Seafood doesn’t come much more local than this, as Katy Hanley finds out on the shores of the Teign estuary
26 June 2015
Teignmouth’s Crab Shack is located on the town’s Back Beach. It represents a perfect marriage of place and produce, sitting next to the sand with views of Shaldon, the River Teign and Dartmoor.
The produce is simply amazing. Amanda runs the restaurant, while the crabs are caught by her husband, Rob. He has his own fishing boat and live tanks where the seafood is stored, just a few yards from the Shack. The Crab Shack Deli is just along the beach, so the same fresh produce, and other items, can be bought there.
My husband and I had the sharing plate of olives, bread, oil and dips to start, as we knew that the main course was going to be a feast. For that, I chose the monkfish with a spring vegetable risotto. The dish came with a generous amount of asparagus and fresh herbs in the risotto and I also loved the samphire and wild garlic flowers with which it was beautifully garnished. The perfectly cooked monkfish was a great pairing with the risotto, which had just the right consistency.
My husband chose the lobster seafood platter. Wow! Seafood platters are notoriously showy and large but this was the best one I have ever seen: half a lobster, a whole crab, plenty of prawns, a cup of cockles, three oysters and many whelks. The dish was served on crushed ice with a host of accompaniments: lemon wedges, dips, lots of local bread and butter, shell crackers, picks, grinders of salt and pepper, a bucket for shells, plus a bib and finger bowl. My husband tucked in and, after finishing my monkfish, so did I!
We were not hurried, even though our table was needed in the early evening. And yes, although the chef prepares the shellfish – cracking it in the appropriate places, I did end up flinging a shard of crab shell onto the neighbouring table, as I was fiddling and searching for the remnants of the flesh in a claw.
The restaurant environment is lovely. The (new) chairs are extremely comfy, and nooks and crannies have attractive candles and seaside items displayed. The waiting staff are warm and efficient, quite happy to stop and chat, and they are enthusiastic about the shellfish on offer. There is always a vegetarian and a meat option for anyone in the party who is not a fish or seafood lover.
We really enjoyed the well-executed, homemade pavlova and brownie to finish the meal too.
The Crab Shack is a venue so good that you need to plan in advance. It can be difficult to get a reservation as it’s on the small side (it has enough seating for about 30) and has a great reputation. Weekends in particular get really booked up. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays… but that gives you plenty of time to while away a Sunday afternoon in this relaxed, convivial environment.
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