Portland, OR – The Crab Bowl


Crab Bowl, Portland, OR

Crab Bowl, Portland, OR

Finding a good burger is always a treat; finding one in the most unlikely of locations is a double delight!

Saturday Mrs. BurgerDogBoy and I were out on some of the last minute holiday rounds; stop at a thrift store for ugly sweaters for the Yelp party (SCORE!), Target, and then scooting home, I suggested we delay our return in favor of lunch out. When she asked “where,” I replied “Crab Bowl” which is kind of an inside joke with us, it’s another place we have driven by thousands of times, and never stopped in.  It’s on Barbur in SW PDX.

So off to Crab Bowl we went. She pulled into a parking slot and said “is it open?” The open sign was on, but the joint was dark and devoid of any activity. I said “I’ll check,” and went to try the door, fulling expecting it to be locked. But it wasn’t. I went in, yelled “hellooooooooooooo” (in my best “Tigger’ voice), and there was no reply. There was a light on in the kitchen, so I checked that out, as well. I went to the stairwell, and started upstairs, and did the Tigger call again. A woman’s voice answered “can I help you,” and I heard her start down the stairs.

When I finally spied her, I asked if they were open, and she replied “sure, sit anywhere.”

I went to open the front door and give the OK sign to Mrs. BDB, who came in.

We sat in a booth by the window, and surveyed the room. It’s chock a block full of excess furniture, mostly in the memoralbilia genre. Old radios and such, an ancient Singer sewing machine. They are either in the process of redecorating, moving in, or moving out. There were no lights on in the dining room, and it was chilly – tho a small gas fireplace in the corner had been turned on.

The woman brought menues and took our drink order. We perused the menu and lingered for a moment over the Crab Bowl – a melange of seafood, at $25 (add $2 to share), before Mrs. BDB chose the Maryland Crab Cakes with smash, and I opted for the burger, which had some superlative attached to the description, as well as “hand-formed patty.”

The woman busied herself in the kitchen as well as making a phone call, apparently seeking some guidance in preparing our food. About ten minutes later, a car pulled up in front, and a man got out, entered the restaurant, greeted us, and said “I’ll get the lights on and get you some eat.”

Our drinks arrived, an iced tea for Mrs BDB and a fountain Diet Coke for me.

Hustle and bustle continued behind the scenes in the kitchen, it would appear to the non-informed (like me), that the cooking was to be a team effort. Either the woman was not one of the regular cooks, or we had chosen two items she didn’t know how to prep.

I’m guessing it took about 40 minutes for our food to arrive.   The man would periodically walk out and make small talk with us, mostly about the various antiques in the room.  I inquired specifically about a 1950s vintage AMI jukebox, a subject that is of interest to me.

We really had zero expectations, based on our experience so far, in the restaurant.   But guess what?  We were blown away by the prep, quality, taste, and aesthetics of the presentation.     The crab cakes were crab meaty, the real smash astonishingly creamy, and some steamed vegetables added a nice touch to Mrs. BDB’s selection.

The burger was pretty, hand-formed as promised, tasty, and smothered with Tillamook cheddar and a couple of amply thick slabs of bacon.  It was complimented by a tab of mayo, lettuce and tomatoes, a good pickle spear, a pepper, and an orange wedge rested on the plate, as well as what the menu called “English fries”, I’ve more commonly seem them called “cottage fries”, or “home fries“,  elsewhere, crisp, thick slices of whole potato.  I like cottage/home/English fries as much as tater tots, and these I dug.

The meat patty was tasty in its own right.   I liked it.  Ultimately I dug being the only customers.  In the process of writing this post, I looked at a lot of other online reviews from over the past several years, and they are certainly inconsistent.  But that follows the old adage of “opinions are like xxxholes, everybody has one.”   As do I.   One can take any experience and find ways to nitpick how it was to them, and you have certainly seen me do that as well.

But as for Crab Bowl?  I liked it.

Crab Bowl, Bacon Cheeseburger

Crab Bowl, Bacon Cheeseburger


Crab Bowl on Urbanspoon

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