Jax Fish House, Sullivan’s Steakhouse are in stone crab season

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Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar on the Country Club Plaza have them. McCormick & Schmick’s, also on the Plaza, does not.

Neither of the two Bristol Seafood Grill locations in the metro are offering them, but Sullivan’s Steakhouse (4501 West 119th Street, Leawood) and Joe’s Crab Shack (11965 South Strang Line Road, Olathe) currently have them on the menu.

Florida stone crab, Menippe mercenaria,  the crustacean delicacy that can be legally harvested in the United States only from October 15 to May 15, is starting to make its presence known in Kansas City restaurants. The crabs are harvested under fairly rigid guidelines, which make them even more desirable — and costly.

Theresia Oto, the chef de cuisine at Jax Fish House, is particularly enamored of the stone crab’s claws — the only feature of the crustacean that can be harvested.

“It’s a very expensive crab to harvest,” Ota tells The Pitch. “If a fisherman pulls up a crab with eggs in his trap, it must be immediately returned to the water. And only one claw may be taken at a time. Younger crabs can rejuvenate a claw faster than an older crab, but it roughly takes three years for a crab claw to regrow the lost limb.”

“I think the meat in the stone crab is much sweeter than any other crabmeat,” Ota says. “Nothing tastes quite like it.”

Ota says Jax Fish House, like most local seafood restaurants offering the claws, don’t use the stone crabmeat for seafood dishes. “We want our patrons to enjoy it in its purest form,” she says. Jax purchases only medium-size claws from its purveyors.”

“They’re very costly,” Oto says. “We charge $8 for one claw, which weighs between 2 to 3 ounces.”

Sullivan’s Steakhouse charges $10 for a single claw and $18 for two claws.

To enjoy the purity of the stone crabmeat, Jax serves the chilled claws only with its house mustard, horseradish, and cocktail sauce. Oh, and both a lemon and a lime wedge.

“Most customers want them as a starter. But if you order a side dish or two,” Ota says, “they make a great dinner.”

And as long as you order them before May 15, these costly claws are well within the law.

Categories: Dining, Food & Drink