Real-Deal Crab Cakes

By: Robin Barr Sussman

Elegant, sumptuous crab cakes -- the star dish for brunch, ladies who lunch or any special occasion meal. Ask three different people which restaurant makes that best you'll get three different answers. Which one takes the cake in Texas? Dig into these golden discs to find out!Elegant, sumptuous crab cakes -- the star dish for brunch, ladies who lunch or any special occasion meal. Ask three different people which restaurant makes that best you'll get three different answers. Which one takes the cake in Texas? Dig into these golden discs to find out!

Creole Magic

Brennan's has a few recipes for crab cakes, but the Jumbo Blue Crabcakes with mirliton (chayote) slaw and sweet corn cream is spectacular. This isn't just a seafood starter; it's more like an ambitious meal. Executive Chef Danny Trace starts with giant, 2-inch crab cakes formed in cookie cutters for perfect symmetry. These are gingerly spiced to retain the spanking fresh blue Gulf crab flavor and cooked in a cast iron pan until just firm. Sweet corn and leek cream sauce (trust us, it's divine) is ladled on the plate and topped with crab cakes and the slaw. In a nutshell, the refreshing claw is a shredded melange of carrots, radicchio, sweet pea shoots and mirliton. Gorgeous.

Southern Luxe

Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes -- Crispy, gold en brown and pan-fried to perfection -- this version at beloved Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen satisfies on many levels. The delicate panko crust exterior provides crunch and a fresh and generous amount of crabmeat while a small amount of binding hold the crab patties together. The kicker is the pool of luscious lick-the-plate butter-lemon sauce the cakes rest on, which is dotted with capers, cooked chopped tomatoes and crawfish pieces -- yes, crawfish. Wow. Even with a generous amount of sauce, sogginess is not an issue and, a mountain of crispy potato strings rounds out the dish. 

Steakhouse Staple

It's just one Crab Cake, but at posh Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, the crab cake is literally the size of a baseball (make that a softball) and lavished with Cajun lobster sauce. The thick and creamy lobster sauce is reminiscent of lobster bisque but highlighted with Cajun Spices. The crab cake is silky, buttery and packed with jumbo lump crab, not filler, and just a little minced red bell pepper and scallion for a hit of flavor. Of all our picks, it's the loosest presentation with the most crab and the list amount of breading. A seafood dish this fine needs an equal partner. Sip the Piper-Heidsieck Champagne or Farrari-Carano chardonnay for a match made in heaven.

Robin Barr Sussman
Author: Robin Barr Sussman