Peter Morrell goes with a friend to Fancy Crab in London’s Wigmore Street and enjoys the fresh food, relaxed atmosphere and friendly service
For a long overdue catch-up lunch with a friend I was looking for a restaurant that was in the West End and had well-spaced seating. I found the ideal location, Fancy Crab. Its large, airy dining space was the perfect spot. There were roomy booths with banquettes along each wall and comfortable tables in the centre of the space. In 2018 this décor and layout saw Fancy Crab awarded the ‘Best Designed Casual Dining Restaurant’
The menu is based around the red king crab. This species is caught for a limited period each year in the deep, cold waters of the Arctic, so it is a precious commodity. If crab is not your thing then there are a lot of other seafood choices like oyster, squid, scallops, mussels, clams, prawns and octopus. Meat and vegetarian options are available if you are not a fish fanatic.
The a la carte menu is nirvana for fish lovers with a range of appetisers, starters, mains. In addition, there are some very enticing platters, so you get the opportunity to taste lots of different seafood.
As it was around midday we decided to sample the set lunch menu, great value at £16.00 for two courses and £19,00 for three. There were four starter options, four mains and three desserts. To start both the focaccia with burrata and Caesar salad topped with grilled chicken looked imteresting but our eventual choices were guacamole with nachos and mackerel pâté.
When the food arrived we were treated to an intriguing piece of culinary theatre. We watched as my friend’s guacamole was prepared table-side. All of the ingredients, smoked avocado, green tomatoes, coriander, chillies and lime had been assembled in a stone mortar. The server mashed, smashed and generally amalgamated everything until it was well mixed. Unsurprisingly it was eye-catching, fresh and totally delicious.
My mackerel pâté was equally satisfying, it was home-made and had a hint of horseradish to give it an extra lift. The pâté was served with slices of moreish, crusty, sourdough bread.
Options for mains were traditional fish and chips, mussels with fries, a BBQ chicken wrap and a shellfish roll. My companion had the chicken wrap and I chose the roll. Both were excellent, thick slices of chicken covered in a BBQ sauce complemented with tomato and lettuce in the wrap made it very hearty.
By brioche roll was filled with cooked lobster tails, langoustines, Atlantic prawns, picked crab meat and dressed with a home-made sauce. Sprinkled on top were crispy fried onions which were little flavour bombs. The shellfish had that natural essence of the sea which is hard to beat. Another point of note was the brioche roll, spread with avocado it was first-rate.
Both of the mains were served with fries and these had a good crunchy exterior which encased a light yielding centre.
The set lunch included a glass of house wine, beer or soft drink. Our pairing for the meal was the house white, it was Italian, the Castel Firmian Pinot Grigio from Trentino. The bouquet had aromas of flowers and fruit which developed into more tropical flavours on the palate. There was good acidity which made it the perfect match for the food. The finish was clean, fruity and persistent.
More generally the drinks list was well-curated, offering a good range of cocktails wines, beers, spirits and liqueurs. Wines from the old and new worlds were represented and would match the food well. The Spanish Albarino and the Marlborough sauvignon blanc were two good examples.
For dessert, there were temptations like creme brûlée and vanilla pannacotta but we finished with ice creams and sorbets. My friend had a scoop each of orange and lemon sorbet, they both had the most intense taste of the citrus fruits and were an excellent palate cleanser. I had two scoops of ice cream, vanilla and my favourite, salted caramel. These were both rich and creamy and freshly made in house as were the sorbets.
Throughout the meal the service team were friendly and attentive, adding to the enjoyment of the meal.
I can thoroughly recommend Fancy Crab, whether it’s for the great value lunch or an evening a la carte meal. You will find the freshest food, a comfortable atmosphere and great service.
92 Wigmore St,
London W1U 3RD
Tel: 0203 096 9484