When you think of classic seafood dining, what springs to mind? Perhaps it's fish and chips on the corner with the family, or even cracked crab and lobster at an upmarket spot, if your tastebuds have a want for that sort of thing. What if we were to tell you that there was an establishment placed at 305 Cleveland Street in Redfern, that could combine elements of both fun, and fine cuisine, all in the same setting - would you believe us? You should.
Up a small flight of winding stairs in the back of The Norfolk Hotel is House Of Crabs, a nautical themed playhouse for all things crustacean based, with an ocean full of other options to drown yourself in. We kicked things off here last Friday night for dinner, and this venue showed us a few things. Well, actually, it completely blew us away with the entire experience. Abby, the restaurant manager, came to our aid and ordered for us, and here's how things panned out.
Before we get into anything in great detail, we should probably mention that things are going to get messy - like, seafood apocalypse up in here. The fact that we all had to wear bibs as we sat down was an early indication. Not a crew to ever be deterred by the prospect of spilling prawn juice on our clothes, we welcomed this with open arms.
We were brought four different items that feature on the House Of Crabs 'snacks' menu, before we went all out with the mains. These are all deliciously varied, the first of which happened to be their fried soft shell crab with chilli, coriander and garlic. We haven't had crab all that often before, but if it's going to be served up to us like this, then put us down for a lifetime supply - easily one of the tastiest seafood meals we've ever encountered. In the centre of the table we have a bowl, filled with buffalo cucumber, blue cheese and peanuts. This adds a fresh, spicy kick to the mix, and the snow crab dip with roasted pimento and malt vinegar chips are a light additive, with a dipping sauce that you will drool over. The last snack encapsulates traditional diner style food in the form of lobster fries with lobster gravy, bacon and corn. We're well and truly warmed up at this point, but the heavy-hitting mains are on the way.
We repeat; THINGS WILL GET MESSY.
Covering the table are a few sheets of butchers paper, and there's a spool of paper towels off to the side. The girls bring us out four picks from 'The Boil' menu, all sitting in plastic bags, with marinate and sauces engulfing every inch of seafood. South Australian mussels, Queensland prawns, blue swimmer crab and crawfish are all flipped upside down to make an incredible spread of flavour that becomes every man for himself as you pick, crack and smash your way through. We can't choose favourites here - everything is just too damn good! After covering both the table setting and ourselves in an array of sauces, we even enjoyed chocolate waffle dogs, with chocolate sauce and chocolate ice-cream. Talk about getting diverse with it.
After all is said and done, we said our goodbyes to the incredibly lovely wait staff, who are not only attentive and quick to help, but their attitude makes this already jovial venue that much more lively. Whether it be getting you drinks, taking your order or general chat, they do what they do, real well. We don't suggest, we implore you to check HOC out. Whether you feel like a light sea meal in an upbeat atmosphere, or a party full of food that will no doubt end up on you at some point, you have to peep it, it's only right.
A massive thanks goes out to Jacqui Owen, Abby and the whole Drink N Dine crew that continue to kill the scene with their amazing taste and service at each venue. Big love!