That is the first sentence of the post I did on the The Crab Cooker, on the Balboa peninsula in Newport Beach, in February of 2009. And it still remains true, so I'm using it again. For every exaltation I throw at restaurants like The Hitching Post II and Green Street Tavern, a fact remains: on a nice day (say, the first day of Memorial Day Weekend) when you beat the crowds and get a good server (some of them are less than attentive) and a fresh skewer of lobster, The Crab Cooker is the single best restaurant in the world.
Is this a matter of opinion? Yes, of course it is. This is my blog and that's my opinion. There is no place I would rather eat than The Crab Cooker. I detailed my history (and my parents' history) with the place in the post 15 months ago, so I will keep this much shorter. More of a photo essay, if you will. The pictures will mostly speak for themselves.
The fresh fish counter. When there is a wait - and there is always a wait, you can grab a shrimp cocktail and a cold beer and sit outside. (After lunch, my parents bought two lobster tails, smoked fish, and some cole slaw and chowder, and the guys behind the counter packed it in ice for them. )
Saying the interior of the restaurant is "quirky" would be a bit of an understatement. The sign on the wall reads "Solid gold ribs from a solid gold whale." I have no idea who comes up with this stuff.
Two cute by half? Perhaps.
Some of the prices change so frequently that it's easier just to write on the menus, I guess.
I have no idea what this means.
When I was a kid I would eat two or three shrimp cocktails as my dinner, as well as a dozen bread sticks and balls, which I also dipped in the cocktail sauce. All of this was just fine with me.
The combination cocktail of crab and shrimp. I have never had a better shrimp cocktail, and I have had hundreds.
My mom's Manhattan clam chowder. I did not try any. Elizabeth got this the first time we ever ate at The Crab Cooker together. She was disappointed because she prefers the New England version and did not realize they serve this kind, however she ate it all and said it was the best Manhattan clam chowder she has ever had.
My dad's smoked fish appetizer. He always gets this; it's possible he has been eating it for more than 40 years. He liked it so much my mom went up to the fish counter and bought the rest of the fish that this piece came from.
My dad ordered the crab legs. He says the portions have gone down, although it still looked like a lot of food to me.
My mom, Elizabeth and I all ordered the "dinner" portion of lobster. It's about 25% larger than the lunch portion. The Crab Cooker threads lobster meat - a lot of meat - onto a skewer and grills it over mesquite charcoal.
Entrees come with two sides, and I always opt to get double cole slaw, because I love it.
Elizabeth got cole slaw and rice, so I took a picture of the rice just in case anyone wants to see what it looks like.
The lobster meat. I hardly used any of my butter because it just isn't necessary; the meat is so tender and sweet. At some point in my life I may have eaten something that I like more than this. But I can't think of what.