If you didn’t already know, it is currently Soft Shell Crab Season in South Carolina. From what I understand, this is about a month-long time each year when a certain type of crab sheds its outer layer, and the entire crustacean can be eaten – shell and all. It is delicious, and it won’t be around much longer. But for now, many of the restaurants around Columbia are featuring their own take on this delightful little delicacy.One of those restaurants just happens to be The War Mouth – Columbia’s new foodie haven set in an old warehouse/garage in the Cottontown neighborhood. A friend of ours was actually instrumental in the development of the restaurant, and though it’s been open for several months now, Bri and I still had not gotten around to checking it out.
But last weekend, I noticed that they had a featured soft shell crab appetizer, so I packed up my little
camera phone ColaTownTourist equipment, and off we went!
At 7:15 on a Saturday night, the place was already crowded. There was a wait for a table, so Bri and I decided to eat at the bar – one of our favorite places to eat when it’s just the two of us.
As it turned out, we happened to be there on the restaurant’s busiest night so far in its existence! Who knew we could help set a record!
We started with some craft cocktails – I had the War Mouth Cosmo, and Bri sipped on bourbon. The cocktail list isn’t extensive, but my drink was fantastic, and all the others we saw looked amazing, as well!
Then we moved on to appetizers. We got the potted catfish, the duck dumplings and, of course, the reason we were there: the soft shell crab.
Every bite was better than the last! The War Mouth has a selection of potted meats/fishes, which are really just kind of a ground of version, served chilled with crackers and toast. The catfish was really good, with large chunks of the fish throughout.
It is a small appetizer (most of them were), but the duck and the sauce are so superbly salty and delicious that you won’t even know you’re eating duck. And the dumplings are soft and doughy – exactly as a dumpling should be. I didn’t even mind the collard greens swimming around in there! I honestly think we would have licked the bowl, if we weren’t sitting at the bar in a crowded restaurant…
But of course the real star for me was the soft shell crab. Lightly fried and fully delicious, it sat atop asparagus, radishes and white strawberries (which, I’ll have to say, were better than any red ones I’ve ever eaten). The crab was fork tender and perfect. I hate that the season is so short, so if you have any desire to try soft shell crab at all, you better get out and do it – ASAP!
The portions for the appetizers are fairly small – they are appetizers, after all… So instead of making a full meal off of just starters, Bri ordered the chicken bog.
You really can’t go wrong with chicken bog. A decidedly southern dish, this meal reminded both Brian and myself of childhood church gatherings. I remember it being served on more than one occasion on Wednesday nights, and probably numerous other times, as well. This dish was huge, hearty and definitely ensured that we did not have room for dessert…
The War Mouth has a regular menu most nights, but on Sundays, the restaurant features a unique Family Dinner menu, complete with four fixed courses for just $25/person. If you are curious as to what the menu will be (because there is only one option for each course on Sundays), just check the Facebook page day-of (they don’t usually even know what they are serving until that day!!).