I’ve not yet tried Miss Katie’s Crab Shack in North Melbourne, but I am enjoying the southern US regional food movement that is starting to reach us in Australia, such as Po Boy Quarter (review forthcoming). Sydney’s newish House of Crabs, above a horrendously noisy pub in the former inner slum, now hipster central, suburb of Redfern, was top of my list of where I wanted to eat in Sydney. My girlfriend and I love seafood and the novelty factor made it sound like fun.
You order 500g portions of clams, prawns or crab and select a sauce for each. The seafood and the sauce are placed in a thick transparent plastic bag and boiled, then brought to your table. The dining style is casual and informal, very much a US equivalent to the English fish and chips. A warning: don’t go here in your favourite outfit. Even with a disposable bib on it’s messy and there are likely to be accidents.
Here’s what we ate (from the top down): fries with lobster gravy, bacon and corn; squid taco; snow crab in cajun sauce; prawns in garlic creole sauce; the carnage afterwards; and the neopolitan icecream waffle sandwich. The seafood is very fresh and the prices are reasonable, and its an enjoyable experience. The only disappointment to this place came when I asked for coffee as my girlfriend ordered the waffles. ‘We don’t do coffee’ said the waitress in her deadpan Texan drawl.
You wouldn’t get that response in Melbourne. Here’s one fairly uncontroversial difference between Sydney and Melbourne: the former has great Thai food but still doesn’t quite get coffee; the latter has coffee everywhere but doesn’t do good Thai food.