"Ugh." I thought as the city of Rockledge popped up as the next destination. It's not that I dislike the city, it's fine, it's just not known as a foodie destination, but ya never know where one might find a "hidden gem." In this case, I was headed up to dine at Autumn's Crab. As I purposely keep my self in the dark when it comes to places I am not familiar with in order to give an unfettered food review, I didn't know what to expect when I got there, but the dingy little strip mall in which it was located did not inspire a feeling of optimism on my part, nor that of my discerning taste buds.
I was taken aback upon entering as the interior is not only charming but clean, brightly lit and exuded a sense of friendliness. While the decor was done in the ever popular Space Coast restaurant sea theme, it was done with decorum and came off, as quite suave. I also noticed that out of about 100 chairs, there was only one other table of 4 in the joint. Bad sign, or was I just ahead of the lunch rush? Time will tell. I also realized that this was owned by a Chinese family and I was highly interested to see how Asian influence translates to classic American cuisine.
Taking a seat and perusing the menu handed to me, my interest was peaked even further upon seeing the selections. Traditional American Crustacean grub all around! With an extensive menu of crabs, clams, lobsters, shrimp, mussels, etc. It certainly caused my mouth to begin to water just a tad. Making up my mind, I placed my menu down and from across the room a server moved like lightning and lasered in on me to take my order. I was duly impressed by her awareness. Her name was Danielle and she was nice, personable, knowledgeable and Joanne on the spot throughout the whole dining experience. Kudos, Danielle! I placed an order of a combo of Manila Clams in their Autumn's Sauce, Lobster tail in their house Cajun, an order of Dungeness Crab and a sausage.
"Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day, you fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way..." Why was I humming a Pink Floyd tune, because after checking my watch and noticing there was still only 4 other patrons here, I noticed I had been waiting for my meal for 31 minutes (yes, I set a timer. Every time). Starting to become concerned that perhaps the kitchen crew was a no show or on strike, I was about to inquire when I saw Danielle hurry forth with my food. As at this point I was extremely hungry, I dove right into the Manila Clams in Autumn's Sauce. Wow. Was this delicious! The clams were steamed to perfection and the sauce was outstanding in every way. It was complex, extremely flavorful and complimented the clams perfectly. Sadly, I had to hold myself to just a few for the complete taste experience and move on to the next item to be reviewed, the Lobster.
The tail was sweet, succulent, steamed correctly and tasted very fresh. The only drawback with the Lobster was the house Cajun sauce. It wasn't all that bad, just nowhere near the bar set by the sauce I had with the clams (Autumn's). The Cajun sauce hit the palate flat and left with nary a how do you do to my taste buds. Now, if you didn't know, I absolutely love crab. All kinds served all different ways. As with all things edible, crab also has a gradation when it comes to quality. When it comes to Crab I think we can all agree that King Crab is just that, the King and at the top of the tasty scale, while Dungeness falls somewhere below Blue and above Peekytoes. This Dungeness crab, however, was exceptional. It just proves the point I have been making this whole time. If you have someone who knows what they are doing in the kitchen, even sub-par ingredients can be turned into a gastronomical masterpiece. The crab tasted so fresh that I thought they might have been caught that morning (which would explain the 31-minute wait for my food).
Turning my implements of animal destruction toward the sausage, I prepared myself for the last taste test of Autumn's Crab. The sausage, while nothing spectacular, was enjoyable and actually a very nice finish to the seafood previously dined upon. It was grilled to the perfect doneness, flavorful and not too greasy as some are. I would be remiss if I didn't at least throw out a nominal mention to the sides of grilled corn and sliced potatoes accompanying my combo. The corn was deliciously seasoned and grilled to the correct amount of sweetness and crispness one expects of grilled sweet corn. The potatoes were certainly boiled to a remarkable state of tenderness, just on the cusp of breaking apart from the fork piercing, but holding together enough to be popped in my mouth in one piece. Masterfully, done kitchen crew, masterfully done.
The Big Boy says, "some things are worth the wait and the food at Autumn's Crab certainly exemplifies that sentiment!" #iamthebigboy #bigboydiningout