Luckily the sweet smell of dungeness crab and the busy clang of plates caught my eye. At Sotto Mare’s, crab season is in progress.
The dainty hall that seats no more than about 30 people is a cozy joint with a marbled bar, where locals come for a pint of Anchor and chilled crustacean. Photos of familiar passerby, old signs and a polished sea turtle shell deck the baby blue walls. My date, who says she’s never been into the rich seafood stew San Franciscans have coined Cioppino, decided that we eat chilled claws dipped in drawn butter. Maybe that’s why it never worked out. But hey, when you’re dealing with crab, what’s to disagree about?
We ordered a dozen oysters to set the palate (six west, six east coast). The east coast oysters proved more plump and sweet than those along our coast. That’s because oysters in colder water tend to offer a more fleshy and round product. The chilled dungeness, local and caught just after the opening of crab season in mid November, was nothing short of perfect.
I’ll get the Cioppino next time. When it’s crab season, it all works out.