Best Bet: Crab bisque

Professional wrestler Deven Tribble celebrated his 23rd birthday with a bowl of blue crab bisque at Sharky's on Tuesday.

Photo by Michael Donahue, Michael Donahue/The Commercial Appeal // Buy this photo

Professional wrestler Deven Tribble celebrated his 23rd birthday with a bowl of blue crab bisque at Sharky's on Tuesday.

The first words out of my brother-in-law's mouth when he saw me at the recent Youth Villages Soup Sunday were "crab bisque."

I heard that more than once; people were referring to the blue crab bisque at the Sharky's Gulf Grill food station. It tasted good in that little Styrofoam bowl at Soup Sunday, but it tasted great in a china bowl at Sharky's.

If I see "bisque" on a menu, I'll order it. I love all kinds, including lobster and butternut squash bisques. This one is exceptional.

Sharky's executive chef Tim Foley said his blue crab bisque is "a collaboration recipe, I believe. It's been floating around with me over 10 years."

He served it when he was executive chef at the old Blue Fish restaurant in Cooper-Young. After moving to Sharky's, he said, "The first thing people asked was 'Bring the bisque back. Bring the bisque back.' "

What's his secret? "I put a ton of crab in it," he said. "Claw meat of the crab in my opinion is like the dark meat of chicken. It has more flavor."

Foley uses "fresh crab right out of the Gulf."

He also uses a special cream sherry -- Fairbanks, which has "just the right sweetness and the right oak to it." And, he said, the sherry doesn't overpower the rest of the ingredients: flour, half and half, celery and onions. Foley purees his celery and onions so they're "nice and smooth."

The blue crab bisque made its way to the menu after Foley made it for a former Blue Fish customer who brought a group of 20 women to Sharky's. When Sharky's owner John Golon tried it, he asked Foley, "Why is this not here every day?"

"It's creamy and crabby with just a hint of sherry," Golon said. "It's just the right amount of saltiness and crabiness."

The bisque outsells the other two soups on the menu, Foley said. They go through 41/2 gallons of it a day.

Professional wrestler Deven Tribble, who was celebrating his 23rd birthday with his dad, Derrell Tribble, tried some of the bisque. He'd already eaten calamari and two dozen oysters. "I've got an iron stomach," he said. "I eat eight to nine meals a day."

After tasting it, he said, "When you first put it in your mouth it's kind of sweet. That kind of fades away. Then you taste the crab.

"I have a new respect for the bisque."

Sharky's Gulf Grill is at 6201 Poplar; (901) 682-9796.

Michael Donahue: (901) 529-2797;

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