KC’s Crabs & Cues
10428 Jesse DuPont Memorial Highway
Visited January 8, 2011
Beer selection: Shockingly good, considering the location.
Food: Local seafood you won’t soon forget.
“The road goes on forever and the party never ends.”
— Robert Earl Keen
Robert Earl may be one hell of a songwriter, but he’s only half right. Sometimes beer drinkers do hit the end of the road.
As a proud American traveler, I’ve been to all 50 states, touched down at virtually every airport in America, and driven every interstate. Let me tell you, I’ve drank beer along some genuine out-in-the-sticks byways and backwaters in my travels.
But there are a few places in this country that are so remote, you won’t pass through them on your way to somewhere else. Because there is no somewhere else to go.
Steve Earle sings eloquently about the “Hillbilly Highway.”
Well folks, the Northern Neck of Virginia is where the Hillbilly Highway dead ends.
Hard against the Chesapeake Bay, sandwiched between the Potomac and Rappahannock river, old-time Virginians have been making their living off the land and waters of this isolated peninsula for four centuries.
And they can get downright snippy about it too.
Forget any ideas you may have about Southern hospitality – Northern-Neckers can seem closer in kin to Yankees – with a Tidewater twang.
Outsiders are called “come heres.” And, no, that’s not a compliment.
Natives are “been heres.”
But it gets complicated. You can be born and bred in the Northern Neck, but if your granddaddy was a “come here,” you’re still not a “been here.”
Genuine heroes of liberty, Robert E. Lee and George Washington, were both “been heres.”
If you’re still confused, maybe this will help.
As in, “Ay, lil’ Jimmy Jett, don’t you go wunderun ‘rund that there Get N Zip or wun uh dem come-heres ul snutch you up and curry you away!”
Or, “Thum damn come-heres kep buyun up all ur wuturfront rund my grunduddy’s fomland.”
Don’t take it personal. It’s just that Northern Neck “been heres” can be downright hostile to progress, so-called.
You know. Like places to eat and drink beer.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple of places to grab a meal and a beer. Just trying to find one that’s open when you’re actually hungry or thirsty is harder than winning the lottery.
Saturday evenings in January can be especially difficult, apparently.
(One “been here” explained that it’s because the owners don’t want to work on weekends – they too want to be out drinking.)
So you can imagine my excitement when I pulled up to KC’s Crabs & Cues and saw the “open” sign – a rare sight indeed – here in the small town of ‘Good Luck.’ (That’s exactly what you’ll need if you dare to try the oysters.)
But backwater dive bar is definitely NOT the image this place is trying to convey.
I mean don’t get me wrong, Zagats isn’t going to be stopping by any time soon.
But, with a wide range of flatscreen televisions playing Saturday afternoon college basketball and the NFL Wild Card playoffs, a newly-renovated look, and downright high-falutun’ beer options like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on tap, you’d think the owners of this place were here to put their competition out of business.
If there was any.
But it was the owners’ entrepreneurial spirit I really appreciated, as my beer glass doubled as a billboard, advertising local contractors and attorneys.
If I were a local bail bondsman, I’d definitely buy a spot.
Turns out, the local urgent care might be a good prospect too.
As the afternoon slipped into night, the place started to fill up with “been heres.”
Watermen, farmhands, and families alike turned out to enjoy the local seafood right from the Chesapeake Bay. A few dudes eventually stumbled in to use the huge billiards room.
As a “when in Rome” diner — and given the name of the place — I’m sure you’re thinking this will be about that most famous product of the Chesapeake Bay — its world famous blue crabs.
Just one problem.
Chesapeake Bay blue crabs aren’t in season in January.
But oysters are. And that’s a good thing.
Or so I thought at the time.
The only problem with oysters is that there isn’t a lot to them. I’ve eaten seven dozen in one sitting before. And left starving.
That’s why I always order hush puppies with my oysters. And these were some of the best puppies I’ve ever had.
Crispy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside, these hushpuppies had a delicious blend of seasoning and yet were as sweet as homemade cornbread. Hush puppy perfection.
My bucket of steamed oysters came fresh out of local waters. Or so I was told.
Don’t get me wrong. I left happy. Seven pints of Sierra Nevada, half a dozen delicious hush puppies, and three dozen oysters will do that to you.
It wasn’t until the next day that the problems started. And I’m pretty sure the beer and hushpuppies weren’t to blame.
Chills, fever, headache, and fatigue set in Sunday afternoon. I’ll spare you the Monday morning symptoms.
Let’s just say I left Good Luck with more than just memories.
Look, eating on the road is an occupational hazard. One I’m normally surprisingly immune to.
But if these Northern Neckers wanted to lay out the red carpet for this “come here” with — let’s just call it “Robert E. Lee’s revenge” — they succeeded.
This is one “come here” who won’t be coming back.
Rating: Wouldn’t Wear Shirt If They Paid Me.