Resistance is futile. Summer must end. However, lazy nights spent at The Barking Crab — the year-round “summer shack” situated at the foot of the Northern Avenue Bridge — might not have to.
Tourists and locals alike come for a quick bite or a family dinner in the main tavern during the heat of summer and, in The Cage (the adjacent open-air wire netted tent), after-work drinks often turn into an all-night party.
The tavern, which is warmed in winter by a big stove, overlooks the channel on one side and the ever-developing seaport on the other. The Crab’s topsy-turvy floor echoes the wonky walk of its namesake, and a recent interior spruce up hasn’t altered it much. The biggest change is the new slimmed down menu, just in time for the changing of the seasons. Gone is the long, jumbled list that aimed to please all and, with the new streamlined menu, they've infused their dishes with extra freshness and higher quality ingredients.
The new menu cuts to the quick of New England — sure, there’s a chicken sandwich if you really hate fish (in which case, you'd be best dining elsewhere), and yes, a recent special included a more genteel halibut dish. However, mostly, the Crab is a place to get messy with lobsters and crab legs.
Less splashy, crisply battered whole bellied clams are sweet and tasty (it was clear on a recent visit that someone has been more diligent about changing the frying oil). The accompanying coleslaw is fine and, for a couple of bucks, you can swap fries for luscious sweet potato wedges – a little extra Vitamin A never hurt anyone, after all. There's a plan to soon add a new raw bar, but current offerings include briny, flavorsome Barnstable oysters and wild caught shrimp, which, though appealingly huge, are slightly less tasty.
Soon enough, the weather will call for steaming chowder but, for now, the Barking Crab’s sole dessert hits the spot — an ice cream sandwich with two giant in-house baked chocolate chip cookies that do not spare the chocolate chips.
2014 marks the Barking Crab’s 20th birthday and tonight marks its first Boardwalk Bash, an end of season carnival with drinks, food and music. Proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester. 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Tickets: $40. 88 Sleeper St., South Boston. 617-426-CRAB. barkingcrab.com.