Offering home-style eating in a cozy country atmosphere, this Wrightstown, Pa., restaurant specializes in seafood.

By: Judith Norkin


573 Durham Road

Wrightstown, Pa.

(215) 598-7590
Food: Good

Service: Good

Prices: Inexpensive

Cuisine: Seafood and other offerings

Ambiance: Low-key country kitchen

Hours: Tues.-Sat.: opens at 11 a.m.; Sun. opens at 1 p.m.; Closing time: "When people are finished eating."

Essentials: Cash or personal checks only; take-out available; b.y.o.; wheelchair accessible.


   IF not for Crabcakes’ black-asphalt parking lot and the big sign out front, you could almost mistake it for a modest little suburban house. With lace curtains showing through the front windows, green wood trim and a sidewalk entry, the Wrightstown restaurant is downright cozy. The theme continues inside, where there’s wallpaper printed with tiny fruits, coordinating window treatments, dried flower arrangements and a bit of shabby chic.
   As the name suggests, Crabcakes specializes in seafood, although a few meat and chicken dishes are available. The dinner menu offers a wide choice of fried or broiled seafood items, along with several combination platters, sandwiches and salads. The lunch menu is a slightly shorter and less expensive version of the dinner menu. But the best value is the early bird menu, which offers full dinners — an entrée plus soup, salad, vegetables, dessert and coffee — during specific times (they change depending on the day) for less than $10.
   Once we entered the restaurant and were seated, a smiling waitress wearing an apron over her T-shirt and jeans brought some menus and a basket of bread. She took our order and it was not long before the appetizers arrived. First came a cup of Manhattan clam chowder ($2.25), which turned out to be mildly flavored, rich and thick enough to hold a standing spoon. Then, shrimp cocktail ($6.50), which came with a small bowl of standard-issue cocktail sauce and five not-particularly-jumbo shrimp balanced on a rigid piece of curly kale. Nothing special and, unlike the meal to come, not great value for the price.
   Once the plates were removed, entrées were served. We’d ordered a flounder combination ($12.95), which included two pieces of fish accompanied by a mound of tuna salad. A culinary odd couple to be sure, but who could think about that when confronted with two astonishingly huge slabs of golden-brown flounder? We bit through the thick-and-crunchy golden crust into hot-and-flaky fish. It was fresh and mild. We debated the necessity of tartar sauce. I said the fish could have used a little kick. My husband liked it plain, with a squeeze of lemon juice. The tuna, a mound roughly equivalent to two cups and mixed with mayonnaise and celery, made an awe-inspiring side, but its texture suggested it came from a can. The side dishes were excellent, particularly the creamy, steaming-hot mashed potatoes.
   How would Crabcakes perform with meat? To see, I ordered veal Parmesan ($11.95). It consisted of two thick veal patties breaded in what looked like the same coating as the flounder and topped with tomato sauce and cheese. The conclusion: at Crabcakes, seafood rules. The veal was overcooked and slightly dry, and the breading that gave the flounder its crunch was too heavy here. Another dollop of tomato sauce and more cheese would have helped disguise these shortcomings. But like the flounder, no one could fault it on size. Finishing just one of the veal patties was an accomplishment that left me stuffed.
   It seems impossible to leave Crabcakes feeling hungry. Included with the super-size entrée was a traditional garden salad and two side dishes chosen from a long list that featured potatoes, linguini, applesauce, coleslaw, stewed tomatoes and a variety of vegetables.
   The Ripley’s-Believe-It-Or-Not-sized portions continued with the children’s meal ($5.95). Hamburgers, grilled cheese and a few fish and meat dishes (all include fries and applesauce) are available, but the only thing child-sized about this selection was its price. Our two children shared the chicken fingers, which were several good-sized pieces of tender white meat coated in what by now we were calling "house breading."
   With all these entrées and side dishes, our table was very quickly buried with food. At one point it occurred to me that it would not be a bad thing to be a cow, which with two capacious stomachs could take excellent advantage of the spread. There was much more than we could eat, but this was obviously a common occurrence here. We’d seen customers walking out with tall stacks of Styrofoam containers all night, so when the waitress offered to wrap our leftovers, we didn’t feel out of place saying yes.
   Yet we hankered for just a sweet little something and found room to try one dessert. Crabcakes offers rice pudding, ice cream and some pies, but what stood out on the menu was a walnut cream cake ($2.95). In our condition, one slice (with four forks) was plenty. Just a few bites of the yellow layer cake flecked with sweet walnuts and layered with whipped cream was the happy ending this meal needed. We paid the check, took our leftovers and left.
   No one would say what Crabcakes does is cordon bleu cooking. And it isn’t where I’d go to celebrate a very special anniversary or big graduation. But for fresh, solid, simple and plentiful food in a low-key setting, it’s fine. And Crabcakes offers a good, inexpensive alternative to the fake-happy mood and generic food at chain restaurants. The night we went, many of the 15 tables were occupied with some combination of adults accompanied by offspring, making this one place we’ll consider again next time the cook of the house feels like going off-duty.
For directions to Crabcakes, click here.