When I rolled into Savannah and my car died, I knew my time was short once I finally got rolling again … so I knew there was only one place I really couldn’t miss: The Crystal Beer Parlor!
For those of you who GPS, it’s:
The Crystal Beer Parlor
301 W. Jones Street
Savannah, GA 31401
The Crystal Beer Parlor first opened their doors in the early 1900s as the Gerken Family Grocery. Since that time, it’s been a speakeasy, then a legal bar after Prohibition, and finally a restaurant and drinking establishment … but mostly it’s been a Savannah landmark for more than 75 years.
It’s been owned and operated by a couple of different families/organizations over the years, but most of them have maintained parts of the original decor.
It’s also the home of some of the best crab dishes you’ll find on the east coast. They’ve been through several different owners over the years (in fact, they’ve only recently reopened after quite a long period of being closed for renovation), but their ability to turn the common, ordinary blue crab into something excellent remains strong to this day. In addition to their crab stew–made with just a hint of sherry–they serve crab cakes and crab burgers that have been known to make coast-dwelling Southerners weak at the knees. I’ve eaten quite a few other types of crab in my travels—from the succulent rock crabs I enjoyed in the Miami area … to the massive dungeness crabs of the Pacific Northwest … to the ever-present snow crab and Alaskan king crab legs that so many restaurants now serve as staples—but I will admit to still harboring a slight taste preference for the flavor of fresh ocean-raised Atlantic Ocean blue crabs over any other eight-legged offering in the world.
Granted, I know those compact little blue crabs are hard to pick. They don’t have the rock hard shells of stone crabs—only the claws are really hard … and they’re soft part of the year, too—but their body is a mass of a million little soft cartilage pockets, each containing a tiny bitt of meat. I’ve picked more than my share in my life, and cussed many of them in the process. It’s disgusting to pick an entire blue crab … and only discover barely a teaspoon of meat inside. However, you can’t find a better tasting, more intensely-flavored crab on the planet … at least, as far as I’ve explored. In fact, blue crab is the only crab that I think can stand up to any sort of breading at all … like my Crystal Beer Parlor crab cakes
They were–quite simply–heavenly! It’s easy to understand, too. In fact, they describe them in the menu as:
Blue Crab Claw Meat with Just Enough Stuff to Hold ’em Together, Served with a Sweet Red Pepper Remoulade
How lovely is that?
Frankly, I sat the coleslaw aside and only ate two french fries … but I couldn’t manage to eat more than about one and a third of these golden-fried beauties. Not only were they HUGE … they were also perfectly cooked, and so crammed full of rich blue crab meat that the flavor just POPPED in your mouth with every bite: especially with a drizzle of that red pepper remoulade on it … oh, my!
Final score: Crystal Beer Parlor always gets an A in my book. I’d eat there every chance I got if I still lived in the Savannah area. The food is well prepared and fresh … and my waiter was an adorable little 20something who was as cute as he could be … though, I probably would have made him blush to the roots of his curly blond ringlets if I’d told *him* that