One thing about Crab Corner is indisputable, and that's that it doesn't stand on ceremony.
You want a beer? The bottle will be plunked on the table; be grateful the cap has been removed. If you're reckless enough to order wine in this decidedly beer-and-elbows kind of place, you'll get a little airline-style bottle and a plastic cup (a footed cup, but plastic nonetheless -- which at least doesn't have much effect on the wine). Get the specialty of the house and they'll put down a sheet of brown paper, hand you a hammer and a bucket (both for the crabs, but on opposite ends of the process) and slide the hot crabs onto the table; you're on your own after that. The menu lists appetizers, but the one we ordered was the last thing to come out of the kitchen.
As for the crabs, they usually come in four sizes, although the smallest was out on the evening of our visit. They're officially priced by the dozen, but our waiter pointed out that we could order as many as we wanted, so we ended up with three large (the second-largest). They're market-priced, which was $5.50 each, or $16.50 for our three.
So how were they? Great, as you'd expect from a restaurant operated by a wholesaler that specializes in Maryland seafood. The crabs had been cooked with J.O. seasoning, which hails from Baltimore and has a lot more personality than the better-known (and somewhat staid) Old Bay. The meat was succulent but, in the way of all crabs, not plentiful. We picked and picked but we weren't as hard-core as the former Marylanders at the next table, who sucked the shells to get every morsel.
Well, maybe I shouldn't say in the way of all crabs, because when we walked in, we were jazzed to see that the blackboard listed stone crabs, by then just a few days out of season. Those are not only really sweet, but really meaty. Unfortunately, the restaurant was really out of them. So mussels it was ($11.95), and they were good mussels, fresh and mild, served with a garlic butter and, at a 1-pound serving, so plentiful that we couldn't finish them.
The aforementioned (and tardy) appetizer of mini crabcakes ($8.95 for four, $16.95 for eight) were very good, with respectably sized chunks of crab and little in the way of filler. Our serving of four was more than enough, and next time we'd consider a crabcake entree, so tasty (and labor-free) were they.
Which brings us to another subject. Yes, there's a crabcake platter, as well as a number of other platters including soft-shell crabs, fried shrimp and fried oysters. And the menu notes that those come with two side dishes each.
Accordingly, we ordered the sweet-potato tots, hush puppies, potato salad and beer-battered onion rings. It wasn't until we got our check that we realized that the other parts of the menu don't include side dishes, so they were $1.95 each.
Mimi's Homemade Potato Salad did indeed taste homemade and was quite good, creamy and with a touch of mustard. The skinny rings (that's a good thing) were crisp and punchy. The hush puppies and sweet-potato tots were just OK, though, and seemed to owe more to Clarence Birdseye than anybody's grandmother. The price for them was reasonable enough, but you'll want to pay attention.
Service throughout was OK. Our waiter seemed a little confused in the beginning, but that went away as things progressed, and another guy brought the food whenever he was busy.
The decor has Ravens and Terrapins memorabilia and lots of black, gold and red. It's simple, but appealing.
Unless, of course, you're a Virginia fan.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at 383-0474 or email her at hrinella@ reviewjournal.com.