared crust and served atop tart roasted tomatoes.

As a bonus to dining early, we also picked the Crab Spinach Dip from the Happy Hour menu for a modest $4. Everyday from 4 to 6 p.m., several appetizers are offered along with $2 draft beer and half-off wine by the glass.

The dip was nice, the slightly bitter spinach contrasted well with the creamy artichokes and sauce, although the crab was somewhat subdued and tortilla chips were served rather than toasted baguettes.
Most of the dishes I observed, as well as our own, were plated in a clever stacked presentation.

The Blackened Salmon Oscar ($20) fillet was toped with lump crabmeat and then stacked on asparagus stalks, which were themselves atop a disk of mashed potatoes. Should I work from the top down or deconstruct?

It was a visually appealing dish full of absolutely solid flavor. The culinary focus isn’t solely on the centerpiece of blackened salmon and instead encompasses the whole with ideal sides of crispy grilled asparagus and deep creamy lobster mashed potatoes that made every bite a joy.

The Blackened Red Snapper ($19) had a more peppery bite from a heavier dusting of Cajun spices. A slightly sweet note for the dish is set by a pineapple butter sauce and a light mix of couscous and raisins spiced with ginger.

Entrées include a choice of soup or salad; we both chose the Seafood Chowder, a velvety bisque like soup that was a pleasant departure from the more traditional thick New England potato based chowder. It was a light mix of crab, corn and soft carrots.

As an end to our evening we decided on a pair of deserts; a Classic (as defined on the menu) Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee and the Bourbon Bread Pudding, both $6 each. The bread pudding is my strong recommendation, not to down play the perennial favorite brulee, yet this Southern-inspired pudding with its lush filling and pools of warm bourbon was enough alone to garner returned visits.

Crabby’s is short hop if you take exit 83 off I-540. The restaurant’s brushed metal facing with a large crab looks out to the cluster of new hotels from the upscale, although surprisingly quiet, Crossland Building. This development is set slightly north of Pinnacle Hills and has the isolated vibe of a once hot market that has cooled in recent months and left a few empty spaces in the mix.
Take it as an opportunity to avoid the gnarled traffic on the other side of I-540 and treat yourself to a truly wonderful dinning experience at Crabby’s Seafood Bar and Grill.

Categories: Legacy Archive