Seafood boils like those at Boat House don’t have the most elegant presentation, but no one’s there for the appearance anyway. What appeals to people is the flavorful sauces and copious amounts of shellfish. It’s a very casual and messy dining experience, so in order to fully enjoy this, you’ll need to cast your reservations aside and just dig in with your hands.
These boils are rooted in Louisiana Cajun cuisine, but they’ve become popular throughout the Gulf Coast. Asian-run Cajun boil restaurants have also dotted California’s food map, and Boat House, New York City’s first seafood boil spot, followed suit back in 2012.
The Blue Point oysters were plump, fresh and shucked well. A few drops of cocktail sauce and lemon juice were the only accompaniments I needed. Next time I’ll give the Canada or Japan oysters (the other two options) a try.
Now for the main event. Pricing goes by pound, and two pounds usually does the trick for me. Take your pick from the various seafood options, like crawfish (the original boil choice), shrimp or snow crab, then choose a sauce (or combine two). There’s Rajun Cajun, garlic butter and lemon pepper… or, for an extra dollar, the Whole Sha-Bang, which includes corn and sliced sausage. The default sauce for the Whole Sha-Bang is garlic butter, but you can substitute it for another one.
We ordered the king crab, clams and stone crab in medium-level spicy Whole Sha-Bang sauce (pictured up top). Each item is boiled in the sauce, then arrives steaming hot in a plastic bag holding even more sauce. Put on your provided bib and gloves, grab a shellfish cracker and get started.
The crabs arrived a bit cracked already, so they soaked up a lot of sauce. This was a pro and a con. On one hand, the sauce overpowered the king crab’s natural flavor. On the other hand, it took out some of the legwork.
The stone crab claws had a decent amount of sweet, tender crab meat. However, the clams were by far my favorite of the three. They were juicy, and the small shells also cradled a bit of sauce, so it was like getting a clam shot infused with bold, spicy, garlicky flavor. The sauce-covered sweet corn and meaty sausage slices added even more levels of flavor to the seafood we were devouring.
Boat House offers fruit smoothies to quench your thirst, but an even better deal is their green tea and soda option. The refreshingly cold green tea had just a hint of sweetness and was perfect for washing down our seafood. The best part? Unlimited refills, which we made sure to capitalize on.
Pro tip: There’ll inevitably be boil sauce left at the end of your meal. Don’t let it go to waste. Take it home and cook it with your own seafood, corn, sausage, spam… whatever. The possibilities are endless.