After 20 Years, Barking Crab Has Been Revamped
A new chef brings a local, sustainable agenda to the venerable seafood shack.
The Barking Crab went back to basics last year, paring down its menu and reemphasizing its commitment to serving fresh, local seafood prepared with a hook-to-table sensibility. Now, The Barking Crab has completed “phase two” of its reinvention with a new executive chef, Joshua Brown, along with a new menu.
Brown’s new seasonal spring menu offers seafood dishes such as Asian parsnip cake with pan seared scallops, grilled swordfish with eggplant caponata, and a New England take on Southern shrimp and grits. The Barking Crab has also expanded its non-seafood options, offering a pulled pork sandwich on a Portuguese bolo roll, fried chicken served atop a Harpoon IPA waffle with maple-rosemary cream and bacon mashed potatoes, and a cheddar cheese-stuffed burger inspired by his favorite diner fare in Natick.
“I grew up in Natick and we have this little hometown diner called Casey’s Diner,” Brown says. “They do a really great hamburger and I just spun off of that. Like Casey’s, we put our onions, as well as a little bit of chopped bacon, right into the meat.”
Even Barking Crab classics like clam chowder and lobster got a major upgrade under Brown’s direction. Besides Alaskan crab, all the seafood is from local sources like the clams from Ipswich and lobster from James Hook and Co. The chowder is now made from scratch daily using a base of quahaug clams that have been steamed and poached in white wine. A self-described bacon enthusiast, Brown then adds triple-smoked bacon from Maine Family Farms along with onions, leeks, and celery.
As the weather gets warmer, you can also expect to see clambake dinners on the menu that include boiled Maine lobster, steamers, clam chowder, grilled chorizo, Harpoon White Ale braised potatoes, coleslaw, and corn on the cob.
Brown joined The Barking Crab in late November after spending seven years at Tomasso Trattoria & Enoteca in Southborough. Before that he worked for a year as line cook at Michael Schlow’s Alta Strada in Wellesley.
“When I was brought aboard, it was with the understanding that I was going to completely overhaul the menu,” says Brown. “I might not have taken the job otherwise.”