November 14, 2016

First Impression: Hooly Crab

Gather 'round seafood lovers, I've got a fun one for you.  Brought to you by the peeps behind August 8, Hooly Crab is Hamilton's first seafood boil joint. These types of seafood-in-a-bag restaurants have been popping up all over the GTHA so I was over the moon to find out Hamilton was getting one. Plus the branding is hella fricken cute too - amirite

Before we get into it, there are four easy steps to enjoying your Hooly Crab experience. 
Step 1: Choose your seafood or meat 
Step 2: Choose your flavour 
Step 3: Add your sides 
Step 4: Choose your heat level 
We went with two pounds of shrimp ($12.95/lb), two pounds of clams ($12.95/lb), and one pound of mussels ($10.95/lb).  We also added sausages ($6.95), corn ($1.99 for 3pc), fried calamari ($7.95), fried rice ($12.95) and garlic bread ($3.95).  I don't know about you, but usually the words "Seasonal Price" is aka "Hella-expensive" so we stayed away from those items but if you're curious, the crawfish was $17 a pound and the lobster and dungeness crab was about $30-$35 a pound. 


Gloves and bibs are offered and highly recommended. It gets incredibly messy. How do you stay clean when you're sucking the brain juices out of shrimp? I haven't figured out a technique yet, so you let me know if you do. 
If you're a little squeamish and don't like to get down and dirty, this might not be your jam. Cause yes, everything gets served in a bag - and no cutlery for the seafood. Any plates you do actually get are plastic. 
Yes, you want the shrimp with the head on. Cause if you're a legit seafood lover, you'll know half the tasty bits are the brain guts. Do not judge me, join me.

The fried rice was great and had little chunks of shrimp and scallops, so that kind of justifies the $12 price tag. Right? It did a really great job of soaking up all the yummy sauces. We ordered Cajun, Holy Crab Secret Sauce and Garlic,  it was all pretty fabulous. And really, all the flavour comes from the sauces, so choose wisely kids! Both the fried rice and garlic bread did a fantastic job of sopping everything up. 
We paired the mussels with the garlic sauce and it was just littered with chunks of garlic so you better love the stuff. Like, fricken really love it. Luckily we did, and luckily the bathrooms come with mouthwash.
The clams were a little gritty but still tasty, especially smothered in Hooly Crab Sauce. By the way, whichever sauce you decide on, one of them has to be this one; buttery, garlicky, and spicy, all my favourite flavours!

Side note, all the sauces ended up getting realllllllly salty by the end.  Maybe it's because all the seafood is just sitting in the marinade, who knows. It didn't bother me too much cause we cut the saltiness with an extra bowl of white rice.  
The sides were delicious and pretty well priced. Oh wait, the sausage was crap. Didn't really pick up the sauce very well and I'm pretty sure it was just slices of kielbasa. I was expecting chorizo or andouille or something more flavourful.  So, needless to say, I probably won't order the sausage again. The fried calamari was prepared exactly the same as August 8 but with bigger pieces of squid. It was good, but nothing to get a chubby over.  
The seafood graveyard ladies & gents. I mean it when I say: you'll make a mess. There is no avoiding it. So, don't bother wearing your Sunday best, and don't leave your eating hair tie at home. Ladies, you know what I mean. 
Overall, I had a great time, and I would definitely go back. It is a little on the pricy side but not too over the top. Our bill for four people was a little over $100. Did I walk away satisfied? You bet, but was I full? I could still eat (but really, I could still eat after most of my meals). 

Oh, and the food isn't actually cooked in the bags, just served in them. But it's definitely a way of dining that you have to get use to. If you get over the plastic bags and the gloves, it's a great night out. They take reservations and they're open till 11pm on most nights. So let them wrap it up in that bag, and remember: no glove, no seafood love!


Happy Eating!



Hooly Crab
173 King Street East
Hamilton
www.hoolycrab.com

October 3, 2016

#CHANtober Food Tour Giveaway

Who wants to go for a trip down the yellow brick road? Follow along and you'll be in for a delicious treat.


Sorry, that intro was pretty f//cken cheesy, but not the super rad video made by I'm Mad Hungry

If you've been paying attention, this weekend was the official kickoff to my annual #CHANtober festivities. If you're new to the game, Chantober is the celebration of my birthday month. Yes. I spend the entire month celebrating my birth. Why the heck not? I use it as an excuse to gather my friends, cross off a few things on my bucket list, and drink lots of champagne.

I know what you're thinking, "Who gives a #$%^ Chan, get on with it". Okay, okay, gather around kids, this is going to be a good one.  I want you to celebrate with me. The amuse bouche was a flash giveaway this weekend to a four course tasting menu at Lake Road Restaurant, and this... is the pièce de résistance.

