Le Crabe Marteau
16, rue des Acacias, in the 17th Arrondissement. 01 44 09 85 59.
Open Mon–Sat; lunch, noon–2:30 p.m.; dinner, 7:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m.
Paris restaurants can often take themselves a little too seriously. Service can go from brusque to white gloved. Dining rooms can feel stiff or cramped, and plates can seem too artfully crafted to eat. So sometimes it’s nice to let your hair down and have some fun at a restaurant where you can be loud and silly, and even play with your food. All of this is possible at le Crabe Marteau.
As soon as I took one step in le Crabe, I couldn’t help but smile. Fishing nets dangle from the ceiling, life rafts hang off the wall and pictures of large boats surround the dining room. We had a group of 10 so were able to have our nautical experience in a private room upstairs. The table was covered with newspaper and our equipment for the evening—cutting board, crab mallet, bib and empty bucket.
The menu is limited, but you’re here for the crab that comes in fresh daily from Brittany. Having spent nearly a decade in Baltimore eating Maryland steamed crab, I was prepared to spend several hours working my way through a pile of small crabs seasoned with the iconic red Old Bay seasoning. Things are a little different at le Crabe, where I received just one boiled crab, but this was no tiny crustacean. Some can weigh more than two pounds. It does still require some legwork to get to your dinner, but it’s a shared experience you have with your dining companions as you work your way through claws and shells to reveal the succulent, moist meat.
Some in my group were a bit overwhelmed at tackling an entire crab, so a few people ordered the half crab with a side of raw oysters. Everyone was able to indulge in the sides of crusty wheat bread and a wooden bucket filled with whole boiled white potatoes and two different aioli dipping sauces.
After an hour or two of working on our crabs, with shells flying and much laughter, we were ready to throw in the towel, and indulge in a sweet finish to our meal. Both the Paris-Brest and the kouign-amann were a bit too chewy and could have used more sugar to increase the sweetness, but we all still left fully content at the fun we had at dinner.
In a nutshell: For a new and nautical dining experience, head to le Crabe Marteau, where you’ll don a bib and master a mallet while working for your dinner at this fun crab house.
Price check: Crab plates run between 25 and 30 euros each, including side potatoes.
If le Crabe Marteau sounds good, you might also like the seafood at Mercerie Mullot. Read the review.
19, rue de Bréa, in the 6th Arrondissement. 01 43 26 08 06.
Open Tues–Sat, noon–2 p.m. and 7 p.m.–11 p.m.
Le Crabe Marteau