Mission Crab Cake: Wilmington
Big Fish, Deep Blue, Feby’s, Firestone, Harry’s and Iron Hill
Big Fish Grill’s broiled Chesapeake Bay jumbo lump crab cakes are served with homemade coleslaw, tartar sauce and a choice of one side dish.
The cakes at Deep Blue in Wilmington are served with scallion red quinoa and parsley vinaigrette.
Big Fish Grill on the Riverfront | Wilmington
Homemade crab imperial sauce lends ample richness and body to the crab cakes ($23.95) and eliminates the need for breadcrumb binding. Folded carefully into lump crabmeat, the velvety sauce joins with a house-seasoning blend—a mix that includes salt, pepper, onion, garlic and Old Bay—to form the 3.5-ounce cakes. Broiled to golden-brown bliss, they come with traditional tartar sauce and countrified sides like succotash, stewed tomatoes or sweet-potato mashers. 720 Justison St., Wilmington, 652-3474, bigfishriverfront.com
Deep Blue Bar & Grill | Wilmington
Just a dash of peppery Sriracha sauce furnishes Deep Blue’s 3-ounce crab cakes with a hint of firepower. It’s one of few surprises in chef Patrick Bradley’s otherwise straightforward recipe, which calls for jumbo lump meat and traditional crab-cake building materials like lemon, mayo and Old Bay. The sautéed cakes ($28) earn their high-end stripes through their accompaniments: red quinoa fluffed with sweet corn and scallions and a swoosh of lemony parsley vinaigrette. 111 W. 11th St., Wilmington, 777-2040, deepbluebarandgrill.com.
Feby’s Fishery | Wilmington
Fried or grilled on a flattop, Feby’s lightly breaded 6-ounce crab cake reflects its fish-house philosophy—that is, acquiring the freshest, fattest and most flavorful product available. For the traditional, Maryland-style cakes ($25), built from jumbo lump and backfin crabmeat, Feby’s relies on crab from the Gulf Coast legends at Junior Barbour’s Seafood in Bayou La Batre, Ala. With simple seasonings and mayo, the cake speaks volumes. Go for coleslaw and fries on the side. 3701 Lancaster Pike, Wilmington, 998-9501, febysfishery.com.
Firestone Roasting House | Wilmington
When brothers Norman and Eric Sugrue and their Big Fish Restaurant Group introduced the riverfront pizza joint and nightspot in 2010, their heralded crab cakes were a welcome part of the package. “Delawareans are educated about crab cakes,” says executive chef Jim Berman. “And there is no masquerading an inferior product.” Grab a 4-ounce cake between a poppy-seed brioche with a dollop of dill-spiked tartar ($13), find a patty stuffed inside roasted salmon ($28), or sample miniature “baby cakes” ($12) with creamy lobster sauce. 110 S. West St., Wilmington, 658-6626, firestoneriverfront.com.
Harry’s Seafood Grill | Wilmington
The crab cakes at Harry’s are chock-full of jumbo lump and colossal lump crabmeat. The former joins the binding ingredients—along with lemon, Worcestershire sauce and Old Bay—while the latter is gently folded in, creating a crab-on-crab pileup presented as two 4-ounce cakes ($29.50). Broiled to light brown, the cakes tumble apart when pierced with a fork and into roasted garlic aïoli and spicy tomato fondue sided with arugula, fingerling chips and shaved fennel. 101 S. Market St., Wilm-ington, 777-1500, harryshospitalitygroup.com.
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant | Various locations
The medal-winning brewpub extends its hand-crafted approach to its Eastern Shore crab cake ($24.95), which is seasoned from the inside-out using smashed saltine crackers and is carefully formed with a metal scoop. Baked to preserve tenderness and the sanctity of the jumbo- and super-lump meat, the 5-ounce cakes (a dinner portion includes two) receive a schmear of creamy mustard sauce and are served with Old Bay fries. Various locations, including 147 E. Main St., Newark, 266-9000; 620 Justison St., Wilmington, 472-2739, ironhillbrewery.com.