Tabled manners: The soft-shell crab Royale
A couple of weeks ago, I unexpectedly found myself staring down the soft-shell crab Royale at Lula Cafe
in Logan Square and thought: How am I going to eat this thing without looking like a scene out of Alien
It was a buttermilk-fried soft-shell crab sandwich with a sunny side up farm egg, bacon, coleslaw, pickled ramp gribiche, on a soft buttered bun—with a side of "Cajun" spiced potato chips. The Royale is the title of Lula's "breakfast sandwich series" only available during brunch, which is actually served daily.
The dish is a head-turner. The kind of plate that stops conversation, all eyes follow, from kitchen, through dining room, to table, with a lingering question: How do you eat that?
So faced with the potential face-hugger, I strategized. I didn't want to deconstruct the sandwich completely. And then I attacked. I pulled off each of the meaty legs first, swiped them in the gribiche under the bun, and ate them them like fries. I then cradled the whole sandwich in my hands, bacon end first, and bit through. I anticipated soft pop of the runny yolk and slurped it like à la soup dumpling.
But I'm curious: How would you eat this sandwich? Or any of the new piled-on high American foods?
Please note that the soft-shell crab Royale will only be available at Lula through Friday. The soft-shell crab season is nearly over.
On Saturday a new Royale shall take reign.