In my time doing Berks County Eats, there has been no more highly anticipated restaurant than Gettin’ Crabby at the Crab Barn.
In February 2013, the Reading Eagle reported that the new restaurant would open that summer.
It was 45 months later, November 2016, when the doors finally opened to the public.
Nothing builds anticipation like a four-year wait.
We waited just a couple months after the official opening before making our first trip to the Hampden Boulevard landmark, just north of the Reading city limits.
Look for the barn with the giant crab hanging off the front. You can’t miss it.
Having never been to the original, I had no frame of reference for what to expect.
Walking in, I was impressed. The main entrance opens to the lower-level bar and waiting area. A boat propeller and other nautical memorabilia hung on the wooden walls (the Goldfish crackers for bar snacks were a nice touch).
As we were led upstairs to the dining area, I was even more impressed.
It’s very hard to combine rustic barn and nautical theming, but the Crab Barn does it. A painted on American flag takes up much of the roof. The far wall is painted to resemble a vintage barn-side advertisement, but instead of Mail Pouch tobacco, it beckons you to chew “Male Crabs.”
There’s also a swordfish, the back half of a boat, oars and two mounted elk heads (one of these things doesn’t belong).
Clearly a lot of work went into the building. One thing that could still use a little work is their system of seating customers. The hostess is downstairs. The dining room is upstairs. Staff came and went while we waited. Then, after we were led upstairs, we waited again while they fixed a table for us.
Service was a lot better after we were seated.
At this point, I need to mention that I don’t like crabs (or anything, generally, that swims). I have tried to like them. Not happening.
Julie, on the other hand, loves crabs. On her business trips to Seattle and Portland, she especially grew to love Dungeness crabs.
Though she was a little worried about having them 3000 miles away, she couldn’t help herself.
And she was very pleased. The meat came out in nice chunks, and there was plenty of it to enjoy as she cracked open every leg and claw.
To go with the crabs and the other entrees, the Crab Barn offers nine side choices, many of them unique to the restaurant, like the tomato cucumber salad.
It was a light side, a good change of pace, served in a nice lemon basil dressing. Julie’s second side, the basil redskin mashed potatoes were also quite flavorful.
So, what does a land lover do at the Crab Barn? Well, they are prepared for customers like me with several turf options to go with the surf.
My choice was the marinated beef tips.
The small sirloin pieces were marinated in Sriracha bourbon marinade. There was only a hint of heat from the Sriracha, but it picked up rich flavors from the bourbon. I really enjoyed it, though the half pound portion felt small.
For my sides, I went with fried plantains and Island cilantro rice. I loved the plantains (if you’re a regular reader of the blog, you know there was never any doubt). The rice was good, too, but I would have liked a little more cilantro.
Several of the items on the menu, including the Dungeness crab, are listed as market price on the menu. That was about $25 on our visit. With my beef tips and iced tea, our total for the two of us was about $45.
It was a four-year wait to get crabby at Gettin’ Crabby at the Crab Barn. Judging from the full dining room, we weren’t the only ones who were anxious to try it.
Now that we’ve been there, we’re excited to go back.
Gettin’ Crabby at the Crab Barn
2613 Hampden Blvd
Reading, PA 19604