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Crab Joint Aprons & Hammers – a Hammering or Not?

I always had fond memories of the Mina Seyahi dhow at DIMC (Dubai International Marine Club) with its freshly caught seafood on display, fishmarket-style and a wonderful selection of sushi and sashimi, but sometime earlier this year Le Meridien ceased operating this little hidden gem at the end of the pier. It now floats by the name of Aprons & Hammers – a so-called upscale crab joint.

Over the phone, the manager was curt and indifferent to my query whether a dry night would be declared due to a recent public holiday; he simply didn’t seem that bothered with my reservation. Anyhow the day before, I received a call confirming my reservation and that in fact booze would be served…so our little group rocks up only to find the indifference continuing, whilst we waited for a waiter to escort us to our table. I realise you may be busy, but why no welcome? So glad I’d reserved al fresco; the smelly, sweaty odour inside would have had us keeling over the dhow in no time. With the speakers blaring right above our table, it took four requests for the music to be lowered.

Anyhow, moving swiftly onto the menu. I’d heard mixed reviews of Aprons & Hammers, but the concept really appealed to the FooDiva in me. And do you know of any other dedicated crab joint in Dubai? After much discussion, but with not much guidance from the clueless waiters (don’t blame them – it’s lack of good management and training), here’s what we settled upon.

  • Classic crispy calamari (two portions). Clearly deep fried from frozen in oil that had been reused. Tough and stringy, it’s only saving grace was the rather moreish tartare sauce.
  • Fresh shrimp cocktail. This dish was the highlight of our evening. Juicy, plump prawns (not shrimp) steamed, chilled and served with traditional cocktail sauce.
  • Crab cakes. Same over-fried and oily taste to the calamari. At this point, we complained and the manager proceeded to bring us another identical dish, which he even had the audacity to add to the bill!
  • Crab bucket. Now this is Aprons & Hammers speciality, but we had to practically beg for aprons and were initially offered kiddie sizes. Whilst we’re flattered you think we’re teeny, why oh why? The hammers were placed on our table with zero explanation on how to use them. Once we’d begged the manager for a demo, which he eventually conceded to, the steamed crab’s pulp was soft and succulent. But one word of advice, don’t drown it in your choice of sauce; mine was lemon and butter. Simply use as a dip. For future reference, only order crab if you have plenty of patience to fuss over food. Use the hammer to smash off the head of the crab, and then the pliers to twist the legs. The little fork helps to dig inside and extract the crab meat.

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