Enjoyed a simple lunch at Petite Crevette yesterday.
The owner and “INSANE” lobster chucker Neil Ganic was there. I came in as lunch service was ending and noticed he was getting ready to clean his burners and prep for dinner. I started to head back out the door and find another place to have lunch. However, in typical Neil fashion, he insisted that I stay and offered me a glass of wine. I declined the wine because I had a lot to do after lunch and was a bit reluctant to take him up on the lunch offer, not wanting to interfere or be a burden but he made it seem as if it was no big deal. My stomach was practically eating itself so I stayed.
He was generous, friendly, and jovial. Business as usual. Except the phone was ringing off the hook. Two young men were wrapping up their lunch and they overheard Neil and I having a good laugh about the lobster he allegedly threw at a patron. They looked completely perplexed and found it very humorous as well. He even came by my table to show me the fresh sashimi tuna he had just cut up for my dish and asked if it was fresh enough- as a joke. We had another round of laughs and big smiles, especially after we learned about the “big tip” the couple allegedly gave. HA! They left four bucks!
While Neil was cooking, I discreetly asked the two young men how everything was. Both had incredibly nice things to say about the service, atmosphere, and food. One remarked that it was one of the best seafood meals he has ever had. I was not surprised. In fact, right before swinging by, I received a Facebook message from a good friend in Spain who said she still dreams of Neil’s sea bass. But Neil can’t cook a lobster? Got it. He is not going to waste good product throwing it at someone either. I am not saying he isn’t a touch nutty. He is. In a good way. He is not a mean spirited person though. Neil is a blunt straight shooter from a culture and era that doesn’t put up with bullshit. He has that ex military meets Depression era ruggedness and humor of someone who has lived through a lot of tough stuff. It comes in handy. While trying to eat he ended up having to chase off some random stranger who wandered in and was trying to push bootleg movies on me. He could be the brother to the father from Shit My Dad Says easily. And clearly, that kind of humor is not for everyone! He is sometimes misunderstood and that’s why many are coming to his defense. The lobster story does not completely add up and many locals don’t want to see a small business suffer at the mercy of petty gossip. It’s a very small operation and a cherished seafood food place for many locals. You can see him cook from your table and practically touch the front door. Yes, it’s that small. 30 people can maybe fit in there.
It’s kind of weird how this whole fiasco is playing out. People from all over the U.S. have contacted locals to get the real scoop. Word travels fast! I have had quite a few people ask about meeting up for dinner there too. So it looks like I will be back often over the next few weeks. Which is more than fine by me. I like the cozy atmosphere and Neil’s eccentricity. The menu consists mostly of simple and price friendly seafood dishes such as the fresh tuna or salmon burger with hand cut fries, heirloom tomatoes, field green salad, and wasabi mayo ($13), cioppino ($25), two to three whole fish of the day options with two or three sides and salad (market price usually starts at around $25), fried oysters ($10 to $12), cod with curry broth and root vegetables ($15 to $19 usually served on mashed potatoes and sometimes with tiny pieces of candied ginger), corn and crab chowder or seafood chowder ($6 to $8), seasonal salads etc. There is also one steak option ($18) and a hamburger ($10) for good measure. It’s a very casual neighborhood kind of place. Me and the BF try to eat there at least once a month.
After my tuna burger I was still hungry and casually mentioned it but was short on cash (it’s a cash only place). My plan was to snap a few pics of the back dining room (it was once a flower shop) then head to an ATM and maybe snag a chowder to go.
When I returned from the back room, there was a giant bowl of corn and crab chowder on my table. Freshly picked crab meat and all. He insisted several times to “just eat it and forget about it.” Yeah, he’s such a self absorbed and egocentric person. This is very typical of him too. Like I said before, it was business as usual.
As I was leaving, two gentleman came in, shook my hand and greeted me, cracked a few jokes etc. They came by to let Neil know they were ordering a birthday cake for his son and they started chatting about his concert on Friday.
The place was packed again last night too.
Hate him or love him, and probably much to the chagrin of the diners who sent in the story to Eater, it’s looking like Petite Crevette is here to stay.
Columbia Street Waterfront District
144 Union St
Entrance on Hick St
(between Columbia St & Hicks St)
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Cash only and BYOB
Lunch Tues-Sun 12-3
Dinner Mon-Sun 6-11