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Published May 28th 2022
Stay tuned for the recipe at the bottom. Wicker's Crab Pot is a family-owned business for the past four generations. They specialize in harvesting Virginia blue crab and oysters as well as other fresh seafood. The night we went their grouper was already sold out. Their menu is extensive with appetizers that include a big crab dip, chicken planks, Kent crab bowls, oyster rock, Haley seafood Mac and cheese, Wicker's tuna bites, Buffalo BBQ shrimp, and Big Mom's deviled crabs. They offer a house or Caesar salad and a choice of three soups including she crab soup, we learned that female crabs are smaller and sweeter than male crabs, a Hatteras clam chowder that includes a clam broth clams bacon potatoes carrots and celery, or jambalaya with shrimp chicken Andouille sausage onions Peppers and Cajun Stewed tomatoes topped with rice.
Sandwiches are called "claw-helds," served with hush puppies, a choice of chips, salsa, or potato salad. The choices range from a lump crab cake to flounder to fried soft shell crab or pork barbecue sandwich. Po'boys are served on a toasted sub roll with lettuce tomato and the homemade Chipotle ranch dressing and can be either oysters or shrimp. The Wicker's chicken sandwich is fried or grilled, a blackened tuna sandwich or blackened mahi "steak," cheeseburgers and crab burgers are also available.
The couple next to us was sharing a steam pot and highly recommended it so two in our group got the shrimp and snow crab steam pot. It was a half-pound of steamed large shrimp and a half-pound of snow crab with corn on the cob and seasoned red potatoes. We were really happy to see that it was the sweet white corn that isn't commonly farmed any longer in the upper-middle West of the United States.
The couple shared an even larger steam pot which included a half dozen oysters, a half dozen clams, a half-pound of snow crab, a half-pound large shrimp, corn, and seasoned red potatoes. The seasoned red potatoes were spicy and salty and a great complement to the meal.
Wicker's also gave the option of building your own steam pot for an individual meal or a feast to share. You could choose a base of seasoned red potatoes or steamed broccoli, seasoned fresh corn on the cob or andouille sausage and then choose your proteins which could be the large shrimp, crawfish, seaside oysters, or snow crab, clams, mussels, Bayside oysters, or Dungeness crab, and then season it plain, old Bay, lemon pepper, garlic crab, Cajun, or Indian River crab dust.
You can even buy the crab by the bushel if you like. Their variety of seafood continues with the big raised local flounder dinner, Captain Wicker seafood platter which includes shrimp, scallops, oyster, local flounder and lump crab meat, the oyster dinner, the crab-stuffed shrimp, scallop dinner, shrimp dinner, crab and butter, soft shell dinner, Caroline's crab cakes, crab-stuffed flounder, or Wicker seafood delight which includes she crab soup, Tampa scallops, shrimp, hush puppies and bacon.
Entrees are served with a side salad and include crab meat chicken fried grilled or blackened chicken breast, chicken dinner, or pork barbecue Cajun dirty rice is available in a wrap with your choice or protein. I opted for the blackened tuna tacos that were wrapped and served in flour tortillas served with shredded cabbage, tomato, and their perfectly spiced Chipotle sauce. I chose seasoned potatoes as my side. They were a great complement to my meal and I could've just as easily eaten them for dessert.
Our host scored the last remaining tuna steak in the entire restaurant. It's her go to meal at this restaurant.
As if that weren't enough, the captain's catch service includes hush puppies and choice of plain, branch or old Bay potato chips, slaw or potato salad. They also offer fish and chips which is a cold-water Atlantic cod, or a quarter pound or half pound boat of flounder, shrimp, oyster, or scallops. Their a la carte menu includes flounder, lump crab cake, oyster, scallops, tuna steak, shrimp, soft shell crab, chicken, a dozen hush puppies, and battered cod.
The desserts sounded delicious with banana pudding, carrot cake, Key Lime Pie, and white chocolate chip bread pudding. It was a tough choice, but the pair that shared the steam pot had enough energy for dessert and went with the banana pudding and white chocolate chip bread pudding respectively. They said it was delicious. You'll hear that word a lot as you eat across this city.
The environment of the restaurant is nautical, as you might expect, and very family-oriented. They have fun signs and, outside, places to create your own fun with pictures (stick your head in to become part of the crab). Our server, Tonya was mindful of our need for time to speak and very observant when our drinks needed to be refilled. She took great care of us.
Now, I'll be the first to admit I didn't know you ate soft shell crabs "whole." The shell is soft enough to consume I've now watched a YouTube video on how to prepare the crab. When I saw the scissors cut off the "eyes and face," I thought that was it. But it was like watching a train wreck ... I couldn't look away.
While in Coastal Virginia last week, I was taught the value of the fresh catch. If you choose not to consume them whole, take your seafood market up an ony offer to clean them for you.
Once cleaned, the "meat" offered is bite-size, ready to be breaded. A simple recipe I learned:
place them in a basic egg wash
transfer the pieces into a dry bread mix (ready-made at the grocery store or make your own):
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
add your spices (teaspoon of Old Bay, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, for example)
Deep fry or pan fry
One chef taught me to use 2 tablespoons of butter AND two tablespoons of olive oil in the pan (at least a 1/2 inch in the pan)
Flip each soft shell piece over halfway through to confirm they're equally and evenly crispy.
Pro Tip: If you like extra crispy, invest in a deep fryer.
Once the bites are crisp and brown, drain them on a paper towel and choose your sides. Some popular options include a sweet chili dressing, a creamy tartar sauce, a blue-cheese dip, hot sauce, or to go true southern, add some chow chow ... you'll be amazed at the difference it adds.