It’s a shellfish frenzy in the basement of Oyster Bah.
Hidden in a tiny Lincoln Park basement is a new restaurant that’s shaping up to be one of the hottest openings of the year, with reservations being made up to two months in advance. Is it another omakase bar? An intimate tasting menu destination from an acclaimed chef? Not quite. It’s Crab Cellar (1962 N. Halsted St.), an all-you-can-eat party spot serving fresh seafood and prime burgers.
Crab Cellar is tucked beneath Oyster Bah, the North Side outpost of Shaw’s Crab House. All three are run by partner Bill Nevruz, who had been trying to figure out what to do with the subterranean space for some time. The room is tricky, as it fits only seven tables and a bar, and there’s no outdoor patio to attract patrons in the summer. Nevruz considered opening a ramen shop, a burger bar, and a bar to serve craft drinks and seafood cocktails. It was only after an inspiring trip to Burger & Lobster in New York City that he realized what fare his new project should offer: burgers and crabs.
“I know a thing or two about crab,” says Nevruz. “Then I decided to take this indulgent concept and take it over the top, and make it all-you-can-eat.” Crab Cellar also focuses on using quality ingredients, unlike many other all-you-care-to-eat spots. The restaurant uses the best beef for its burgers and buys the best crab on the market, steaming each crustacean to order.
Nevruz’s plan has resulted in a pretty sweet dining deal. For $59.95, you can enjoy grass-fed Slagel Farm burgers made with Roquefort cheese and fried onions, and hot, freshly steamed whole Alaskan king crab legs served with melted butter. If you want more bites, the menu offers simple sides like mac and cheese, French fries, or broccoli. As for drinks, you can imbibe on bottomless beers for an additional $18, with eight craft brews to choose from.
“I want to take care of you as if you were at a party at my house,” Nevruz says. “I would never say you can’t have more of anything at my house, and I’d never keep asking you questions about what you want. It’s a dinner party.”
Crab Cellar has built up a bit of a following over the last few months, having quietly announced some extravagant dinners on social media. But the veil was only lifted a week ago, and the spot proves to be wildly popular. There are a few open reservations in the next couple of months, but I’d advise you to act fast if you’re aching for a taste.