Jon Rowley Tribute in Forbes

May 20, 2024

The Pacific Northwest has a historic relationship with seafood. The same could be said of our relationship with the late Chef Jon Rowley.  

Jon Rowley was a long-time friend and advisor of the company, helping establish the oyster program at Water Grill. Since day one at Water Grill Bellevue, the private dining room has been named in his honor.

The Jon Rowley Room in Water Grill Bellevue

This homage was featured in a recent article by Forbes Magazine, which spoke about tributes to late seafood legends in Seattle. Read the full article here!

Softshell Crab Season Has Arrived!

May 8, 2024

The season's first catch of Wild Maryland Softshell Crab has arrived! They're making their West Coast debut at Water Grill.

THE START OF THE SEASON

The end of spring is a wonderful time. For starters, we get more daylight (and eventually recoup the hour of sleep lost at the start of Daylight Savings Time). That means little to Mother Nature though: the world continues to turn, and tilt on its axis, bringing warmer weather to the Northern Hemisphere. It’s here, in the Mid-Atlantic, where we begin to reap those rewards. Watermen take to their boats on the Chesapeake Bay and prepare their traps for the blue crab harvest.

As water temperatures rise, these blue crabs are harvested in anticipation of them molting and shedding their shells.

Learn more about their journey – from blue crab to softshell, and from the country’s largest estuary to one of our favorite seasonal offerings – here.

ABOUT BLUE CRABS

Who says Latin is dead? The language tells us a lot. Exhibit A: the scientific name for blue crab is Callinectes sapidus, meaning beautiful savory swimmer.

These crabs propel themselves through the water using their back fins, or swimmerets. You’ll find this species all along the Atlantic Coast, down through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, and even to some northern parts of South America. But all roads lead to Crisfield, Maryland – the softshell crab capital of the world.

You could say this crab is the Chesapeake’s answer to the jewel of the Nile. It’s the most valuable fishery in the bay.

Photo by Maryland Fisheries Service / Jim Livingston

HARVESTING

Blue Crabs live anywhere from three to four years and reach maturity around one year to 18 months. Growth is very dependent on temperature. Mating occurs from fall through the spring and, interestingly, females can only mate once during their life but can spawn multiple times.  

Females, especially those carrying eggs, prefer higher salinity areas and often migrate towards the mouth of the Chesapeake to spawn. Males prefer lower salinity waters and can often be found closer to river mouths and estuaries.  

Harvesting generally begins in late Spring as water temperatures warm and crabs prepare for their summer growth. This is often marked by the first full moon in May.

A COMING OF AGE

Softshell crabs are blue crabs. They’re harvested throughout the Chesapeake Bay by commercial crabbers when the hardshell blue crabs are deemed to be peelers, or crabs that are ready to molt.

Watermen will look for signs, such as white, pink and red colors on the shells, to tell which crabs will molt, and when. In fact, a red outline, called a “red sign”, on the swimming fin indicates that a crab will molt in less than two days.

These crabs are then transferred to shedding tanks where they are monitored until they molt. The tanks are shallow, and the water temperature is carefully regulated to emulate the crab’s natural molting habitat.

Once a crab molts, it is removed from the shedding tank as soon as possible before the shell begins to harden (which can take as little as a few hours). It’s at this moment when a blue crab becomes a softshell crab. They’re then carefully packed and arrive to us daily – directly from the Chesapeake to our restaurants.

Wild Maryland Softshell Crab at Water Grill

FLAVOR

Iconic, sweet and earthy, softshell crab is a crunchy treat with olive-like notes imparted from the shell.

At Water Grill, our Wild Maryland Softshell Crab is prepared with a watermelon and cucumber salad and a brown butter soy ginger sauce.

Find menus and make a reservation at watergrill.com