When I ordered the "crab tower" recently at Ouisie's Table, I was a bit wary of receiving an excessively tall stack of seafood that would collapse moments after it was placed on the table, leaving me to eat my way through the rubble. I also wondered if the understated components (crab, vegetables, olive oil) would yield a dish too humble in flavor.
But sometimes artful construction does a lot for a few fresh, simple ingredients. The crab tower turned out to be a demure two-and-a-half-inch edifice comprising layers of marinated tomatoes, buttery avocado, juicy lump crab meat, and crisp micro-greens. Emerald drizzles of basil olive oil and small mounds of sweet, peppery mango ringed the exterior.
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At $14 the dish is by far the most expensive appetizer on the regular menu, but I think high-quality ingredients (see especially the succulent crab) and good presentation deserve a few extra bucks. And while it lacks the richness of other Ouisie's staples like the shrimp and grits and the legendary chicken fried steak, the crab tower's light quality and smooth textures make it a lovely prelude to the heartier gourmet comfort food entrees. Next time I'll pair it with a Pinot Grigio or a lemon-based cocktail.