Restaurant Review: Claw BBQ
Stepping into Claw BBQ you are quickly transported to a different world, a world far far away from the glitz and glamour of Dubai. A world where adults wear bibs and are elbow deep in buckets of crab and shrimp. A place where the tables are covered in red checkered tablecloths and wooden mallets replace silverware. A place where frat boys gather to watch Football games and the margaritas are the size of your head. I could have easily mistaken this place for a restaurant on campus at Texas A&M University, it’s hard to believe this world exists in Souk Al Bahar.
The team behind Japanese Okku and Italian Riva have really diversified their portfolio when they opened Claw BBQ. The restaurant, reminiscent of Bubba Gump Shrimp, specializes in buckets of seafood and BBQ meats and is home to the first wood-chip smoker in the UAE. Initially I wasn’t interested in the Southern-style Saloon but the rave reviews kept me curious so I decided to embrace my inner cowgirl when I received an invitation to experience Claw BBQ.
The downtown venue is like stepping into a novelty store, I walked around examining the hundreds of neon signs hanging on the brick walls, my favorite “Drink Coffee: Do Stupid Things Faster with More Energy.” I digress, it was a Thursday, so the restaurant was packed to the brim and service was on the slow side. The menu was intimidating with many Southern staples from Freshly Shucked Oysters to Louisiana Crab Cakes and Baja Fish Taco’s to Jalepeno Bacon Burgers and Texas Beef Brisket. We started with the Crab Claws.
I’ve never seen crab served like this before, there were five claws with a generous portion of crab protruding from the claw, almost like a crab lollipop (the claw being the stick). The Claws were served in a bucket over ice with a side of cocktail sauce, the cocktail sauce was unnecessary. With only a little lemon the delicate crab claws were simple and delicious, we were tempted to order seconds until we remembered we ordered an entire rack of ribs alongside two other mains.
The mixed beef and chicken Fajitas were a nice surprise, the meats were chargrilled and seasoned well over a bed of sweet onions and bell peppers. A side of guacamole added a nice flavor contrast of cilantro and lime to the meaty Mexican dish. The Lobster was the only meal I found disappointing, the portion of lobster was small and tasted a little fishy. The Not so Lonely Lobster was accompanied by a generous portion of lump crab meat, the dishes saving grace, as it was seasoned for a rich and decadent flavor.
The crowd pleaser of the evening were the 8-hour smoked BBQ Pork Ribs which were coated in a sweet Kansas City style homemade BBQ sauce. The sweet sauce and smoked ribs were delicious and rationed equally since they were the unanimous favorite. They were not the best ribs I’ve ever had in my life but let me put this into perspective. The best ribs I’ve ever had were at the Naperville Ribfest. a rib mecca where dozens of the US’s most coveted BBQ rib vendors celebrate the popular cut of meat with family recipes passed down through generations. It’s safe to say that these were the best ribs I’ve had east of the Atlantic.
A side of thick cut crispy Cajun French Fries provided the carbs to balance out our meal and generous cocktails served in mason jars washed down the seafood and meat feast. With a bar that rivals the food, Claw’s award-winning Mixologist created a cocktail menu with southern hospitality in mind. You can expect everything from a John Collins to Bourbon Sours and Cuba Libre’s to Jamaican Mules.
If you are looking for an unpretentious night out with good food and better cocktails, look no further. You won’t help but finish your meal with BBQ sauce smeared on your chin and crab meat under your nails but don’t worry you’ll quickly be handed an adorable ‘Wipe that Smile off your Face’ wet wipe. This is as close to a rodeo as you are going to get in the UAE, so forget about table manners, unleash your inner cowboy (or girl) and tie on that bib, your taste buds will enjoy the Southern excursion. Yee-haw!
Disclosure: The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely Memoirs of a Taste Bud’s own.