Seriously, go get a new pair of panties, cause they're about to get soaked!

A handful of amazing restaurants and I have teamed up to give away an astronomical, coma-inducing food tour.  Yep! Get your stretchy pants out ladies & gents. Here is your opportunity to dine at some of the city's best restaurants, and we pick up the tab. (More like we hand you a stack of gift cards worth over $700 and you can eat to your hearts content.)

Now, who's part of the #Chantober Food Tour?


Papa Leo's | 638 Concession Street | $50 gift card 


Papa Leo is the OG of Brunch in Hamilton. He's killing it on Concession Street and if you haven't been up there for his #Uptown Crab Cake Benny, or his Papa's Eggs, or his heavenly fluffy pancakes and Portuguese chorizo, you're doing it all wrong. He was doing the whole local food supplier thing even before it became cool.


Jonny Blonde | 664 Concession Street | $25 gift card

You guys know my love for Jonny runs pretty deep. They're the absolute king of tasty sauces and carbs. All his sandwiches come on house made bread. If you follow them on social, you've probably seen Jonny butchering a whole pig or whipping up bread from scratch. I was so thrilled to see they finally found a permanent home on Concession St (you can still catch their food truck out and about too).




Cake & Loaf | 321 Dundurn St. South | $25 gift card 


I definitely consider Cake & Loaf Hamilton's sweethearts. I often run into Josie and Nickey (the owners) at community events and fundraisers. They're always giving back. Everything is made from scratch and served by one of the best teams in the Hamilton hospitality industry. From their savoury breads and pies to your favourite childhood desserts (made from scratch) - they do it all.

If you're smitten for some homemade pie - check out their Pie Pop Up Oct 9th 8am - 1pm. We had a C+L pie at our Thanksgiving last year and it was a hit! 



Aberdeen Tavern | 432 Aberdeen Ave | $25 gift card 


Whenever I walk into Aberdeen Tavern, I want to stay forever. Just curl up in a corner booth and stay for days. There's something about the space, the warm service, and the incredibly classic dishes that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Check out their recently launched dinner & lunch menu or make a reservation for brunch - you'll love everything. And get a cocktail too! 


Brux House | 137 Locke Street South | $50 gift card 


The mussels at Brux House are phenomenal and the pretzel sticks with cheese & beer sauce is hands down one of my favourite Hamilton dishes. 

Like, Ever. 

I've been known to order not one, not two, but three to four orders in one sitting. I'm getting a chubby just thinking about those pretzels now. These guys do classic dishes executed very well in an incredibly cool and chill atmosphere. 


Burnt Tongue | 182 Locke St South & 10 Cannon St East | $25 gift card


You guys know all about The Burnt Tongue and their fantastic, almost-better-than-mama's soup right? They were one of the first restaurants I wrote about my first year of blogging and since then, they've opened up a second location on Locke St.  

Don't assume they're all just about soup though, they make a mean burger and fries too. They're a prime example of K.I.S.S - keep it simple stupid. 


Mattson & Co | 225 Locke St. S | $50 gift card


I know you've seen that gorgeous wrap-around patio, and you've eyed those floor to ceiling windows. Have you gone in and sat down for a scrumptious meal? What about some eggs and champagne for brunch? How does a deep fried egg skillet with Montreal smoked meat or Smoked Salmon and Prawn Benny sound? Mhmm, I got you hungry didn't I?


The Other Bird | check website for locations | $40 gift card 


Ok, I know. I'm obsessed with Brunch. But we were deprived of Brunch for so long in this city, I have to indulge. These chilli cheese dog tacos are available only on The Mule brunch menu, and for Taco Tuesday. Don't miss out on them. Seriously, my all time favourite thing on their menu. And they have a lot of yummy things on the menu. 

Of course you're welcome to redeem this gift card to any The Other Bird restaurant. If oysters are your jam or some chicken liver brûlée? It's all yours boo. 

A few Chantobers ago, Erin (Co-Owner of The Other Bird) gifted me with a tub of Chicken Liver Brûlée and it was my favourite birthday gift that year. I ate it all in one sitting. It's a must try dish if you're ever at Rapscallion or 2 Black Sheep. #NoRegrets


Hambrgr | 49 King William St | $50 gift card 


Giant drinks, giant burgers, giant personality - Have you guys heard of HamBrgr? (That was rhetorical, duh). These guys know how to have fun with their food without compromising on quality and flavour. From their salads (yes they have those too), to their drinks, to their burgers - I never regret a bite here. 



