Anyone who knows me well knows that shellfish is my FAVORITE food. My husband is not far behind me in his fondness for crustaceans. So when we decided to splurge on a nice (read expensive) dinner after doing the responsible thing and using most of our income tax refund on bills, it was a no brainer. I cracked open my infamous Excel sheet (more on that later) and clicked on over to the "Austin" section.
Lo, and behold The Boiling Pot!
Now I'm from New Jersey. I know a good seafood place when I see it, and this was it. On the inside it looked like a shack someone threw up next to a dock (good sign). There were multiple tables both inside and out on a deck, that were covered in plastic, red checked table clothes, a bar with bottles displaying all the cold beers available, a series of ceiling fans operating by a complex pulley system reminiscent of a Goldberg machine and a friendly staff person who encouraged us to "sit where you like".
We found a table, ordered drinks and were quickly issued a basket of yeasty, slightly sweet rolls and butter. We were ready for some shell crackin', so we ordered a variety feast of shellfish. At about $80 USD, it was a bit pricey, but we came to splurge, so *shrug*. The menu states that it will feed 2-3 people, and that seems about right because we did NOT leave hungry.
Our tables was quickly covered with sheets of long, white paper, we were shrouded in plastic bibs and issued cups of melted butter. In almost no time the waitress was back with a giant, steaming metal bowl. The protocol in this place is they just dump your food right on the paper, hand you a small, wooden mallet and let you have at it! And we did! Our selection included a little of just about everything on the menu (except lobster): jumbo shrimp, snow crab legs, king crab legs, stone crab legs, craw fish and potatoes, corn on the cob and sausage. (There was supposed to be blue crab in there too, but they ran out, so we got extra shrimp instead.)
I am happy to report that despite recent concerns about shrimp from the gulf, ours did indeed have TWO eyes. I know, I decapitated them myself. ;)
The food was DELICIOUS. Even the iced tea was excellent. (I am somewhat of a connoisseur because I drink mine with nothing in it, and some places ruin a simple thing by letting it get bitter. Also, drinking iced tea completely unsweetened drives Southerners to near convulsions! But I digress ...) My only suggestion would be that they lighten up on the spice. The craw fish were caked in a mixture of Old Bay and other Cajun spices, which then transferred to the other food and left my lips burning. Next time, I will just ask them to hold back on that; those readers who are capsaicin junkies won't mind this at all.
The crab meat was tender and briney, the shrimp succulent and not overcooked. Eating this type of meal is not just ingesting food, it is an experience. My husband and I laughed and joked. We pounded crab legs with our mallets, sometimes inadvertently jettisoning shell bits and salty juice on each other. My husband taught me the proper way to eat a craw fish. We had FUN.
The staff checked on us occasionally and kept us supplied with ample iced tea and cold beer. They were attentive, without being intrusive, which was excellent.
We managed to finish most of our mound of goodness, save for a few potatoes, sausages and corn cobs. The menu assessment was correct, it would have easily fed another person. Witness the carnage:
When the waitress inquired about dessert I had to waive the white flag, despite an alluring selection. We departed and took a much needed stroll along Austin's famous 6th Street.
I will definitely be back.