Friday, March 5, 2010

Hot n' Juicy Crawfish

Today Ian and I went to Hot n' Juicy Crawfish, an old favorite located on Spring Mountain between Decatur and Jones. Hot n' Juicy is definitely the messiest eatery in town, and all the more fun because of it. Sometimes when I give that description people don't want to try it, but it would be a shame not to. Besides the fun of eating here, the food is deee-licious. How can you really go wrong with fresh seafood, butter, and Cajun seasonings?

Today I ordered one pound of the crawfish ($9.99) and Ian ordered one pound of the snow crab ($13.99). We both asked for the Hot n' Juicy special seasoning, extra spicy! You are free to choose your heat level as well as the style of seasoning you prefer - Louisiana Style, Juice Cajun, Garlic Butter, or Lemon Pepper. Besides crawfish and snow crab, you can also order dungeness crab, blue crab, king crab, or shrimp.

The first time I had a crawfish boil was at my brother's graduation from University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. I remember them dumping huge buckets of steamed crawfish onto the tables and everyone would just have at them, discarding the shells and heads onto neighboring tables. At Hot n' Juicy it's a little different, but not much. You are given bibs and your table is covered in white plastic that is accessorized with your own roll of paper towels. They bring your crawfish in plastic bags that are tied at the top to capture the heat. When you open the bag you get an aromatic burst of spicy steam that gets you really excited for what you are about to enjoy. This is where the fun starts. Crawfish are peel and eat little buggers that require somewhat of an experienced eater to navigate through them in order to get to the savory bits. First you must detach the tail, which you peel just as you would the tail of a shrimp. Then, and this is most flavorful part, you must suck the head by gently squeezing it into your mouth so you can get all the juices and inner goodness out of it. If this sounds totally disgusting to you, go for the crab. They supply you with crab crackers, but Ian and I agree they should probably pre-crack them for you to make the experience easier and allow all the seasoned butter to seep into the meat. Whatever you decide to get, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

If you order two pounds of crawfish you get a hunk of corn on the cob and a red potato in your bag, but since we ordered one pound each of different items we opted for the Cajun fries ($2.99). These came out hot n' spicy with a side of cooling ketchup. We managed to reserve some of the fries to dip in the juices at the bottom of our bags, and this was way better than the ordinary condiment. Who would have thought that you could make French fries even tastier and more unhealthy with the addition of seasoned butter? I guess Europeans serve their fries with mayonnaise, so I don't feel too guilty or out of line.

By the time you are finished, it looks like Hurricane Katrina has hit your table (see photo below) leaving a mass of wet and crumpled paper towels in her wake. This is certainly not a prime location for a wedding reception, but if you don't mind getting your hands dirty in the name of taste, you really should try Hot n' Juicy almost any other time.

Today's Food Rating: 8
Today's Drink Rating: 9 (bottled beers for $2.75 is a relative bargain)
Ambiance: 7 (extra points awarded because our picture is on the wall, along with countless other enthusiasts)

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