Crab Cake at Restaurant E18teen in Ottawa
I became quite interested in Crab Cakes after seeing just how much they can vary in style from place to place and restaurant to restaurant. As such, I really enjoy sampling them whenever I can so that I can contrast the various types in terms of their taste, texture and general quality. I was very surprised, then, when the Crab Cake at the high-end Restaurant E18teen in Ottawa turned out to be very poor indeed.
The dish pictured above appeared on the Appetizer section of E18teen’s menu as ‘PEI Crab Cake’, and described it as being served with a ‘celery dill aioli and bitter greens’. I am not sure what the ‘PEI’ meant in the name as Prince Edward Island is well known for it’s Lobster and Oysters, but not for any significant Crab fishery. I also didn’t see anything about this dish that suggested a ‘PEI style’ exactly, so can only assume that the Chef thought adding PEI to the title would be attractive to a Central Canadian clientele.
Now the sauce here was very nice. It was delicately flavored, with just a faint hint of dill, and was a pretty good choice as an accompaniment to Crab. The ‘Bitter Greens’ however, were just awful. They were certainly bitter, as advertised, but the bitterness actually rose to the level of being acrid. I am not sure exactly what vegetation was included here (Wormwood and Hemlock, possibly), but I only managed two forkfuls before giving up on it.
The Crab Cake itself was also a disappointment. It was certainly edible, but had little else to commend it. The crab was very finely minced and had a ‘pasty’ texture, while the coating was far too thick and was cooked to the point of being overdone and hard. There was no sweet taste to the meat, which, as I mentioned in my review of the Crab Cakes at Salty’s, is the usual result of to finely mincing or processing the meat.
I grant you, Crab Cakes are not an easy thing to make, and a decent preparation is the hallmark of a good seafood restaurant in much the same way as a good Har Gow is a benchmark for Dim Sum quality. That being said, a decent Crab Cake ought not to be beyond the skill of the average Chef, so it was very disappointing that the Crab Cake at E18teen was so dismally amateurish.