By Amy L. Schubert Food Writer Published Nov 08, 2006 at 11:27 AM
Until recently, it was a little hard to find a restaurant that had crab cakes on the menu. When I think crab cakes, I think plump, luscious mounds of blue crab meat or other delectable lump crab meat hand pattied with a mélange of aioli, lightly toasted breadcrumbs, a touch of garlic and other spices, lightly pan fried and voilà!

Some of my favorites in the city can be found at Roots Restaurant and Cellar, 1818 N. Hubbard St., Yanni's Steakhouse, 540 E. Mason St., and my own kitchen. I used to equate the crab cake with the oyster: it was an appetizer selection that you ordered out at a nicer, higher end restaurant, for a special meal or a treat, because they both certainly stand up well to a glass of Veuve Cliquot or Dom Perignon.

But sometime in the last two years crab cakes started springing up on menus like a kit of bunny rabbits, and not in the types of restaurants you would expect, either. Pretty much, if the place serves mozzarella sticks, they now have a crab cake on the menu, too, more often than not in some sort of a roasted red pepper sauce. Now, don't get me wrong, I love roasted red pepper sauce, but it just seems as though it has become the new marinara.

I think that the appearance of crab cakes everywhere you look possibly signifies a swing we are experiencing in Milwaukee restaurants; the move to more upscale, kitschy cuisine; which is fine if the chef and the kitchen can carry that. I'm the kind of diner who leans towards ordering the specialties in restaurants. I'm unlikely, for example, to go to a pizzeria and order their fish fry, or to visit a steakhouse and get their seafood salad; which makes me equally unlikely to order a crab cake at a place I visit for their stellar burgers or barbecued ribs. But who knows? Maybe I am really missing out on something special when I bypass the crab cake and just order the mozz sticks.

Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.

The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.

Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to