Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Boil Bar

Put a bib around your neck, roll up your sleeves, and prepare to get messy at The Boil Bar (Instagram: @boilbar, Facebook: The Boil Bar). The concept at this Scarborough restaurant is simple. First, you decide exactly what you want to eat - choose from Crawfish, Dungeness Crab, King Crab Leg, Snow Crab Leg, Lobster, Shrimp, Mussels, and Clams - then, you have to decide what flavouring you want with your seafood choice. You can order Lemon Pepper, Cajun, Garlic, Curry, or what they call House. The House Sauce is a mixture of all the sauces. Last, but not least, you pick your level of spice. You can go A Bit Spicy, Mild Spicy, Medium Spicy or Super Spicy. That's all there is to it at The Boil Bar.

The concept of seafood boils is believed to have originated in the American South, a staple of both Louisiana Cajun cuisine and low-country cuisine. It first began from the crawfish boil, which eventually expanded to include other shellfish seafood. The live seafood is boiled together in a large stockpot until cooked, usually with no set recipe as cooks like to add their own seasonings and ingredients. Families and large parties often host seafood boils where everyone eats from the communal pot(s).

As far as I know, The Boil Bar and The Captain's Boil are the only two places in Toronto serving seafood boils. I've been asked several times now how the two restaurants compare. Sorry, can't help you there, I've never been to The Captain's Boil.

Bibs and paper towel. The essentials at any seafood boil.

OYSTERS ($1.50 ea)
We started off with a half dozen of raw oysters. Oysters at The Boil Bar are sourced from Diana's Seafood.

The most traditional way to serve food at a seafood boil is to cover tables in newspaper, then strain and pour out the seafood and any included vegetables directly onto the table from the pots. People do not usually use plates, and they eat the seafood right off the table. At The Boil Bar, the seafood came in plastic bags, and it is up to the guests whether they want to pour all the contents out of the bag and onto the table or keep them inside. We chose the latter, less messier option. We picked Medium Spicy for all the sauces and one lb of each type of seafood.

Crawfish, or crayfish, is only offered seasonally at The Boil Bar. It's definitely not my favourite, mostly because there's hardly any meat (it also tasted a bit "muddy" to me). To eat crawfish, you hold it on both sides of the tail joint, rip it apart, suck the head, pick out the little tail meat, and suck the claws. It's too much work for too little return for me. However, if you value sauce more than meat, crawfish is a great option. You get more reward from the sauce with crawfish compared to a meaty shellfish since you'll be at it constantly - sucking on the crawfish's head, its shells, and its claws - in contrast to something you can finish in just one bite.

Meaty mussels. I love it! The Boil Bar definitely didn't skimp out on the garlic. Garlic Sauce was my friend's favourite sauce at The Boil Bar.

Get the Dungeness Crab if you love crab. Remember there's also King Crab Leg and Snow Crab Leg.

I also really enjoyed these clams at The Boil Bar. Although clams are not as meaty as mussels, I prefer the flavour of clams over mussels.

CAJUN UDON ($4.95)
It's nice to take a break from the seafood with these sides; eating the same thing bite after bite can get boring. I thought these two sides were both really tasty with a good amount of kick. The offal had a peppery Szechuan heat to it.

Along with the Spicy Ox Offal and Cajun Udon, we also ordered FRENCH FRIES ($3.95) and GARLIC BREAD ($3.95). Dip the fries and bread in the sauces. So delicious.

Hot and crispy, these grilled sweet corn cakes were basically just sugar and corn. Very sweet. Not really my thing but I can see how some people would like it.

I enjoyed The Boil Bar. I love mussels and clams to begin with, so naturally, I preferred them over crab and crawfish at The Boil BarAs for the sauces, my favourite was the House Sauce. The Garlic and Cajun were good too. Overall, all the sauces were quite flavourful, and the Medium Spicy worked well since it wasn't overly spicy for me. The corn and Harbin red sausages in the bag soaked up all the flavours so don't forget to eat those too.

If you are in the mood for seafood and want to try something new, go check out The Boil Bar. Just remember that you gotta get down and dirty to fully enjoy the experience. Messiness adds to the fun.

*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*

The Boil Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato