In the recesses of everyone’s memory (or at least of mine), there is a hallowed space for moments of satiated gluttony so outrageous that they remain as totems to a meal. Tinged with the context of who was there, the symbolic value of why I had traveled so far, they are most importantly memories of food. Seafood, especially, sticks in my memory more than any other sort of food. Fried clam strips in Kittery, Maine at Bob’s Clam Hut after a day pounding sand at the beaches of York, or family dinner at Boston’s Jumbo Seafood Restaurant after a long trek in from the suburbs. Vast, dizzying spreads of fish, lobster, and crab in Hong Kong’s legendary Lei Yue Mun district, or lunch out on the waterfront with fishing boats puttering around at Lamma Island. These are but a few of the meals I have eaten that I can recount in excruciating detail because I am not well in the head, but quite well in the stomach.
So when a co-worker (Twitter: @akinsdem for relevant news) tipped me off to a restaurant called The Art of Cracker Cooking, with an unlimited seafood and barbecue buffet, I had to see what was there. I was most certainly not disappointed.
This is Art. Here he is on the table.
Here he is in real life.
Authenticity is a slippery word, but this place has it in spades. No pretension (the salt shakers were plastic cups with notches cut into them!), just amazing food. Shrimp, fished out of nearby waters, prepared three ways. Crabcakes with more crab than cake. And a surprising hit: a scallop and mashed potato casserole topped with cheese. All finished with a cookie. For $18, you can eat as much of it as you want, and pile a huge box to take home. My only regret was not taking more of the fried shrimp, thinking that fried foods would not reheat well. This was false.
I never put much stock in decor, and not too much in service when I eat, but I will give extra points for entertainment. You can always trust a chef who rings the dinner bell with a knife. This is what a man who loves his job looks like.
Really. You should go. I know I’ll be back soon.