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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

House of Crabs, Redfern

King crab boil, clams, yabbies, prawns and lobster fries at House of Crabs, Norfolk Hotel, Redfern

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.

Boat bar and dinghy lighting at House of Crabs, Norfolk Hotel, Redfern
That's not a boat, that's the bar!

Crab boil and swimming pool margarita signage at House of Crabs, Norfolk Hotel, Redfern
Crab Boil and swimming pool margaritas

There's a huge communal table running down the centre of the main dining area but everyone really wants to settle down into the red-and-white striped booths. Budweiser six-pack carriers have been refashioned into condiment containers. You'll find all the cutlery, crab crackers, scissors and rubber gloves you could possibly need.

Booth seating and blackboard menus at House of Crabs, Norfolk Hotel, Redfern
Yabby blackboard special above a corner booth

Lobster fries at House of Crabs, Norfolk Hotel, Redfern
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 at House of Crabs, Norfolk Hotel, Redfern
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 at House of Crabs, Norfolk Hotel, Redfern
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 at House of Crabs, Norfolk Hotel, Redfern
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 at House of Crabs, Norfolk Hotel, Redfern
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?

King crab boil at House of Crabs, Norfolk Hotel, Redfern

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 at House of Crabs, Norfolk Hotel, Redfern
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.

House of Crabs at the Norfolk Hotel, Redfern

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House of Crabs
Level 1, The Norfolk Hotel
305 Cleveland Street, Redfern, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9699 3177

Opening hours:
Lunch Friday 12pm - 3pm
Dinner Tuesday to Saturday 6pm - 12am

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
LA Koreatown - The Boiling Crab

Surry Hills - Forresters
Surry Hills - The Carrington
Chippendale - The Abercrombie

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31 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/04/2013 09:50:00 pm


  • At 12/04/2013 10:08 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    mmm those crab legs were so meaty and tasty and beyooootiful!

  • At 12/04/2013 10:08 pm, Blogger spoonfulsofgoodness said…

    This place looks soo good! I love my crab!!

  • At 12/04/2013 10:23 pm, Anonymous billy @ a table for two said…

    Hmm.... this is the kind of crabs I am not afraid to catch and get dirty on! LOL

  • At 12/05/2013 5:04 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Aaaaaah so much goodness!

  • At 12/05/2013 7:37 am, Anonymous Gareth said…

    This looks like my kind of place, is it new? Never had yabbies before, is there much meat in those fierce looking claws?ngAaeli 882

  • At 12/05/2013 8:24 am, Anonymous j said…

    Lobster fries, baby!

  • At 12/05/2013 8:31 am, Blogger Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    i think another proper visit is in order. sounds like it's been getting the two thumbs up!

  • At 12/05/2013 8:51 am, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    Man, that does look messy. Yours are the most "real life" photos I've seen in reviews for this place. Craving lobster and crab now!

  • At 12/05/2013 9:01 am, Blogger thesuzchef said…

    This looks SO good. I love meals that are messy and fun - but only if the food is worth it... looks delicious!

  • At 12/05/2013 9:09 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Its not very kids friendly thou. If you are dinning with children you to need eat and be done by 9pm ! I didn't know this when I called to make a booking ( no one asked if I was dinning with children, I didn't mention it - didn't know there was this regulation ) I was only offered an 8:30pm booking (nothing earlier) so I took it, only to arrive and told they can't allow us to dine after 9pm as technically they are consider as a pub and no children allowed after 9pm.

  • At 12/05/2013 1:42 pm, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Oh man! Them lobster fries looks totes amaze! I've never had yabbies before. I guess this is my chance lol

  • At 12/05/2013 3:04 pm, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    When I first read this on Suze's blog, I thought this joint is quite a novelty.

    On second thoughts, it's not exactly cheap for seafood I can prepare at home. Better still, I can wander into my own private unisex bathroom afterwards, have bubble bath, sip on a glass of bubbly, file my nails and ponder over my next crabby meal.

    Pass on this one.

  • At 12/06/2013 12:39 am, Blogger Sherrie @ Crystal Noir said…

    Been dying to come here! Who doesn't want to get dirty eating crabs? :D

  • At 12/06/2013 9:36 am, Blogger Mel said…

    I REALLY want to go here with a big group so I can try ALL THE THINGS but nearly half the people I can think of are vego or allergic to seafood. Nooooooooooooo!

  • At 12/06/2013 4:14 pm, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    i generally dont like getting messy when i eat out but this looks too good ot miss!

  • At 12/06/2013 4:53 pm, Anonymous Amanda@ChewTown said…

    Like Amy, I'm not a fan of getting messy... but as long as I'm not going out afterwards, I'd totally be into this! And its only 5 mins walk from work. :)

  • At 12/06/2013 6:19 pm, Anonymous My Kitchen Stories said…

    Wow must try looks like fun

  • At 12/06/2013 11:17 pm, Blogger Annie said…

    those crabs look so good! good to see a restaurant like this in sydney. prices are not too bad as well when i checked the menu

  • At 12/07/2013 9:10 am, Blogger The Food Mentalist said…

    Ooooh lala. I love the look of the crab fries. Fries and hot chips are one of my greatest weaknesses.

  • At 12/07/2013 9:38 am, Anonymous Amanda @lambsearsandhoney said…

    It looks like there's a bit of a poutine twist happening with those fries - they look good. Actually, it all looks great, although I really don't love unisex toilets - boys are a bit messy in the bathroom.

  • At 12/07/2013 4:47 pm, Anonymous Becca said…

    Yummy! who doesn't like crabs and sea foods!

  • At 12/08/2013 12:30 am, Anonymous Chris @ MAB vs Food said…

    Nothing beats getting your hands all dirty from eating crab. I think I want crab now and it is midnight lol

  • At 12/08/2013 1:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    WOW, just WOW! Yabbies looks too adorable to eat. Lobster fries?! Now that's epic!

  • At 12/09/2013 2:23 am, Blogger irene said…

    This place sounds like fun! And I totally agree with skipping the gloves hehe :)

  • At 12/09/2013 6:18 pm, Blogger CQUEK said…

    Oh yes I love crabs, seafood everything great photos.

  • At 12/10/2013 1:37 pm, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    I am ALL about getting my hands dirty when it comes to seafood! I'm a crustacean fanatic, and this looks heavenly.

  • At 12/13/2013 10:53 am, Anonymous squishies said…

    Holy crap this place looks awesome!!

    And lobster fries?! So there!

  • At 12/15/2013 9:26 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    That looks AWESOME! I want those lobster fries and everything else! haha

    xox Sarah

  • At 12/17/2013 1:45 pm, Blogger thecitygourmand said…

    Yet another themed restaurant. Seafood lovers ahoy!

  • At 12/19/2013 9:24 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh my!! It's Hot'n'Juicy Crawfish right here in Redfern..YES!!!

  • At 12/28/2013 1:13 pm, Blogger ista said…

    Hi Helen, I went there last night & will be heading back for more ... sadly no yabbie special for me.

    I agree garlic butter sauce would be a winner for me!49A


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