Two words that bring joy to my ears: crab shack. And when Daisy and I were looking for a place to catch up in Collingwood it sprang out at me. This cute, unpretentious eatery serves up American style crab boils, boxed sandwich lunches and if you time it right, Creole style gumbo finished off with a sweet dessert.
I'm sitting in the window of Miss Katie's Crab Shack, not quite ready to remove my puffer jacket nor my leather jacket that is underneath it. It was freezing in Melbourne that week (although I see it is now blistering hot) and I woke to a 1 degree morning. And all I can do is stare at the menu lustfully.
Daisy arrives a few minutes later and we confer over the menu before deciding to share a few things. It's probably more than a couple of people should eat for lunch but since when has that stopped us?
The food comes quickly along with a bucket with a plastic crab bib, lobster pick and we are instructed that all shells and bits can go into the empty bucket once we've finished.
The crab boil is a thing of beauty. It's a 300-400g boiled crab with tender meat inside. There are also boiled kipfler potatoes, corn cobettes and four pieces of smoky, spicy pork sausage. The placemats are newspaper so you can get as messy as you want.
The gumbo is a special today and doesn't always appear on the menu. Katie says it is because it is a three day process from beginning to end. And it's the sort of dish that is made for weeks like this where the chill cuts right through to the marrow of your bones. The soup is thick and full of chunks whether it be tender shrimp, slices of smoked ham hock or chicken or vegetables. It comes with a side of rice and spring onions.
I liked the popcorn chicken which is bite sized pieces of spiced and breaded chicken with a drizzle of thick ranch dressing. I do like these better with a few drops of Tabasco.
Dessert is prettier than I expected (I think I expected something more rustic). It's a vanilla short crust pastry base filled with thick peanut butter caramel, banana custard, white chocolate ganache and toasted vanilla marshmallow on top. It is probably best handled with a fork and knife as the filling is firm and jellied and the crust is quite thick. Still the come hither flavours of bannoffee are there and we take to it with vigour, like that of two people who just don't want to go out in the cold again.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like getting messy when you eat crab? What food words bring tears of joy to you?
Miss Katie's Crab Shack
325 Smith St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Monday 3–9pm Tuesday to Saturday 12–9pm
Phone: (03) 9995 4903