Feeling Crabby

Plus: Black Bean Café Opens in Vista

By Eva Moore
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

One of the East Coast’s most delicious native creatures is the crafty, prolific blue crab. Want to eat a whole bunch of them? For the past four years, Southeast Crab Feast has been held in four Southern cities over four consecutive weekends: Raleigh; Columbia, Charlotte and Atlanta. Columbia gets crabs on Saturday, June 21, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Saluda Park, 5605 Bush River Road. Tickets are $29; visit southeastcrabfeast.com to buy them. Proof that this festival is serious? From the festival rules: “Condiments such as personal seafood seasoning, mallet, butter, hot sauce, etc. will be allowed however must be shown to staff upon check-in.”

Not in the mood for a festival, but still itching for crabs? You could always take a trip to the South Carolina coast equipped with some chicken necks or fish heads, a net, and some string or a crab trap. The state Department of Natural Resources has extensive crab information on its website, including crabbing techniques; the gear you’ll need; blue crab biology, including mating and eating habits; and a glossary so you don’t look like an idiot when your fellow crabbers are exclaiming over doublers and 8-inch jimmies; visit dnr.sc.gov and search for “blue crabs.” You’ll need a saltwater fishing license to stick a crab trap in a tidal creek, but if you’re just tossing out a chicken neck on a string, you can skip the license; the DNR website also has all the details on licensure requirements.

If you’re not feeling that adventurous, Palmetto Seafood on Gervais often has live blue crabs for sale. Reach them at 254-2503.

And if even that is too much for you, my squeamish friend — and I can understand that cooking a live crab isn’t everybody’s cup of melted butter — well, I can’t think of any restaurants in Columbia that offer whole blue crabs on the menu. (Tips? Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).) After all, crab picking doesn’t make for a very tidy or time-conscious restaurant experience. So how about you switch to a less plebeian crustacean and check out Rosso Trattoria Italia’s Lobster Mondays, which re-launch this week? Call the restaurant at 787-3949 to find out this week’s lobster dinner deal; as Free Times went to press, Rosso had just wrapped a Lobster Monday featuring a wood-grilled Maine lobster tail with a choice of topping and sides and a glass of wine for $24.

Black Bean Café Opens in Vista

Columbia’s newest restaurant opens this week in the Vista: Black Bean Café is a South Carolina chain specializing in organic, healthy quick-dining options, including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free foods. (The place bills itself as an “energy food restaurant.”) Dishes on offer include salads, a huge assortment of wraps, and, er, “power gyros.” Black Bean also serves breakfast, from bacon and eggs to vegan pancakes. Also on the menu: Cannonborough Soda! That’s the fancy Charleston soda that’s slowly been infiltrating the Columbia market; flavors on offer are Grapefruit and Honey-Basil.

The new eatery is at 701 Gervais St. — the same strip of businesses that includes Le Peep, the UPS Store and Capelli Salon. Reach Black Bean Café at 399-9797.

Speaking of Vista restaurants, Mojito’s Tropical Café is closed for a few weeks to repair water damage.

Let us know what you think: Email food@free-times.com.

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