The Crab Catcher

| February 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

Thirty Five and Going Strong

My grandson’s favorite expression is, “if you snooze, you lose!” I thought of that as I watched the winter San Diego Restaurant Week draw to a close. San Diego Restaurant Week, which takes place twice a year (winter and fall) is both an attraction to tourism and an opportunity for locals to become acquainted with or to experience again some of our county’s best restaurants – at significant savings. Prices have gone up over the years. Now dinner prices range from $20 – $50, depending on where one dines. Many of the popular steakhouses are priced at the top of the range.

Restaurants often create special menus for the week-long event and each menu is prix fixe, fixed price. Most menus are 3-course, with several selections for appetizer, entrée and dessert. Some menus also list options or ala carte items at additional cost.

I took advantage of Restaurant Week to revisit one of my old favorites – The Crab Catcher in La Jolla. The restaurant has been in business for over 35 years, serving meals to several generations of satisfied clientele. The restaurant is really a family affair, owned by Jerry and Jeani Burwell, with a kitchen run by their son, John. Chef John grew up in the business and perfected his chops locally, including a stint at the popular Sushi on The Rocks. Even general manager Jamie Loomis has been there for 17 years.

The restaurant could not be in a nicer location. The building on Prospect Street in La Jolla extends down from street level to Coast Boulevard below. The Crab Catcher is at the bottom level (there is an elevator on the side), permitting comfortable tables and chairs to be set out in the cobblestone courtyard. The bar is in a stand-alone room adjacent to the main restaurant.

The main dining room has an elegant color scheme and a window that looks out to a stunning coastal view. At the right time of day, diners can be treated to colorful sunsets. Seating is uncrowded. Service is attentive and friendly.

As the name suggests, The Crab Catcher is primarily a seafood restaurant. Manager Jamie Loomis informed me that fresh seafood items are flown in daily. Chef John changes the menu every quarter to reflect what is seasonal and running.

The special Restaurant Week menu ($40) offered an aromatic coconut curry lobster soup, a tasty broth enhanced by lemongrass and cilantro. The entrees choices were salmon with winter vegetables, grilled shrimp papparedelle or short ribs (yes, they also serve meat) with garlic whip potato in a roasted shallot demiglace. Included desserts were sorbets, Belgian dark chocolate torte and an amazing paradise pie consisting of macadamia nut ice cream and a chocolate cookie crust topped by warm chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

Side dishes were all ala carte. Lobster and crab leg entrees were available as upgrades.

The regular menu is a delightful roadmap for culinary seafood experience, beginning with outstanding crab cakes, a large portion of crab (not filler) served with roasted tomato, corn, and fennel relish. Salmon entrees come with Shiitake mushroom, smoked bacon and butternut squash risotto. Scallops are arranged on a plate like three large egg yolks surrounding a chutney and potato puree. The dish was flavorful, although the scallops had a slight fishy taste and lacked a firm texture.

Maine lobster and crab legs, each over a pound in size, look amazing in size and are amazing in taste. One becomes the center of attention to surrounding tables when either one is served.

The Crab Catcher serves excellent cuisine, beautifully presented and graciously served.

The Crab Catcher serves excellent cuisine, beautifully presented and graciously served.

On the non-seafood side, filet mignon, New York steak, short ribs and chicken are listed on the menu. The latter is particularly good, parmesan crusted and stuffed with creamy oyster mushroom-savoy spinach and bacon stuffing.

The Crab Catcher serves excellent cuisine, beautifully presented and graciously served. Portions are somewhat small and prices are comparatively high but the setting and quality have built a loyal following over the years. There is a Happy Hour Daily from 3 to 9pm with drink specials and deals on oyster shooters and much more. On Friday and Saturday nights there is live music in our popular Ocean Tapas Bar.

If one hasn’t experienced The Crab Catcher yet, Restaurant Week will return in a few months. But, why wait? It is located at 1298 Prospect Street, La Jolla, 92037. Valet parking is available a few doors down the block. Call (858) 454-9587 for information and reservations.

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Category: Business, Local News

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