City Paper is not for tourists
The Dish: Sautéed soft-shell crabs
The Location: Johnny’s Half Shell, 2002 P St. NW, (202) 296-2021
The Price: $24.95
The Skinny: We are, of course, smack dab in the middle of soft-shell crab season, when just about every seafood restaurant in town serves up these succulent, tasty-to-the-last-claw delicacies. I prefer the crust-less crustaceans at Johnny’s Half Shell, John Fulchino and Ann Cashion’s laid-back seafood eatery with the concentrated menu. These two-per-order Chesapeake primes come lightly floured and sautéed in clarified butter, which gives each blue crab a deep amber hue. As if riffing on the classic preparation of steamed hard-shell blue crabs, Cashion serves the soft-shells in an Old Bay-and-basil-infused beurre blanc, which gives the buttery, ever-so-crunchy flesh just the right touch of spice. The accompanying corn pudding was burnt on my recent visit, but, when done properly, undoubtedly adds another rustic flavor to this re-imagining of a surfside favorite.