FSH & CHP | 47 King William Street | $50 gift card 


Only a few months old and FSH & CHP is already one of my new favourites. The chowder, lobster mac, and mussels are always a hit for me. Don't be fooled by the name, they do way more than just fish and chips and they do it very well - even without the vowels. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Their "In a Box" meals come fried or boiled and it's the perfect meal for groups too.



Pokeh | Hamilton Farmers’ Market / Lower Level West Side / 35 York Blvd | $20 gift card

Do I even have to tell you guys about Pokeh? They are Canada's first poke bar (yesssss all you Toronto joints come 2nd to these guys). They're serving up bowls of beautifully seasoned chunks of tuna or salmon. Every visit can literally be a different dish.  You can get white or brown rice or a cucumber noodle bowl and there are about a zillion and one different toppings and sauces to play with. These guys are a Hamilton gem. 


Mesa | 255 James Street North | $50 gift card 


It's all good. The burrito, the nachos, the panela, the tacos, you won't regret it. Mesa is the kind of joint you can visit two to three times a week without feeling guilty or taking out a loan to pay for the bill. 

Big portions and even bigger flavours. Pro tip: always get the large burrito cause they make an awesome breakfast the next day paired with scrambled eggs. One of the servers at Mesa taught me this and it is fricken brilliant. 


Lake Road | 229 James St N | $25 gift card


With awesome cocktails, wonderful dishes, and an incredibly warm atmosphere Lake Road is one of my favourite date night spots. It's a great excuse to shower, maybe comb your hair a little and just spoil yourself with a hella good meal. The hospitality here is absolutely wonderful. 


Mezcal | 150 James St S | $50 gift card 


Oh hey, have you heard of this little taco and tequila joint? They make bad boys like this pork belly burrito (below) and these curvalicious churros (above). Oh, and they might do a taco here or there. From the music, to the dranks, to the tacos, Mezcal is that one friend that's always down for a good time. 


The Ship | 23 Augusta St | $30 gift card 


I always refer to The Ship as Hamilton's Miss Congeniality. Everyone I've talked to has had a 'this one time at The Ship' story and it's always a pleasant one. With their incredibly down to earth food and staff, they're really just a delightful place to spend your evenings. They're mostly known for their burger and beer menu, but I promise they have delicious girly drinks and other yummy plates of food too (if beef & beer ain't your jam). I feel silly even telling you about The Ship, cause I know you guys all know about them already!



Delirious Burger Co | 1008 King St West Unit B | $20 gift card 


Above is a pic of my first ever CHANanator. Below is the CHANanator I ordered a few days ago. Still so delicious and jaw dropping, literally. Owner, Ben doesn't even have a freezer guys. His patties are made fresh and cooked on a flattop grill. Can we all say "yum" to those crispy bits of meat only a flattop can give you? Oh, and that brown deep fried patty? It's two portobello mushrooms stuffed with cheese, breaded and deep fried. They don't mess around.

(Hey guys, it's Matt. I don't mess around either! I get the Mattanator - a Chananator with an extra patty! I just wanted to exemplify how amazing it is that he doesn't have a freezer! Think about it! His burgers and fries are ALWAYS fresh! Ok, back to editing now)


Romano's Ristorante | 1275 Rymal Road | $100 gift card


I'm officially obsessed with the Linguine Pescatore and Seafood Platter from Romano's. I've ordered these two dishes every single visit. I'm sure the other items on the menu are equally as good (that's what my dining mates usually tell me) but I can't stray from these two classics. 

Incredibly unpretentious, Romano's quickly rose to become one of my favourite Italian joints (maybe even my most favourite). The menu is approachable, the staff is always super chill, and duh, the food is bomb. 


BONUS: Nique | 123 James St N | $20 gift card 


Here's a little treat for you guys. 

This place isn't even open yet but everyone's all "When is that sushi nacho place opening?!" These kids sure know how to do it. They held a pop up at my co-working place Co-motion a few months back and ever since, it's been a super long ass countdown for - you guessed it, Sushi nachos.
OKAY! Are you keeping up?  That's 18 restaurants and over $700 in gift cards up for grabs. Wanna know how you can walk away with the greatest foodie giveaway Hamilton has ever seen? 

You've got from now until Oct 31st to enter. The winner will be announced the first week of November. And obviously you must be able to get your butt to Hamilton to redeem the gift cards.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway



*Disclamer* A big thank you to all the restaurants who generously donated gift cards to this massive giveaway. FYI Some gift cards will not be redeemable for alcoholic beverages.  And a big Thank You to I'm Mad Hungry for filming & editing the promo video.