Rubber gloves. Check. Paper towels. Got it. This ain't no CSI scene. It's just another day, another bib-fest at the newly opened House of Crabs.
Sydney might be all up on American sliders, pulled pork and Reubens, but the Louisiana crab boil had yet to make our shores. Until now.
House of Crabs is the latest addition to the Drink n Dine portfolio, the group that includes The Carrington, The Abercrombie, Forresters, Queenies and Santa Barbara.
House of Crabs
It sits on the first floor of The Norfolk Hotel, once home to Drink n Dine offices. That's all been cleared now into a quirky space of booths, blackboard menus and nautical paraphernalia. Think dinghies hanging from the ceiling, gas lamps, nets and heavy ropes. They've even remodelled the bar so it looks like a boat. Impressive.
That's not a boat, that's the bar!
Crab Boil and swimming pool margaritas
Yabby blackboard special above a corner booth
Lobster fries $12
The menu is split into snacks, bigs and The Boil. Snacks include the Redfern prawn roll ($9), fried school prawns ($14) and a bbq octopus taco ($6) but our merry group of four (Suze, Mr and Mrs Thye and I) get stuck into the lobster fries, a pile of chips doused with lobster gravy.
The smell of lobster is intoxicating when this first hits our table but it doesn't come through taste-wise in the gravy, which is a little on the thin side. Nevertheless it's a fun dish to start with as you pick your way through the bounty of bacon, sweet burst of corn kernels and stretchy layer of melted cheese.
Little neck clams $20 for 500g
Bigs include fried chicken ($18 for a burger or plate), blackened fish ($22) and flat iron steak ($28) but today we only have eyes for the boil. The seafood comes in 500g lots, boiled in a large pot of water then transferred to a plastic bag and drenched with your choice of Cajun, Mexican, Oriental or lemon pepper sauce.
It all arrives steaming hot, and you're encouraged to tip everything straight onto your table - already covered in butchers paper. Forget about using cutlery. Roll up your sleeves and get in amongst it. The bib is highly recommended but we all pass on the gloves. How can you lick the sauce off your fingers if you're wearing those? Aye aye?
Queensland prawns $25 for 500g
The Queensland prawns are king-sized monsters, with easy-to-peel shells that reveal flesh that is firm and sweet. Sucking on those heads is a meal in itself (do it - it's the best part), and the lemon pepper sauce is a winning combo.
We'd ordered our little neck clams with the Oriental sauce but it tastes more of smoked paprika to us (maybe we got the wrong sauce?). It's wickedly hot too, with a burn that builds with every mouthful as you scrape each tender mollusc from its shell.
Yabbies $34 for 500g
Yabbies are a blackboard special today. We score about half a dozen in our 500g bag, tricky ones to release amid a tangle of legs but worth pursuing to find the delicate sweet flesh underneath.
King crab $45 for 500g
And then there's the king crab, their long legs easily cut open to reveal the crabmeat inside. We had ours with Cajun sauce - amped up with cayenne pepper and spices. The only sauce we're really left wanting for is garlic butter sauce. Come on guys... please?
By the time you've finished eating, your table will be piled high with shells, paper towels and debris. You'll probably have sauce on your cheek as well. Cleaning up is easy though, with everything rolled into a giant ball by your friendly server.
Wet towels are the fancy Korean kind, tiny white tablets that are "watered" in a dish until they rise and swell into pillars you can unravel into a moist towelette. They'll clean you up into a somewhat presentable state but bank on visiting the bathrooms too - they're only a few steps away on the staircase landing but just be warned they're unisex. No, you haven't wandered into the wrong bathroom.
Neapolitan ice cream waffle sandwich $12
There's only one dessert on the menu: the neapolitan ice cream waffle sandwich. It's unashamedly over-the-top and lurid, a thick slice of neapolitan ice cream shoved between two supermarket-style waffles, drizzled with a berry coulis, chocolate sauce and showered with toasted almonds.
Messy but crowd-pleasing fun. Just the way we like it.
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House of Crabs
Level 1, The Norfolk Hotel
305 Cleveland Street, Redfern, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9699 3177
Lunch Friday 12pm - 3pm
Dinner Tuesday to Saturday 6pm - 12am
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12/04/2013 09:50:00 pm