[REVIEW] Charley's Crab Palm Beach (Fl) Restaurant Review
-Charley’s Crab belongs to a larger group of about 20 South Beach restaurants (the Muer Seafood Group) and has been considered a Palm Beach institution for years.
-Located moments from the glitzy Worth Avenue strip and taking hundreds of reservations per night, CC is definitely one of the most popular restaurants in Palm Beach.
-Here’s a little interesting nugget of info about the restaurant’s founder, Chuck Muer. Almost 10 years ago, he was sailing in the Bahamas aboard a 40-foot sailboat with his wife and two friends. When a massive storm hit and he didn’t return as scheduled, he was reported as missing at sea. Still to this day, despite a massive search and rescue operation, they have never been able to find the boat or bodies.
-Located just across the road from the Atlantic Ocean, this massive upscale crab shack boasts room upon room of dining tables as well as two bustling bars to boot.
-Absolutely packed on a Saturday night, the ambiance is of course lively (until 9 PM at least), but still manages to feel like a bit of a snooze-fest. This is the kind of buzz you might see at a $3.99 senior’s bingo buffet. No music, just lots of excited chatter.
-The room itself definitely has a country club feel. Light walls, wood ceiling, fireplaces and spacious dark wood tables all make up the easy, non-offensive décor. Speaking of tables, be wary that they are brutally slippery when even the least bit wet. Our server told us a horror story about losing an expensive bottle of wine as it slid onto the floor in front of an entire party of guests. You’ve been warned.
-Demographic wise, expect to see primarily a white-haired crowd, many wearing light coloured suits and a lot of sparkly jewelry. You’ll also likely catch a few of said guests complaining excessively to the staff about everything they possibly think they can. One fellow threw an absolute hissy fit because he was so hot he was sweating through his shirt. Maybe the sweater-vest and the jacket were too much?
-One of the perks of dining at CC is the complimentary valet, which made pulling up in a rainstorm a total breeze.
-Unfortunately, once inside, the service saw a mild hiccup. On time for our 8 PM reservation, there were quite a few parties waiting to be seated despite having booked ahead. With so many couples waiting in the doorway, it did start to get pretty congested and hot, but there wasn’t much more room at the bar with the game playing. After about 15 minutes waiting past our reservation time, we were finally sat at a booth by one of the clearly overworked hostesses running back and forth.
-Thankfully, our pleasant server made up for the wait with his generous hospitality and attention throughout the night. As requested, food items came out 1-2 at a time, the timing was appropriately spaced and the whole meal (including the wait) was a comfortable 2 hours.
-Our water glasses were consistently refilled without asking, cocktails were fairly quick to emerge, and our cutlery and side plates were replenished between courses.
-CC’s International wine list is largely Californian with about 120 or so affordable bottles ($27-325) and around two dozen by the glass ($7-18).
-Even more impressive is the 20 or so cocktails available to try, presented as either Signature Cocktails (original concoctions) or Inspired Classics (creative takes on old favourites). While I can’t honestly say that anything on the menu was truly innovative, it’s not often you see cherry bitters, ginger beer, or lemon grass syrup in Palm Beach.
Red Widow ($12)
Pearl Peach Vodka, St Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Sparkling Wine, Jalapeno Juice
Double Berry Mule ($12)
Russian Standard Platinum Vodka, Fever Tree Ginger Beer, Raspberries, Blackberries
Fleur D’Lis ($10)
Malibu Coconut Rum, Midori Melon Liqueur, DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps, Orange & Pineapple Juices
All three of the cocktails we ordered were delicious, and there were a number more of them on the menu I would have happily tried. Of the three, the Red Widow was my favourite because I loved the balance of the sweet juicy peach with the floral elderflower, the mild heat of the pepper and the gentle sizzle from the sparkling wine. Likewise, the Mule had a nice spicy buzz from the ginger beer that was tempered by the fruity berries and crushed ice. I also adored the simple rum based drink, which reminded me of a tropical getaway vacation. Super fruity, way too easy to drink with just enough acid from the pineapple and orange to cut the sweet.
