By Dylan Bailey
The Crab Trap, at 31 N. 2nd St., was long a staple in Fernandina’s historic district. After the loss of the original owner, the restaurant went dormant until Jon Anderson took over and remodeled it. You may know him from other eateries in the area like Arte Pizza.
The Crab Trap officially reopened in July 2022 and I had the chance to stop by and try some of their revamped items.
I went to The Crab Trap on Friday around 2:00 p.m., with a friend, to sample their updated menu. I had never been since they’d reopened, so I was chomping at the bit to see what had changed since the restaurant had shut down a few years ago.
The Crab Trap is nestled right off the main section of Centre Street, close to the miniature golf course and Arte Pizza. The building stands tall against the thin street and makes its presence boldly known with its iconic crab sign.
If I were visiting the island for the first time, this would be one of the restaurants I’d find myself drawn to. You’re right next to all the shops on Centre Street and within walking distance of the pier. It’s a fantastic spot.
Entering the establishment was an absolute delight. The nautical decor was in full swing and truly hammered home that I was dining on an island. A giant replica of a swordfish hung over a few of the tables, which was the first thing that caught my eye.
The beautiful inlaid brick and wood flooring were next up on the list of eye candy that greeted me. And one of the waitresses told me that while redecorating, the owners kept the original brick and flooring, which dates all the way back to 1876.
There’s a fully stocked bar area inside, as well, if that’s your style. But I decided to sit at one of the tables close to the swordfish, so I could get a better look at it while I had my food.
The menu is a wonderful concoction of ingredients, with a heavy emphasis on seafood. But if you’re not interested in seafood, fear not, there’s something here for you too. From crab cakes, and smoked fish dip, to pork chops and steaks, The Crab Trap casts its net wide.
The appetizers immediately caught my eye. Peel ‘n eat shrimp, tuna tataki, fried calamari, blue cheese steak bites and their seafood tower all looked and sounded wonderfully appetizing. Their soups were also appealing, as the restaurant leaned heavily into its roots and offered a crab soup, as well as a lobster bisque.
If you want the true island seafood experience, The Crab Trap is more than happy to offer it. As I flipped the menu to its backside, there was a large list of extravagant options – from a seafood pie that consists of cold water lobster, local shrimp, and jumbo lump crab – to their crab smoked mac ‘n cheese, which also features jumbo lump crab but adds smoked Gouda, cavatappi, bacon lardons, and jalapenos.
And if you really want to take it up a notch, they also have a one-pound crab dinner which lets you choose from four different types (snow crab, Dungeness crab, king crab, and soft shell crab) that comes with a loaded potato, house-made cole slaw, and two hush puppies.
I ordered the fried calamari which came with calamari rings, banana peppers, and a sweet Thai chili for dipping. I’ve tried a lot of different calamari dishes, and this was easily my favorite. The calamari itself was cooked flawlessly, and the banana peppers offered a sweet, but spicy zest. However, the true star of the show was the sweet Thai chili. The flavor of it, mixed with the calamari, was easily something I could order regularly.
For the entree, I decided to go with their 2nd Street Tacos, which I got with shrimp and their house fries. My friend decided to try the Aloha Burger and opted for the sweet potato fries.
Starting off with the tacos, they were phenomenal. Loaded with huge, juicy shrimp in a flour tortilla that was topped with cabbage coleslaw, spicy pineapple salsa, and a side of cilantro lime crema to dress it with. The sweetness of the pineapple, with its hint of spice, perfectly complemented the shrimp. And when the crema was added on top, it made this a stand-out shrimp taco.
The Aloha Burger was just as tasty. The patty was huge and cooked to perfection. It came on a toasted brioche bun with a thick layer of Swiss cheese, applewood bacon, teriyaki, avocado, arugula, and the star of the show: grilled pineapple. Each bite of this burger was filled with a plethora of flavors.
Moving on to the sides, the home fries were beautifully crisp and light–the perfect amount of crunch. I sampled some of the sweet potato fries, and while I’m not a huge fan of sweet potato fries in general, I had more than my fair share of these.
My overall impressions of this remodel and the new menu is highly positive. Not only was the atmosphere enjoyable and comfortable, but the food I had was so good I had to stop myself from going back again later in the week.