Blackfish in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania had a Cold Water Crab 4 course tasting menu for $49 recently, and given my penchant for ocean crustaceans, I called my foodie friend Judy who was as happy as I to indulge.
I previously enjoyed a lobster-themed tasting menu in January, so my expectations started high. This establishment consistently finds ways to exceed itself.
Course 1. Jonah Crab Salad.
Jonah Crab is an East Coast crab that generally lives in deeper water than Blue Crab. They typically weigh about a pound, have large claws and flaky, sweet meat. In my opinion they taste more defined, like a Dungeness Crab, as compared to the more delicate taste of a Blue Crab – worth trying if you have never had Jonah Crab.
The other fascinating ingredient in this dish is mustard oil (in the right side of the dish). Neither Judy nor I were familiar so we were curious. Mustard oil definitely has a taste, and it seemed to bring out the sweetness in the crab and the melon. It worked, and this dish was an excellent start.
Course 2. Crab and Spaghetti.
I was curious how the sweet and light first course would transition to a pasta and Amatriciana dish. The pasta was bucatini, which is a thicker spaghetti, and the crab in this dish was Blue Crab, both flakes and larger, beautiful chunks as pictured on the right. In my opinion, this dish transitioned well by highlighting the more savory side of the crab meat.
Course 3. Veal Oscar.
We were given the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and rest our palate before our next taste-transition. What an amazing transition it was, finding the happy place after the first and second courses. The veal was tender as it had been slow-poached as a thicker cut vs pounded thin as it is more typically served.
The dish had a generous portion of blue jumbo lump crab meat on top accompanied with a tasteful potatoes puree. The cauliflower fit in wonderfully as did the greens. Absolutely delicious.
Course 4. Mascarpone Cheese Ganache (Desert)
This may have been the best deserts I have ever had – not just at Blackfish but anywhere – compressed strawberries, pistachios, elderflower, and the seductive Mascarpone Ganache poured over the desert at the table. Such a perfect balance of flavors, bordering on addictive. My understanding of compressing strawberries is its a pressure-infusion of juice into the strawberry to intensify the fruit’s flavor.
It is inappropriate in a restaurant such as Blackfish to pick up our plates and just lick them, but the temptation was there.
Wine. Judy and I had a deep discussion on our wine of choice for this dinner, and both agreed that we wanted to go with a balanced red as opposed to a floral white. We narrowed it down to a choice between:
- Bonterra 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon from California (very reasonable price point for an excellent, balanced wine made from organic grapes)
- Quinta Do Vallado 2014 Touriga Nacional from Portugal (also nicely balanced between bergamot and berries, with a long pleasant finish)
We went with the Bonterra which paired wonderfully, and myself having drank the Do Vallado wine just two days ago, it would have worked nicely too.
Bottom line – a truly amazing experience at Blackfish, fresh and sweet crab with adventurous flavors and textures to bring out the best in the crab, not too mention great company and great wine.
I’ll repeat my closing thought from my previous Blackfish post:
Some say they could never afford a place such as this, so they stick with the strip mall chains – Outbacks, PF Changs, Applebee’s, whatever. You may find you are spending maybe $30 a person on food and paying a huge premium on drinks. On the flip side, for $49 you can have an experience such as this. Cut out one chain restaurant visit a month, do the math, go local, enjoy a weeknight out, and of course take pictures of your food.