Miss Katie’s Crab Shack
238 Victoria Street
+61 3 9329 9888
It was after a wild goose hunt that Cookie Monster, Hughey B, The Angmoh and myself finally found Ms Katie’s Crab Shack. We had keyed in the address into Google maps, which did not have such an address in North Melbourne. We were directed towards Errol Street, which was on the West Melbourne end of Victoria Street. Apple Maps, however, led us back on path and we found ourselves outside The Public Bar, with a greenish hue beckoning us in like a siren’s call.
Decked in the expected nautical theme, Ms Katie’s Crab Shack was anything but a shipwreck. Despite turquoise light spilling over most of the restaurant, warm amber candles glowed softly; not the best for illuminating food on camera but nevertheless, providing the eatery with a marine ethereal glow. The produce is sourced fresh from Queen Victoria Market, just directly across the road.
The four of us initially snagged a table with Jaws as our dining companion, but quickly moved to a different table for easier sharing. As the Angmoh made his way to place the order and pay (cash only, by the way), the rest of us were entertained by the newspaper dining mats strewn across the table. Cookie Monster was enlightened by a waistless thong; think of it as an inverted hairband, just with a much narrower middle.
First up, the crab boil. This is the signature dish, with a blue swimmer crab, corn and kranski cooked in a delicious garlic and buttery sauce. I loved the sausage, it was spicy and full of flavour. A mallet is provided for hammering away at the crab shell, which I found rather unnecessary and messy. I managed to bite away at the shells; while most dentists will reprimand me for this, it totally got the job done. The meat was flakey, soft and lacked sweetness, entirely due to the type of crab used. I would prefer a mud crab, which of course would be a lot dearer. The sweet corn bread is a must for dipping and soaking up the sauce. It resembles a dense muffin with the occasional corn kernel in it, which thankfully, eluded my mouth.
Cookie Monster indulged in the crab burger while the carnivores split the fried chicken. The burger turned out to be disappointing, with the patty fragile and crumbling easily and the mayo and slaw too overwhelming. On the other hand, the fried chicken was superb. It was really juicy and the batter perfectly seasoned and not too floury. It came with a light tangy ranch dip, although I instead helped myself to the hot sauce provided at each table and that certainly gave the dish a kick.
The jumbalaya was most well-received dish that night. Cookie Monster remarked that the texture of the rice resembled congee and I thought it was a watery, overcooked version of paella (in a good way). Either way, the soft rice had soaked up the rich seafood, kranski and tomato flavours, making each a spoon a delicious mouthful.
There were a few hits and misses at Ms Katie’s Crab Shack but the overall ambience, company and corn(free) bread definitely made it an enjoyable experience.