Clawing for success

Tasty crab claws can't rescue Truluck's

Stone crabs are colorful, hard-shelled beasts that come in precious Southwestern hues. The meat, though more fibrous and less delicate than that of other crab species, is sweet and rich.

But there is another vitally important aspect to the stone crab. In theory, vegans can consume this animal flesh without guilt. More importantly, vegans can savor the succulent meat without igniting (again, in theory) the harsh flames of indignation among their cohorts, who are ever attuned to the errant leather sandal strap, the stray lambskin condom, and other violations of orthodoxy.

This is because the stone crab can be partially eaten while the rest of the animal quivers and scurries around, going about its business.

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Truluck's

2401 McKinney Ave.
Dallas, TX 75201

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: Uptown & Oak Lawn

Named for its rock-like oval shell, the stone crab is most prolific in Florida waters, though it is found along America's coast from North Carolina to Texas. Harvesting these crabs is tightly regulated to ensure that they thrive. Rules govern the size of the traps, the length of time they can be in the water, and the methods of trap retrieval.

After the crabs are harvested, their massive crusher claws are twisted off, and the beasts are tossed back into the sea, where they grow a new appendage within two years. The limbs are then graded according to size and weight--medium, large, jumbo, and colossal.

This process seems to fall into line with vegan sensibilities. After all, the reason vegans reject animal products is that their use represents unbridled exploitation and the senseless abuse and destruction of animals in the name of profit, greed, progress, and entertainment.

But here, the animal is neither destroyed nor tortured, just inconvenienced--in the name of profit, greed, progress, and entertainment. The crusher claw, which the crab can jettison of its own volition when threatened (such as when the clumsy accessory gets tangled in octopus tentacles), is used for defensive purposes, and losing it does not impair the crab's ability to feed.

Of course, there is no way to know that the crab doesn't suffer during the amputation process. But there is also no way of knowing for certain that lettuce heads, mercilessly yanked from the earth, don't scream in agony as they're gored, cored, and shredded. Isn't it high time for ethical vegetable treatment?

The new Truluck's Steak and Stone Crab on McKinney Avenue (in the former Fog City Diner location) is a swell place to loosen vegan inhibitions. Truluck's stone crab claws, served chilled with pre-crushed shells, are sweetly succulent, firm, and tasty--probably the best in the city. But if there's anything else you're interested in, fine dining for instance, you'll want to steer clear.

And this is peculiar, because Truluck's sibling in Addison offers reasonably good food and service--or at least it did at one time. Unfortunately, the new location has become a boil on the face of good restaurateuring.

Let's start with service. My first visit was completely devoid of thank yous, you're welcomes, or other pleasantries. Instead, one condescending remark or gesture after another from servers marred the occasion. It was as if customers were an imposition. The wait was inordinate after we were seated at one of the tables near the rear of the restaurant, especially for a dining room so sparsely populated.

When I finally caught the eye of a server as he was delivering salads to a nearby table, he quipped: "Can I just drop this off first?" A strange response, since nothing was asked of him.

When he finally did get around to our table, he delivered no menus. He simply took our wine order and disappeared (we had to obtain menus from another server). Upon his return, he unceremoniously plunked our wineglasses onto the table, reached in front of my companion, and snatched her water glass. "Oh, my mahogany table," he snarled, placing the glass back on its cocktail napkin, already drenched from glass sweat. Were we seated at a precious sitting-room coffee table, or in a public dining room?

The process didn't improve. Menus weren't picked up (we had to slip them to the same server who delivered them), and glasses were slowly refilled. Plus, when I asked our server to repeat a question he asked concerning my entree, he replied "never mind." Huh?

On a second visit, the service wasn't nearly as insulting, but it was equally rickety. Execution was slow and vague, and we were never offered water (must be that mahogany table thing) or bread.

Truluck's food isn't nearly as bad as the service (if it were, the line from the bathrooms would stretch to the valet), but it's still sub-par.

Most of the items on the appetizer platter were served cold. Gulf Coast crab cakes were moist but flavorless. The steak and stone crab quesadillas were speckled with leathery beef (unsurprisingly, the crab was delicious). The spinach-artichoke nachos were the only item served hot. Gooed in gobs of melted cheese, these nachos were hearty and flavorful, especially when dipped in the side of tangy, spicy salsa.

The Caesar salad appeared to be constructed with the toughest portions of the lettuce. It was dry and chewy, and the dressing did little to help.

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