Charley’s Crab: not your average seafood shack

March 31, 2012

PALM BEACH, USA – Ah, the joys of the seafood shack. Hunkering down with a steaming plate of crabs or lobster, tying on a silly bib, slurping a couple of beers, and digging in until our buttons pop. Unless, of course, we’re talking Palm Beach institution Charley’s Crab. Don’t be fooled by the folksy name and its “casual” billing–this is Palm Beach, after all. For starters, you’ll have to leave your machine washables and elastic waistbands in the closet and spring for a day dress instead. (No, we’re not kidding.) Heck, you might even want to throw on a light wrap, too (Charley’s counts AC among its luxuries). And that’s just the start.

On step in Charley’s “relaxed” dining room and you’ll know this is about as “crab shack” as a Rockefeller “cottage” is a cottage. Crisp white linens and thick patterned carpets create a clubby vibe that elegantly murmurs “dinner with your parents or grandparents.” (The distinguished crowd backs us up on this: expect a sprinkling of suits around at lunch, and a bevy of well coiffed couples in the evening.) A pricey menu of seafood matches the surrounds–expect catch-of-the-day dishes served up with sophisticated panache; a range of classic cocktails and European wines provides the perfect upscale accompaniment. A disappointment for hardcore seafood shack devotees, perhaps…but when we’re wooing clients or our newest guy, all this swank is definitely a plus point.

And, to be fair, Charley’s has made a couple of oh-so-posh nods to the seafood shack concept it’s building on. Should you desire, you can saunter over to a bank of bubbling tanks near the entrance to pick your own lobster. Also, provided your table is in the right spot, you should have swell ocean views from your table, too. (Surprisingly, given this is a beach town, this is one of the few places around where you can ogle the sea as you eat. Be forewarned though…the ocean is actually across the street, so the views, while grand, are not flawless). Plus, in typical seafood shack style, the service runs hot and cold, and the views do bring a fair number of (well-heeled) tourists.

Final verdict: it’s a bit stuffier than your average seafood shack, we’ll give you that. But when we’re looking to get our lobster quaffing groove on in refined style, nothing beats this swanky local classic.

Read more about Charley’s Crab in Our Palm Beach Guide.

Charley’s Crab
456 S. Ocean Blvd.
Palm Beach, FL
Charley's Crab on Urbanspoon

Click here for our full-form mobile travel guide, The Purple Passport to Palm Beach

Rebecca Salois contributed to this post.

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