On a recent weekend—the wait at Crab Cooker too damn long, the peninsula lousy with tourists and we too hungry to navigate the parking nightmare—my husband, Greg, suggested we try Crabby Kenny's. We had passed it on our way to its more famous cousin, and there was no line stretching from the door to the sea. It was kind of new and untested and therefore exciting, and like I said, we were hungry.
Crabby Kenny's is located in what is supposed to look like a rundown sea shack—a rundown sea shack with, behind the specials menu, a tank full of fishies who swim blissfully unaware that I plan to eat them for dinner. Peanut shells litter the floor—a marketing idea that suggests the indolence of seaside life. Each table comes with a bowl of unshelled peanuts; call them appetizers if you want, but we thought of them as potential toys because there's nothing quite as entertaining as launching peanut shells into the crease of a friend's beloved fedora. And our snappy waitress encouraged such behavior. We love her. She rules (that's what she said, and we believe her).
Also accompanying every meal is a steaming loaf of soft sourdough bread, perfect for mopping up the spicy tomato broth of my seafood tsunami. Since the menu doesn't identify the ingredients, I'll let you in on the secret: it's basically a large bowl of scallops, shrimp, still-in-their-shells clams and mussels, chunks of white fish, squid, and baby octopuses. Not being a mussel fan, I asked for a mussel-free tsunami, unaware that octopuses would be in there, too. Their sucker-studded legs appeared everywhere, so I tried one: I now know I am not a fan of those, either. But everything else was tasty, and the scallops were among the softest we had ever had.
Greg opted for the snow crab—two crabs' worth of legs piled on a platter with your choice of garlic mashed potatoes or new potatoes, plus corn and coleslaw. The garlic mashed potatoes were creamy but not very garlicky, and the coleslaw could only be described as limp. But no matter: it was the crab legs he was after, and those appeared perfectly cooked and drenched in butter and lemon. Greg cheered Crabby Kenny's decision to include serious-looking metal tools—including an industrial-strength seafood cracker—with his meal instead of the plastic utensils and walnut cracker offered by the Crab Cooker; however, he would've been happier—and it would've taken far less time to eat—if Crabby Kenny's had scored the legs as the other crab house does.
We thought about ordering dessert, but the truth is we had no appetite left after our feast. For some of us, that's the highest compliment.
Crabby Kenny's, located at 3012 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, is open daily, 4-11 p.m. (949) 723-1377. Dinner for two, $35, food only. Beer and wine. All major credit cards accepted.
Patrice Marsters started at OC Weekly as an intern, just before the first issue was published. She is now the associate editor of the paper, serves on the board of the Orange County Press Club, and mentors aspiring writers and editors at Newport Harbor High School. In her spare time, Ms. Marsters co-leads a multi-level Girl Scout troop, creates baked goods, and rants at inanimate objects (including her computer) about her grammatical and writing pet peeves.