By Tamara Palmer
Yesterday marked the opening of Nettie's Crab Shack, the new Marina eatery from Chefs Annette Yang and Brian Leitner that's been heavily anticipated by foodies. I was born here, but Union Street is still somewhat of a foreign land to me, part of what I call "the other San Francisco" when I drive out of the fog and into the well-heeled sunshine. But I'll also routinely travel down to Half Moon Bay for seafood, so a pilgrimage for fish is not a problem.
We were glad we made the trip.
The cute space makes a statement right from the street, but once inside it's a feast of bright light from the ample skylights and glass roof.
Steeling myself for Union Street prices, it was nice to find out that it wasn't as bad as I thought and the menu was priced well for its location. We decided to share three dishes: Crab cakes with spicy chips and lemon mayo ($11), Jalapeno spoonbread with okra and red peppers ($7) and fish & chips ($16).
The crab cakes were luscious and gone quickly (as were the homemade chips with the killer crunch); it will be nice to see what other crab offerings come when the succulent beast is in season again. One should always be forgiving of an opening day, so I wasn't too mad when the fish & chips arrived with a little pool of oil at one end. The waiter made me feel a bit better by letting me know it was rice bran oil, but it still should have been drained before it got to the plate. No matter once we tucked into it, though, for the fried fish was crisp and delicious and we battled over the yummy fries.
We selected two desserts of butterscotch pudding ($5) and seven-layer chocolate cake ($7). The pudding showed up first, studded with cookie crumbles, and was gone in an instant, much more subtle and smooth than the average too-sweet version. We resisted putting our fingers in the bowl to get it all.
The seven-layer cake was then brought to the table with another portion of pudding by mistake. Now there's an error I can appreciate. The waiter barely got out the words, "Do you want it?" before he was interrupted: "Yes!!" The cake was rich and creamy, too, but the pudding definitely reigned.
The shack has outdoor patio seating, a good place to toss back some BBQ oysters (with a thoughtful beer chaser) or a po'boy while we're still in Indian summer. Thanks, Nettie—we will be back.