Sometimes a place just seems to have figured out how to keep its bar stools filled. For as long as I can remember, that has always been the reputation for the bar at the Crab Trap in Somers Point, particularly during happy hour, which runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
So, when I arrived with a few friends on a Friday afternoon, I expected the place to be crowded — and it was.
If you have never been inside, the Crab Trap is a massive space. The bar area alone is larger than most restaurants and we counted room for at least 50 patrons to be seated along its large, roughly boot-shaped bar which somehow meanders through two rooms.
The visual atmosphere is hard to pin down, as it combines dated elements with some modern. It’s comfy, though there are some things that could be improved, such as the tiny flat-screen TVs in the back portion of the bar. People who come to a bar to watch sports want a big bright TV, as opposed to these, which look like something my Great Aunt Bert would have had in her kitchen if she was still alive, and to be honest, she wasn’t exactly known for riding the cutting edge when it came to big screens and modern electronics in general.
As we grabbed a few seats at the bar it became immediately obvious that the sizeable crowd here, while loud and lively, was decidedly older than your normal happy hour crew. Absent were the stereotypical 20- and 30-somethings, all flirting with the office sure-thing while merrily knocking back a parade of cheap drafts. In their place were groups of 50-, 60- and even 70-somethings awkwardly flirting — no joke, the wool-pants-wearing, silver-haired gent two stools down from me repeatedly uttered the phrase, “C’mon baby, give me a squeeze!” to the aging maiden he was attempting to charm — while knocking back those same cheap drafts, defiantly refusing to let his mature years stand in the way of his immature nature. It was surprising, but refreshing at the same time. I guess you are never too old to have a good time.
I noticed a few specialty cocktails on the menu, one of which was a Paloma, a tequila drink that uses grapefruit juice as its main mixer. I promptly ordered it. I have to admit it took me a minute to adjust to the bitterness of the grapefruit — something I rarely, if ever consume outside of a Paloma — but nevertheless this was a well-crafted cocktail, and I give the Crab Trap bonus points for putting something this unusual on their menu when they could have just gone the easy route with a standard margarita.
The beer list leaves something to be desired, as the taps were mostly made up of big, obvious names like Budweiser and Coors Light, with Amstel Light, Corona and Yuengling doing a poor job of passing as more exotic offerings. But then again, a Bud Light draft can be had at happy hour for just $3, and bottled beers are a buck off as well, so who can complain?
It also must be noted that while I am not really a “wine guy,” the Crab Trap does offer a selection of wines by the glass for just $5 during happy hour. Are they any good? How should I know? I just told you, I’m not really a wine guy.
Being that the Crab Trap is a classic seafood spot, it’s hard not to indulge in some tasty treats from the sea while you are here, and their apps menu is full of hearty options at very reasonable prices.
We started with a cup of the creamy crab bisque ($6.95), which was thick and indulgent and certainly lived up to its name. After that we loaded up on a plethora of fried seafood apps — Maryland crab bites ($6.50), lobster puffs ($7.50) a southwest crab cake ($6), coconut shrimp ($6), deviled clams ($5.95) and finally — just to pretend we were being healthy — a wedge salad ($5.95).Just about all of the apps were tasty, however we began to realize that crab balls and crab cakes are basically the same thing, and lobster puffs are not far off either. Next time I would break up the monotony of the fried stuff with some options from the raw bar instead. But this was our mistake, not theirs, and each app really was quite good.
The scene at the bar at Crab Trap might not be for everyone, but it sure is for a lot of people. By the time we left not a bar stool was available, and folks were still coming in in numbers. A band was setting up and by the looks of it, I would say the party was just getting started. As the old saying goes, age is but a number.