Photo by Jonathan Webster
When the day opens up with blue skies, warm breezes and sunshine on the calm waters of Humboldt Bay, nothing could be better than heading out to King Salmon, where kayakers are paddling in the waves, and making a hard turn into the parking lot of Gill's By the Bay (77 Halibut Ave.).
There you can find a seat on the patio and survey the nautical-themed garden with its landlocked rowboat, fluttering sweet peas and ship ropes, while the more intrepid glide by in their wetsuits and boats. If sitting with your back to a harpoon launcher makes you skittish, head for the corner. Novelty may lure you, siren-like, toward the grilled crab sandwich with cheese but stay the course to the plain, cold crab sandwich ($17.50). By my eye, it's at least a full cup of crabmeat tossed with mayonnaise and chopped green onion on soft, mild sourdough and accompanied by equally straightforward potato salad, slaw or fries. It's a simple arrangement that lets the sweet, briny flavor of the meat shine.
There are those who will whistle at that price for a sandwich — those who have never watched a full episode of The Deadliest Catch
or picked a crab clean from claw to claw for someone else without nibbling as they went. You'll be happier if you accept that Dungeness crab, caught by professional fishermen making their living, and served to you by smiling restaurant staff doing the same, costs. Consider what you'd pay for its Kennedy cousin the lobster, shipped frozen and not nearly as delicate in flavor or texture. Then take a deep lungful of sea air, squint at the boats in the distance and thoroughly enjoy your sandwich.