It’s soft shell season and Richmond chefs are putting out delectable dishes

Posted at 9:31 AM, May 25, 2018

RICHMOND, Va. — What are soft shells and why are you seeing them everywhere?

A soft-shelled crab is a crab that has recently molted, or shed its shell.

After shedding, almost the entire crab is edible.

All that hard work you have to do to pick a crab, it isn’t necessary — sound awesome?

It is.

Soft shell crabs, blue crabs in the United States, are typically available from April to September.

Hit these spots for my GO-TO Soft Shells in Richmond:

Lucy’s Restaurant in Jackson Ward

Soft shell at Lucy’s Restaurant

This fat soft shell is being served atop a burger.

Local dry-aged Monrovia Farms beef and a local sautéed soft shell between two pieces of bread—- can you dig it?

This burger is only available as a special so call ahead to see when they will be serving this beauty.

Ask for extra Sriracha Aioli.

Shagbark in Libbie Mill

Ever-changing soft shell special happen over at Libbie Mill — you never know what delicious soft shell will pop up on the menu.

Chef de Cuisine Brandon MacConnell says “Tonight, we have a Benton’s bacon and pickled sweet corn relish with beautiful radishes from Manakintowne. We took some ramps and torpedo onion tops, made a pesto for the base and a salad of baby radish sprouts. That will be gone by tomorrow and we’ll run a new dish for the weekend. Fresh cherries are finally here so that’s the route we’ll take for the weekend special!”

Sweet crab and tart cherries sound like a match made in heaven.

Nota Bene Downtown

Soft shell at Nota Bene

Add a little Italy to your softie?

Nota Bene makes use of both their kitchens for their soft shell special.

Chef Randall Doezter says the lightly sautéed crab isn’t easy to make.

“Simply speaking, it’s soft shell crabs over bucatini [made at Nota Bene in the mornings] with capers, basil, wine, and butter,” he said. “Technically speaking, its the soft shells dusted with a little flour to withstand the heat of the wood-fired oven, basting them with butter and garlic and thyme. The sauce has to be perfect or the dish isn’t worth serving, it’s like a beurre blanc almost. Super finicky. Crabs go on, sea salt, red pepper, and a few drops of lemon.”


Full-disclosure: I like soft-shells so much that I have a softie sandwich named after me at The Answer on Broad. Definitely try it.

It has come to my attention that MY Web Guy (and my cameraman) Scott Wise has never eaten a soft shell. Anywhere else should we take him?



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