Monday, November 4, 2013

Welcome to the House of Crabs

Cracked freshly open on Friday, the boisterously fun, forward-thinking Drink'n' Dine Group have brought another restaurant to market: the double entendre-filled House of Crabs, upstairs at The Norfolk in the Redfern end of Surry Hills.

House of Crabs, upstairs at The Norfolk, Cleveland Street, Surry Hills
Part Louisiana crab shack, part Aussie seafood showcase and all Drink'n'Dine, House of Crabs is unlike anything we've seen in Sydney.

As a Cancerian and having not ever experienced the southern US-style crab or seafood boil, I was very excited to attend a preview night at House of Crabs last week, just ahead of their Friday night opening.

Crab neon sign at the base of the stairs
The decor is retro kitsch and all about crabs and the sea. A neon sign lights the way from The Norfolk at ground level, leading up to a happy, welcoming red crab and the restaurant upstairs.

Restaurant signage

Dietaries list
A list of dietary warnings greets diners at the upstairs restaurant, having a dig at today's world of diner allergies and intolerances; though I couldn't quite work out which menu item would have seafood extender as an ingredient.

Peach Cobbler (left) and Arnold's Iced Tea (right) mixed drinks
Mixed drinks feature alongside full-hit cocktails and American beers, like Budweiser cans.

Both the Peach Cobbler with rye whisky, peach syrup and lemon juice topped up with soda; and the Arnold Palmer Iced Tea with vodka, tea and lemonade, were on the sweet and light side of mixed drinks that we sampled on the night.

BBQ Creole corn
There is a great range in the House of Crabs snacks menu, including buttery BBQ Creole corn on the cob and superbly smoky sausage with pickles and American mustard. However, for me, it's all about The Boil.

The Boil menu
A selection of seafood is available, priced per 500 grams. Pick a shellfish and one of four sauce options, and get your bibs on (latex gloves optional).

The tables are ready lined with white paper and furnished with Budweiser cardboard six-pack containers of cutlery, including crab picks and crackers, and two bottled hot sauce options.

A bag of crab
It was sheer excitement when the bags of shellfish arrived to the tables, in plastic bags somewhat obscured by rivulets of sauce. It was going to be a messy, hands-on affair - and I couldn't wait.

A long table for crab action
Diners are encouraged to dump the contents of the bag into the middle of the table, which does make it easier to access the shellfish compared to sticking your arms into a large, saucy bag.

Pile of king crab

Blue swimmer crab in Cajun sauce
We were treated to blue swimmer crabs in a buttery, spiced Cajun sauce with plenty of bite. Drink'n'Dine Executive Chef Jamie Thomas later confirmed that the deliciously addictive sauce contained "a lot" of butter.

The relatively small blue swimmer crabs are great eating for those with patience when it comes to shellfish, with flesh in the claws and body, as well as in the legs and flippers with a little more effort.

King crab in Cajun sauce

Prawns in Cajun sauce
Easier to devour were the well-sized Queensland prawns, cooked whole and served again with the Cajun sauce.

The sauce made the prawn heads worthy of sucking clean, while the shells were quite edible too. The peeled prawns were best had after a re-dunk or two into the bag of sauce.

House of Crabs window
Post shellfish feast, hand washing is assisted by 'magical' wet towelettes although there is also a unisex toilet upstairs for the restaurant.

House of Crabs is going to be an instant hit. I already feel like eating there once a week and while The Boil prices are a little heftier than what you'd see in Louisiana (Australia's higher labour rates, rent and all), it's guaranteed to be a good, finger-licking night out. Welcome, House of Crabs.

Food, booze and shoes dined at House of Crabs as a guest.

House of Crabs on Urbanspoon


Simon Leong said...

i love the taste of crabs but hate the hard work involved in getting the meat.

Annie said...

looking forward to checking out this joint. big fan of anything related to the drink n dine team.

Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

Was great seeing you tina. Now what a messy finger lickin' night it was!

Missy Piggy said...

Looks delish and SO messy! I like the idea of being able to dump the crab out onto the bench...imagine doing that at home as a kid! Big trouble would follow.

chocolatesuze said...

everything was so freaking amazing!!

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

An awesome night, and haha butter makes everything better!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Oh god I wonder what would have seafood extender in it? I hope nothing :)

gaby @ lateraleating said...

The gloves are a brilliant idea!

john | heneedsfood said...

Looks great but I agree with Simon. So much work involved! Looks like a whole lot of messy fun. And that corn!!

Sara | Belly Rumbles said...

Clever giving you gloves. Looks like fun.

Amy zhong said...

saw this all over my instagram and had epic crab envy!

Sherrie Huang said...

Crab eating is a messy affair but one that is so worth the effort!

MAB vs Food said...

Getting messy hands is the best part of eating crabs. Love it! Looks great

Jacq said...

A messy but fun night! Good to see you again :)

Tina said...

Hi Simon - It's a lot of work, but worth it most of the time! Otherwise, prawns ;)

Hi Annie - They are doing some great things, aren't they?

Hi Tina - You too! Can't wait to go back for more crabs!

Hi Miss Piggy - I think that adds to the fun and whole experience :D

Hi suze - Yep, deliciously buttery and awesome... ;)

Hi Helen - Butter? Bacon? All good and all bad..!

Hi Lorraine - Not quite sure if it's a joke or not :)

Hi gaby - Yep, but you've gotta get a little messy ;)

Hi John - So much work and fun!

Hi Sara - Sure is, though it can be a race to devour bags worth of shellfish :)

Hi Amy - I have crab envy now.

Hi Sherrie - Agreed (most of the time, anyway).

Hi MAB vs Food - Finger licking and leg sucking, right? :)

Hi Jacq - You too, can't wait to do it again.


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