No matter how hard you try, you’re going to get messy. But that’s part of the fun at Boiling Seafood Crawfish. Servers bring plastic bags full of seafood, let you dump it on the table and rip into it with your hands — no silverware needed, bibs highly encouraged. It’s also quite social. “You have no choice but to talk to each other,” says manager Vera Daravongsouk. “You can’t play with your phone, you can’t do anything else.” We dive into the Ultimate Experience ($52). 2201 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-459-7777, boilingseafoodcrawfishoh.com
1. The bag: A common misconception is that the seafood is actually boiled in the plastic bag. In reality, it’s all boiled in pots, then put into the bag and topped with a spicy sauce. The house-made concoction of Old Bay, garlic butter and lemon pepper flavors comes in five different spice levels from the already-tingling baby spice to the mind-blowingly hot extra spicy.
2. Snow crab: What Ultimate Experience would be complete without snow crab? The helping of roughly five legs is, after all, the headliner in this down-home symphony. So you might want to ask for more. “I see some people dig into them first,” says
Daragonsouk. “You can add on a pound of crab legs for, say, $22.”
3. Sausage: Sprinkled throughout are a dozen slices of andouille sausage, which cuts the bag full of surf with bit of meaty turf. Paired with the half cob of corn and entire potato, the sausage provides a break amid the seafood extravaganza. “They’re the ones you find in gumbo and things like that,” says Daravongsouk.
4. Clams: Each bag comes with a smattering of 10 to 15 smallish clams, which creates a game of culinary hide-and-seek in the bag or on the table. You’ve got to find them before you can slurp. “They usually fall off the shell,” says Daravongsouk. “So you have to dig for them.”
5. Crawfish: Newbies are easily confounded by these Southern delicacies. “You have to pull the tail and body apart,” says Daravongsouk, with a twist and yank motion. The tail contains the meat. Then, holding the head between thumb and forefinger, “You squeeze [the head] and suck the juice.”
6. Shrimp: Boiling Seafood serves their shrimp with the heads on. So be ready for an adventure. “You just pull the heads off, then shell them,” says Daravongsouk. “It’s really not hard. People just need to get through the eyeballs. People freak out about the eyeballs, but
they’re really good.”
The Boiler 65
6410 Detroit Ave.,
1852 Coventry Road,