Places To Eat In London: Fancy Crab, Marylebone
Sometimes at lunch, you just get lucky. Fancy Crab in Marylebone has been on ‘the list’ ever since I read about it on Mehreen’s blog, and Kelly and I decided that it would be the perfect spot for a girls lunch out before she moved away from the city. What we expected was some delicious, fresh seafood. What we did not expect was to be told that because they were celebrating their new menu, that day every single item was going to be half price. We checked, and the offer really did include every single item. So, obviously we ordered the FC Deluxe Tower: an amazing, tiered mountain of every single seafood item you can think of, which in fact had never, ever been ordered in the restaurant before. Usually coming in at £100, this is celebration eating at its finest.
The dining room is sleek without being stuffy, and at the back you can see the massive seafood counter with all of the crustaceans on ice. It serves the double purpose of looking impressive, and letting you know what you’re eating! To go with our seafood mountain Kelly ordered a glass of white wine, and I had the Crémant. It has become the ‘it’ sparkling wine of choice for 2018, but I’ve always loved it with fresh shellfish; it’s my go to drink of choice with my Christmas Cancale oysters when I’m in Brittany!
Shall we start from the top? Before we even get to layers you’ll find a julep cup of impossibly sweet and juicy Scottish langoustines (also known as Norway lobster, Dublin Bay prawns or scampi, depending where in the world you’re reading this from!) At this point I think I also want to drop in a little word of advice about Fancy Crab. There are some places in London where crustaceans stands/ Fruits de Mer come in such a way where you just grab and eat. Excellent. Now this is not a complaint, as I personally love getting my hands dirty for this sort of thing, but Fancy Crab is not one of them; while I dove straight in, Kelly did not know how exactly to use the tools offered to open up something like a langoustine, so lunch also turned into me giving a mini masterclass! Be sure to take a friend who knows the ropes if it is your first time with this sort of thing! These are delicious life skills that will suit you well on French holidays!
The next layer was home to half a lobster, a jar of Bloody Mary sauce, a scallop and corn ceviche, a couple of oysters (two tempura and two plain) and an active charcoal cracker topped with Asian flavours and seafood morsels (all of the fresh seafood at Fancy Crab has an Asian – typically Japanese/ Korean – twist). I passed the cracker off to Kelly – I really don’t like wasabi, but we both loved the fresh, bright and tender ceviche; it’s on the main menu, so that is one to order. The oysters were lovely, bright and fresh, and the tempura was delicious (and I’m not usually one to want my oyster fried and returned to its shell), and the lobster meaty (though, pro that I am, they needed to score the claw a little more because getting meat out of that was a mission!) The Bloody Mary sauce was also my favourite of those on offer, but I’m that person who would be over the moon to receive one of those loaded ones stuffed with shell on prawns and crab claws!
The bottom tier came stuffed with fresh, cold shell on prawns (king and regular), mussels, razor clams, cockles and clams (a few more small, British shellfish were mentioned on the menu but did not arrive – not that we were complaining with the sheer amount of food – perhaps a seasonal thing?) all of which were beautifully cooked and sweet with the sea, along with a fish-sauce flavoured Asian dipping sauce I could not quite put my finger on and swung backwards and forwards on depending on what I was dipping in it, and some squid ink which I honestly did not like at all, and think ought to be saved for pasta! A special shout out needs to go to the super sweet baby prawns (sometimes called crevettes) which were some of the best I’ve had in ages, the mussels which are usually chewy and flavourless served like this but were lovely here, and the razor clams, a first for me served cold, which were impossibly tended and full of their unique flavour.
On the bottom tier we also had crab claws; fresh, generous and sweet. However, they highlighted my one regret about out lunch at Fancy Crab. As you can probably tell from the name, Fancy Crab specialises in red king crab, every single piece of which is served any way you could think of. Before we found out about the 50% off and went all in, this is what I’d planned on trying as it looked and sounded utterly fantastic; perhaps one for a return visit? As such an indulgence I’d recommend ordering one of their smaller seafood towers for one, saving this one for a special occasion (I suggested to Kelly that she name her blog post ‘Where to eat shellfish in London if it’s your birthday’ as she has a less ocd way of naming her posts than I), or perhaps splitting it between 3 or 4 instead of two, with plenty of sides.
Speaking of sides, we went for just one: the triple cooked chips with truffle and nori. Now, I’m only going to say this once: order these. I usually have a lot of beef with triple cooked chips, and truffle fries in general. Triple cooked usually means way too crunchy so they’ve absorbed loads of the cooking grease, and truffle usually means much pricier on the menu but with a barely discernible, extra flavour. Not these. These are wonderfully crisp on the outside and lovely and fluffy on the inside, with a really rich, indulgent taste. Okay, I’ll say it again. With whatever else you’re ordering, get a side of the triple cooked truffle nori chips.
While we ate a literal mountain of seafood, we barely scratched the surface of Fancy Crab. While usually when anyone asks me where to go in London for fresh seafood and shellfish I tell them to head to a Wright Brothers, but this time my advice has changed; if you want to try something fresh, excited and new where you can still guarantee the crustaceans, service, and wine list are top notch, you need to put Fancy Crab at the top of your list.