The Crabby Cowboy Cafe
Rick, who owns The Crabby Cowboy Café, tells how, when he got out of prison a few years ago, for crimes and misdemeanors to be discussed at a later date, he bumped into a black man from North Carolina who taught him patiently about southern American barbecue, particularly pork barbecue, and how that teaching has allowed Rick to bring to Montauk some of the best pulled pork in the United States of America, much less the East End, where for many, many years barbecue came out of a can.
The key to great pulled pork is not so much the sauce, which can change at the whim of the eater (a honey-sticky tomato sauce is the Crabby’s regular menu). The key is the unchangeable texture and toothsomeness of the stringy pork, and the bite-sized flecks of a caramelized crust that is a sweet toffee of meat juices and tomatoes. You need people who are serious about their food and adept with their hands to cook it perfectly and then pull the pork from the bones and get that ratio of flecks just right. The Crabby Cowboy Café kitchen gets it all just right.
Rick’s mentor from North Carolina taught him well. Who knows how Rick would stack up in a TV bout against some Iron Chef from the Orient (might be a good match), but in running a laid-back barbecue joint, Rick is a freaking genius. There must be a great story behind how Rick got the property he is on, which is big, with lots of parking and free dockage for boats, and overlooks a mostly motor boat basin with a wide view of Lake Montauk. Now and then the little planes from the Montauk airport take off or land overhead, to add a little drama. There are 20 tables for four in the bright, big and smartly clean, high-ceilinged dining room, and about that many more tables under a cool tent outside.
The only formality at the Crabby is genuine politeness all around and a well tended flower garden with monster dahlias in brilliant colors. The mostly Irish young men and women who are the servers are delightfully fast, funny, and smart and they are daily trained by Rick and staff to understand what’s going on at all times.
The pulled pork is about $20 a pound wrapped to go, and the corn fritters, with big kernels of sweet yellow corn inside are $7.95 for a generous plenty. There is no snack on the planet better with a cold beer in the shade of sail or a Montauk oak.
Crabby also serves lobster, chicken and seafood. We will report on that next time, which will be soon.
Crabby may be a bit tricky to find by car; Click below for directions.
435 East Lake Drive
Montauk, NY 11954
Click here for directions