The Hideaway

185 Duane Street
New York, NY 10013
Hideaway on Urbanspoon

Whenever I think of Memorial Day weekend, I always think of Maryland Blue Crabs with tons of Old Bay.  So, when I used to live in NYC, I was intent on finding a place that served them so about six years ago I found the Hideaway in TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal).  This weekend, I was still thinking of Maryland Blue Crabs and I was coincidentally back in NYC.  I had called the Hideaway on the Friday before I left for the weekend and they were still doing the same old Blue Crabs.  We decided to have a Sunday Funday which, of course, included the Hideaway.

Ginger Shandi
We started the day with a few drinks at The Wren.  Well, maybe more than a few but it was good to see that the Wren was still a reliable place to have a good time and a drink (okay, so it's only been a month) and it was still surprisingly easy to get a nice table on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  We only got a few hours in trying to sample the widest variety of drinks from The Wren since the Hideaway starts serving crabs at 5 PM and we didn't want to be late, just in case they run out of crabs.

If you're not careful, you may miss the narrow bar located on a cobblestone sides street in a neighborhood full of great restaurants.  If I didn't know that they served crabs on Sundays and Mondays during the summer, I probably would've never discovered this place.  But, they do serve crabs and it's why they are one of my favorite places in the city.  We managed to patch together a party of eight with several blue crab virgins.  I grew up on Maryland style crabs and I love the melding of Old Bay seasoning and steamed crabs but what I liked best was the ability of a crab feast to instantly create a good time which is made better with the more people that show up.  This is exactly what we had on this day.

Old Bay
Now, a good crab feast is nothing without some good drinks. They had some Sixpoint Sweet Action beer on tap so I started with that.  But, a good friend of mine had been telling about pickle back shots all week since she had some last Sunday and convinced me to try a Jameson's pickle back.  A pickle back is a shot of straight alcohol chased by a shot of pickle juice.  Yeah.  You should read that again.  I had the same reaction.  She promised me the point of the pickle juice was that it would cut the aftertaste of the alcohol and the therefore suppress any gag reflex (which I'm pretty certain to have with Jameson's).  I decided to humor her and color me a convert.  It's very similar to taking salt after a shot of tequila but the effect is about 1,000 times stronger.  We decided to get a vodka one for the rest of the table and it set a good pace for the night.

We initially ordered 2 dozen jumbo crabs and a couple sides of corn on the cob.  The corn on the cob was lathered with butter and cooked perfectly so that the kernels practically fell off the cob and the sweetness of the corn came singing through.  I use the corn as an interlude for the next crab and usually dip it in Old Bay seasoning to keep a consistent flavor profile throughout the whole meal.  If you haven't had Old Bay before then you should definitely go out and get some now as I consider it a kitchen staple.  It's a wonderful spice blend that will remind you of a mix of paprika, chili powder, pepper, salt, garlic and a little mustard powder. It's everywhere you go in Maryland and a very versatile spice for anything you want to add some kick to.

The other reason we got there early besides the fear of them running out of crabs was that we wanted to be able to order jumbo crabs.  They have a choice of large or jumbo crabs and the difference in size is noticeable and since eating crabs is all about picking out as much meat as possible in every nook and cranny of the crab then the bigger the crab, the more meat you'll be able to pick out and eat.  My preference has always been jumbos especially for those new to the crab eating experience since only the most hardcore of crab eaters (popularly know as Marylanders) have the patience to pick through large and mediums for a full meal.

The Hideaway was smart enough to deliver the crabs in two batches so that the second dozen would still be steaming hot when we got to them.  The process of steaming crabs is very simple.  You put them in a big ass steamer and heap as much Old Bay as possible on top of them.  I think they get theirs cooked already from Maryland (yes, they are flown in) and all they do is get them steaming hot again.  They come in same day as they're caught so the crabs are fresh.  These particular jumbos were as big as I've seen in a few years considering the crab population has been down in the Chesapeake Bay and they were properly liberal with the Old Bay that I felt like I was chowing down on the Eastern Shore complete with paper on the tables and mallets.  The crabs were steamed perfectly with tons of sweet meat that you dipped in the Old Bay to give you some heat and tang.  There really isn't anything better than food that you tie back to some of your greatest memories.

We ended up needing to order another half dozen crabs which seemed to go faster than the pickle back shots.  We decided to end the meal with a couple orders of Key Lime Pie and I'm pretty sure the pie wasn't made at the restaurant and wasn't even very good or at least not on par with the pie we had at RedFarm on Friday night.  But, that didn't matter.  The pie had a thick layer of whipped cream on top and a somewhat crumbly crust.  The key lime filling was more creamy than limey (ugh) so there wasn't too much of the customary tartness that you look for.  But, the pie hit the trick since all we were looking for were the appropriate sweet flavors.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend getting dessert here but if you need the sweetness then this will do.  The Hideaway does have a regular menu and I seem to remember that they made pretty quality pub food if you want a bite to eat other than crabs.  I don't know why you wouldn't order the crabs but everyone has their quirks.

Frying Pan on Urbanspoon

We went on to continue the night at the Frying Pan which is an old lightship moored Pier 66 (26th and 12th) on the Hudson River.  It's been converted to a bar that sells typical pub fare and drinks.  For some reason we ordered some more fries, hot dogs and burgers which were all pretty average but all were pretty tasty.  I don't think it mattered where we went that night though.  The evening turned out to be a great celebration of friends with lots of really good conversation (some of which I can't print).  While this blog has primarily been about food, this evening typifies what I always look for in an experience.  The food was remarkable and I don't think I've had crabs that good in a very long time.  They weren't the main attraction though.  Starting with the afternoon at The Wren, it was less about what I was eating and more about who I was with.  I think we all got a little closer and I was reminded that food was just a reason to get together and we can never have enough of those reasons.


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