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!
173 King Street East