May 02, 2018 11:42AM
Walking into The Crab Trap is like walking into my childhood. Everything I remember about being a kid in Fernandina Beach is on the wall in the dining room. Opened on Shrimp Festival weekend in 1979, The Crab Trap has become a Fernandina institution. Through the years, the Germano family has maintained and nurtured a straight-ahead seafood house, while delighting the taste buds of even the most discerning clients. They have also done wonderful things with the bar and dining space upstairs, enabling guests to look out over the Amelia River and enjoy the sunset with an ice-cold adult beverage from the air-conditioned comfort of their barstool. Over the years, when family and friends came to town, they wanted to eat seafood and they wanted to do it downtown, and what better spot than the Crab Trap to accommodate them, whether with a party of two or twenty. On a recent night, I joined U.S. Army veteran, Fort Clinch Park Ranger, and my brother-in-law, Jason Allgood, at The Crab Trap for dinner. Jason retired from the Army as a Sergeant First Class, having served three tours in Afghanistan and been stationed around the globe before bringing his family home to Fernandina Beach. Like so many others, he couldn’t wait to enjoy some of what we are so famous for here: seafood. Our meal started off with an order of Peel n’ Eat Shrimp. Cooked simply in salted water with only a hint of spice, the shrimp were sweet, and most importantly, not over-cooked. Shrimp only take a couple of minutes in simmering water to be perfect. A distracted chef can quickly turn our local bounty into rubber bands. These shrimp were perfect, easy to peel, and just right with the house-made cocktail sauce. Along with our starter, we enjoyed an ice-cold Bud Light and a Florida Cracker, a Belgian-style white ale from Cigar City Brewing Company in Tampa. Its crisp flavor and citrus finish were perfect for our plate of peel n’ eats. For our entrees, Jason enjoyed Grouper Stuffed with Crab, finished with a creamy butter sauce, and I went with a local classic, the Crabber’s Delight. I ordered the dish blackened, and it arrived overflowing with oysters, fish, shrimp, and devilled crab. We both ordered a baked potato, but other traditional sides are always available. The grouper was flaky and light, just as it should be, and although it was blackened, my platter was mild and cooked to perfection. For dessert, I ordered a piece of the Salted Caramel Cake. If you have a sweet tooth, this should take care of it for a while. Not being a fan of sweets, Jason left me to my own devices. The cake was moist and rich, and drizzled with a salted caramel sauce. There is so much more to get into at The Crab Trap, from daily happy hour specials to trivia nights and a dynamite lunch menu. They make it easy to enjoy it all, as they are open seven days a week for dinner and for lunch from Wednesday through Sunday. The Crab Trap restaurant is located at 31 N. 2nd Street in downtown Fernandina Beach.