It’s a wonderful thing when a menu item moves from signature to iconic. At The St. Paul Grill, an upscale restaurant that caters to business clientele as well as travelers in the Saint Paul Hotel, the crab cake is such a dish. “It goes like crazy,” says Rick Frazer, Executive Chef. “We go through 48 pounds of crabmeat every two days. On the menu, it’s one of the items marked with the ‘St. Paul Original’ logo—it’s something people come here for.”
The crab cake features colossal crab, red bell pepper, fresh chives, lemon and orange zest and a “secret aïoli” made with mustard and horseradish, among other ingredients. “It’s got nice, huge chunks of crab,” he says. “You taste the crab right away, and then get the citrus from the zest, and the accents from the fresh pepper and chive. The fat of the aïoli rounds it all out.” It’s served with tarragon aïoli and a small frisée salad dressed with champagne vinaigrette. Frazer pan-roasts the crab cake for differentiation and for better flavor and texture. “We used to make a standard crab-cake patty and deep-fry it, but this is a much lighter treatment than deep frying, and you don’t lose the crab this way.”
The menu staple can be ordered as an appetizer of one 4-oz. crab cake or a main course with two crab cakes. Frazer and team are experimenting with turning the crab cake into a crab salad for the restaurant’s cold seafood towers. “We’re working on how to get the same build of flavors but in a cold application, and we figured this would be a good way to offer that experience,” he says.