Michael Dea­con at Crab­shakk in Glas­gow

Tack­ling a smor­gas­bord of seafood in Glas­gow

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - CONTENTS -

You see it quite of­ten with rock stars. After months of cold, clenched, per­spir­ing agony, they fi­nally conquer their ad­dic­tion to drugs – only to find they’ve un­wit­tingly re­placed it with an ad­dict ion to some­thing else. they’re now ad­dicted to Red Bull, say, or to work­ing out, or to du­bi­ous juice cleanses, or some ar­cane branch of mys­ti­cism. What­ever it is, it fix­ates them as crazedly as the drugs did; and al­though their bod­ies may be grow­ing health­ier, their minds are not. Be­cause some­where deep in­side them gnaws a cease­less neu­rotic want–a want that must al­ways be fed, if not by one thing, then by an­other. And so the ad­dict dis­cov­ers he can kick coke or crack or pills or smack – but he can’t kick ad­dic­tion. He needs to need.

A mildly dis­con­cert­ing way to be­gin a res­tau­rant col­umn, i know. But, in my own mi­nor, provin­cial and silly way, i’m be­gin­ning to fear that the above has hap­pened tome. i’ve given up drink. And re­placed it with pud­dings.

Hon­estly, it’s ter­ri­ble. i de­cided to lay off the booze for a bit, in the ex­pec­ta­tion that i’d feel bet­ter and look slim­mer. But my body, it turns out, had other ideas. De­nied its reg­u­lar source of su­gar, it de­manded an­other. un­til i stopped drink­ing, i hardly touched choco­late, couldn’ t stand pas tries, a nd felt sick at t he sight of a Krispy Kreme. now i’ve got the sweet tooth of a tod­dler at Christ­mas. i love dough­nuts and Cronuts and cheese­cakes and

cup­cakes; sor­bets and souf­flés; mac­a­roons, maca rons. Ever y la st one of them I could com­for tably have lived with­out while I was still on the G&TS; yet to­day, a sin­gle bite lights me up like a fruit ma­chine.

Which is why, in restau­rants, when the waiter sails over to present the wine list, I now shoot him the tol­er­ant smile of the rig­or­ously self-dis­ci­plined and say, ‘Not for me, thanks. Just sparkling wa­ter .’ Pause .‘ Plus three jam tarts, six tof­fee waf­fles and a kilo of Lyle’s.’

In a bid to wean my­self off the junk, I went to Crab shakk, a seafood res­tau­rant in Glas­gow. Seafood: clean and fresh and teem­ingly nu­tri­tious. That would keep the su­gar pangs at bay.

Crab­shakk is a tightly packed lit­tle place, its walls dec­o­rated with blackand-white pho­tos of craggy fish­er­men, or glee­ful school­boys show­ing off flat­fish the size of door mats. Both the menu and the spe­cials board are long and var­ied; to­gether, they read like pretty much the en­tire cast list of Find­ing Dory.

In gen­eral, the starters were good. Lightly smoked salmon, melt­ingly del­i­cate, on a bed of crushed peas; saltand-pep­per gurnard and ten­ta­cles, chewily sup­ple; and smør­re­brød, a kind of Dan­ish open sand­wich, with pick­led her ring, dill and rye bread. Even if you hadn’t known what it was called, you could have guessed that it was Scan­di­na­vian. There was some­thing stern, brood­ing and weather-beaten about it. It made me want to pull on a 4in-thick jumper and solve mur­ders in bad light­ing.

Where I went wrong, I think, was in my choice of main. I or­dered the whole brown crab, feel­ing that, since the thing was part of the res­tau­rant’ s name, I’d prob­a­bly bet­ter sam­ple it. To be hon­est, though, I al­ways find eat­ing crab a bot her, and so per­haps didn’t look as grate­ful as I should have done when the wait­ress ap­peared and said, ‘Sorry, the crabs area wee bit small to­day – so they’ve given you two.’

It isn’t just the ef­fort I mind. It’s the look of it. The bat­tered old metal tools, one for crack­ing, one for scrap­ing; as you set to work, the sounds of crunch­ing and splin­ter­ing; and the out­come, a help less chaotic mas­sacre of legs and joints and in­nards. It makes me feel like some kind of me­dieval sur­geon. And not an es­pe­cially skilled one.

It takes so long, too. While ev­ery­one else is mer­rily pol­ish­ing off their lemon-sole fill et or monk fish-cheek scampi, you’re still grimly ex­ca­vat­ing away. Worth­while if you love the stuff, of course. Here, though, I wasn’t keen. To me it just tasted like cold cat food. (Or at least, how I imag­ine cold cat food to taste. I don’t eat cat food. Just wanted to make that clear.)

For bal­ance, I should add that the crab cakes were good. That’s the way I like my crab­meat: not in a crab. The ‘wee sup­per’ was de­cent, too, al­though let’s face it, on a plate in a res­tau­rant is a de­cid­edly sub-op­ti­mal way to con­sume fish and chips. We all know it tastes bet­ter in a parked car, wrapped in pa­per, the same way that beer al­ways tastes bet­ter from a tap than from a can. As far as I can re­mem­ber, any­way.

I still ended up hav­ing dessert. Of course I did. It was af­fogato: ba­si­cally, two scoops of ice cream with a cup of cof­fee tipped over the top. I must ad­mit, I rarely have cof­fee, be­cause it makes me go a bit… emo­tional. This one made my ner ves feel like a bunch of keys in a tum­ble dryer.

It’s a nice place, Crab­shakk, but one t hing I have to say against it is t hat it took a long, long time to get the bill and pay. In fact, the meal it­self was pretty stretched out. Two hours and 25 min­utes is a lot, for lunch. Es­pe­cially when you’ve got a small bored child who’s start­ing to act up. That was a pain.

Or maybe I was just be­ing g rumpy be­cause I hadn’t had enough su­gar.

I’ve got the sweet tooth of a tod­dler at Christ­mas. I love dough­nuts and Cronuts and cup­cakes; sor­bets and souf­flés

Above Crab cakes at Crab­shakk. Op­po­site A whole crab. ‘Sorry, they’re a wee bit small to­day,’ the wait­ress told Michael Dea­con, ‘so we’ve given you two’

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