There seem to be few foods so subject to abuse as the crab cake. It’s certainly not a traditional St. Louis dish, seldom appearing on local menus until perhaps twenty or so years ago. Most of what we see shows crab meat that ends up in shreds (if it didn’t start that way), bready filler and enough seasoning that it’s what the diner tastes, rather than the delicate meat of the beautiful-if-tricky-to-shell crustaceans.
Crab meat, even the most expensive fresh lump variety, is physically delicate and requires the sort of light, minimal handling that, say, a French pastry chef would recognize. It’s difficult to work with, and that’s another reason that less-expensive ‘cakes are less successful.
So we have an expensive, delicate seafood with which to work. But there’s good news for the crab cake aficionado. A friend and I had an order at Riverbend the other night, to split as an appetizer before the gumbo and the softshell crab. They were, in a word, stunning.
First of all, they’re delicate, not held together with the wallpaper paste of bread crumbs and eggishness that bind the hockey puck school of crab cakes. Flat, tender, falling apart at the touch of a fork, they’re the essence of crabby good taste. Gracefully dribbled with some herbed aioli that doesn’t overwhelm the crab, it’s an absolute winner.
Two good-sized ones are $13.99 on the appetizer menu. They’d make a great lunch and leave a little room for some bread pudding.
1059 S. Big Bend, Richmond Heights
Lunch & Dinner Tues.-Sun.
Credit cards: Yes
Wheelchair access: Good
Poor boys and Entrees: $9-$23