-Executive Chef Quinn Alexander has compiled a classic seafood and steakhouse menu boasting something to satisfy nearly everybody’s tastes.
-The menu is divided into seafood appetizers, soups and salads, daily fish selections, fish specialties, shellfish, steaks and chicken, toppings, accompaniments, sides and specials.
-Nothing here runs cheap, but then again, when is shellfish in Palm Beach ever a steal?
Assorted Bread with Crab Butter (Complimentary)
Oh boy, I try so hard not to ruin my appetite by eating too much bread, but the tender herb biscuits were so delicious with the sweet crab meat butter.
Crab, Avocado and Mango Stack ($14.99)
Jumbo Lump Crabmeat with Remoulade with Avocado & Mango
A massive portion of everything on the plate. I loved the slightly tangy crab with the bright mango and the creamy avocado, but I wished the avocado and mango had been more thoroughly seasoned. If you ended up getting a bit bite of avocado, it was unfortunately pretty bland. I also thought the dish in general could have used a crispy/ crunchy textural contrast and maybe a little heat laced throughout to liven things up. Regardless, a solid starter that you’ll definitely want to share.
Seared Peppered Ahi Tuna ($13.99)
Served Rare with Tangy Mustard, Ginger and Wasabi
Very tasty tuna that was delicious with the salty soy, the creamy mustard sauce and the crunch of those little fried chips. My only complaint would have been that I thought the fish could have been meatier had it been sliced a little thicker.
Dynamite Scallops ($14.99)
Crab Encrusted Scallops with Basil Oil Drizzle
Oh boy. If you like oysters rockefeller, consider these even tastier. The crab stuffing added a fabulous level of sweetness to balance the rich salty cheesy gratin topping and the refreshing basil oil. Expect to fight over the last one.
Chilled Gazpacho ($6.99, Photographed as a Split Order)
Gazpacho is a Palm Beach staple, and this was a solid version. Perfectly seasoned with lots of fabulous crunchy vegetable textures- exactly how I like it.
Stone Crab Entrée ($50.99)
7 Claws, Mustard Sauce and Parmesan Orzo
Served in a dry-ice platter that smoked for a good five minutes, there is nothing like a fresh plate of stone crab claws. Thankfully, CC does most of the hard work by pre-cracking them into manageable bits so that all I have to do is dig them out of the shell and dip them into the creamy tangy sauce. The parmesan orzo was a passable accompaniment, but certainly could have used a little acid and maybe a little heat to enhance the parmesan coated grains.
Chocolate Truffle Cake ($10.99)
Chocolate Cake with Molten Chocolate Centre, Frangelico Crème Anglaise, Vanilla Ice Cream, Fudge Sauce and Heath Bar Crunch
As you all know, I’m not a chocolate dessert girl, but this is one of their signature items and was truly calling my name. While not the most successful molten lava cake I’ve ever had, I couldn’t pull myself away from its allure. The contrast of the fudgy sticky centre and the dense brownie-like crust was irresistible in its own right but add in a luscious crème anglaise, a cool vanilla ice cream and a satisfying crunch of the crispy candy and I practically licked the plate. A must-order for chocolate lovers and haters, alike.
-For 4 cocktails and 6 dishes, the bill came to $200 including tax and tip, fairly reasonable considering the premium shellfish we ate.
-In general, I can’t claim that Charley’s Crab is really my scene. It’s an older crowd and a standard seafood house menu at Palm Beach elite prices. Having said that, it was probably one of the better meals I’ve had in the city, which means it’s definitely on the regular rotation for my next trip down south. Long story short, if you’re looking for a good quality seafood-themed meal with an extensive menu offering the classics done up with an updated twist, then CC would be a good bet.