Before I begin my rant about the much-touted Obrycki's in Baltimore, please allow me to give you some personal background information.
I live north of Boston, MA. For the past twenty years or so, I have spent many, many hours on Cape Cod catching thousands (I do not exaggerate) of blue crabs by jumping into the water, crab net in hand, and chasing them around. Blue crabs, while not found in this area in numbers large enough to support a commercial fishery, are nonetheless often plentiful for the recreational crabber, especially one who knows where to look for them - like me.
During this period, I think it would be reasonable to say that during the summer months blue crab has been the mainstay of my diet. I will eat it for lunch, dinner, or both. I eat 'em hard, soft, as cakes, in salad, imperial-style, and any other way I feel like preparing them.
I have even used a little portable gas stove to cook them soon after they were removed from their briny habitat. That experience yields the best, sweetest-tasting meat of all.
I have also caught and eaten the local rock, calico, green, and even the small mud crabs - all of which are excellent and all of which require varying degrees of skill and patience to extract the meat. And FTR, I've tried San Francisco's heralded Dungeness and Florida's Stone crabs - pretty good! What I'm getting at here is that I think it's fair to say I'm no naif regarding what is or isn't good crab.
So, given that my wife and I happened to be in Baltimore on the day of the Preakness, and given all the raves I'd read here and elsewhere about Obrycki's, AND given that we were on vacation and had a few $$ to spend...well, it all added up to a trip to Obrycki's, and damn the expense.
My wife is not as fond of crab as am I, so she ordered the fried shrimp. Me, I just didn't much feel like taking the time to mess with a dozen crabs, so I went for the crab cakes at two for $25.
About the shrimp, I will not say say much other than the six or so on my wife's plate were at best totally ordinary and at worst bland and somewhat greasy. As for the crabcakes - well, judging by them, Obrycki's MUST be surviving on reputation alone. Although they were plump enough, these feeble excuses for crab cakes were bland and tough. I have no doubt that either the meat used for them was from crabs cooked a couple of minutes too long (as many of you probably know, that makes a world of difference in crab cookery) or it was of the packaged, pasteurized variety. They weren't worth HALF what I paid for them and of course were but a pale shadow of the ones I make myself (I use mayo for binding) from truly fresh crabmeat.
So, while Obrycki's may have its fans, I'm not gonna be one of them. I'm not particularly receptive to plaints that, "maybe they were just having a bad day" - not at THOSE prices, I'm not!
BTW, my first experience with hardshells occurred many years ago at a crab emporium (it long ago ceased to be such) in Silver Spring, MD, called Kushner's.
Sorry to sound so negative, but I *had* to get it out! The good news for me is that I the Cape Cod crabs ought to be out in a week or two. I can hardly wait!