How to Live a More Examined Life: Eating Crab Legs in a Minnesota Dive Bar

Fortune does not always favor the bold.

Fortune does not always favor the bold.

Cuzzy's Grill & Bar is a great place to get poisonously drunk.

It's darkly lit, and the furniture has a distinct "purchased at an office closing we found on Craigslist" feel. The walls are lined with dingy, marked-up dollar bills, and I half expect to see Charles Bukowski in the back corner misogynizing his waitress. There's not a drop of sea spray within a thousand miles.

Not the kind of place you wanna get fruits de mer.

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Cuzzy's in all its glory.

Cuzzy's in all its glory.

Still, it's difficult to articulate the kind of affection I have for a place like Cuzzy's.Though the bar s

As I grab the first hunk and split a crabby appendage with my fork, there's a distinct lack of steam. Though the claws, knuckles, and thighs (crabs have thighs, OK?) are chock full of plump, succulent meat, the flesh is tepid. This makes it easy to split the shell and work the pert meat out, but the food is barely warmer than the cup of butter it comes with.

To be clear, the crab legs were cooked correctly. The easiest thing in the world is to overcook snow crab until the flesh is velcroed to the shell, and there are certainly Minneapolis bars that commit just such an error, but Cuzzy's is not among them. They serve a generally excellent entree -- it's just likely large-batch steamed and piled in an unheated kitchen before being plated.

I wanted Cuzzy's to be an oasis of perfectly boiled crustaceans. A Reliant K with a Lamborghini engine. I wanted to walk in, crack a boiled leg, and justify every sanctifying Yelp! review that's been tapped into the internet. I wanted the title of this article to be "Gorge Yourself on Decapod Ambrosia at This North Loop Dump," but that unfortunately wasn't the case.

I also wanted them to be bad -- soupy, spoiled, apropos to the environment -- because getting food poisoning from epicurean hubris is a much better narrative than "well, this was just okay." At the end, I had a Twisted Tea bucket full of exoskeletons and napkins and misallocated expectations.

Cuzzy's seedy surroundings make for the perfect playground for digging into some Chionoecetes stilts. It's dark enough that no one can see the lemon juice and roux on your crewneck, not that any of the other patrons would care if they noticed. There isn't so much as a mirror in the men's room to check your beard for crab tendrils. The place has low expectations, so make a mess, get clarified butter all under your nails and up your goddamn nose, just don't expect it to be above average.

In the end, I get even money on my gamble. It's not as sexy as a jackpot or bankruptcy, but the ROI is nothing to complain about.

At the table behind us, a middle-aged dad splits a pound with his iron-stomached toddler. It's really no place for children, especially considering the dollar next to my head has been modified to read "BONER" across the back, but it's really not the place for seafood, either. Yet, here they both are, and here I am with an empty plate and a belly full of crab muscles contemplating the virtues of being just average.

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