Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Big Easy, South Kensington

I love America. I love America so much that when I meet an American person I am compelled to tell them how much I love their country and relentlessly remind them that...'I travelled through America for three months'. It's actually quite embarrassing really. I go on and on until they shuffle away from me and get back on a plane and leave.
So, on that note, did you know I travelled through America for three months....?

Between the belly-wobbling burgers and all those vats of grease, America has some really wonderful food (New Orleans and Texas especially) and one thing they do very well is seafood. 

In Austin, Texas, on a particularly fragile morning-after-the-night-before, I encountered a real, full-on crab shack and I've been looking to recreate that experience ever since.

After a belly full of tequila and a night sleeping in the shared bathroom of a hostel, what could be better then a restaurant where rather than having to engage your brain, there are only four choices - crab, Andalucian sausage, potato, or a mix of all of them.

The whole place was covered in a wipe-clean polythene material and after we were seated, without saying a word, the waitress came and tied plastic bibs around our necks. You couldn't get any further away from fine dining then this, which had us feeling like a group of perverse adult babies.
It wasn't until I sat with what resembled dentists tools and desecrated a poor little crab, covering everything in a five foot radius, that I understood. 

The food was dumped on our table, there were no plates, no knives and forks and when we were finished the waitress simply scooped up the entire polythene tablecloth with all the leftovers inside and threw it away. 

Trying to be comical with bib in Austin
Unflattering picture of me with pile of sausage in Austin

It's a long way from sophistication but the focus was on the food, which to this day, is some of the best I've ever eaten.

Big Easy, on Kings Road, is of the same vein except it pegs itself as 'deluxe crabshack dining,' which translates as good simple food but with none of the adult baby polythene stuff. Their strap line is 'put a bit of south in your mouth,' which takes a whole new spin of food porn and is probably best left alone by me.

Once you step inside things are slightly gimmicky and there is a sniff of naff chains like Old Orleans about it BUT in fairness, it does have the desired affect of transporting you away from the bijou shops of Kensingston into a more brash, 'no frills,' atmosphere. After all, I can hardly see the cast of Made In Chelsea (regular Kings Road residents) donning a polythene bib over their Prada and smashing the crap out of some shellfish. 

If you too want somewhere that you can eat a lobster that weighs the same amount as a small baby (6 and a 1/2 pounds was on offer) then this is the place to come.....


We had Calamari (£7.95) to start which was perfectly cooked, delicate and crispy rather than greasy and came out of the kitchen very quickly.

But it's the main course that I was excited about......I came to eat seafood and this is what I did.

I ordered the deluxe lobster bake, a whole fresh 1 ¼ lb Maine lobster, jumbo shrimp, mussels, fresh Atlantic crab claws & new potatoes, served in a garlic white wine sauce. It was a little pricey as they had to upgrade our lobster size so ended up as £32.90 but there was easily enough there to be shared between two.

For me, this is 'i'm on death-row,' last-meal, kind of stuff and the taste took me right back to my travels in the states years ago. Just incredible quality seafood, cooked simply and perfectly.
I would give the Big Easy a 9 out of 10 for my almost faultless food. In fact, probably quite controversially, I would class the quality and value of the seafood at Big Easy as far beyond that available in, fine-dining, fishy favourite, Scott's.

But I can't vouch for everything on the very extensive menu which also compromises a heavy amount of carnivorous options.

My guest ordered the surf and turf (£39.15) a whole lobster served with sirloin steak and whilst he enjoyed it he regretted not opting just for seafood, which seemed to be where they really show their flair.
The second most authentically American thing about Big Easy, is their incredible service. The waiting staff were the perfect balance of friendly without being intrusive and polite but relaxed.

We finished up with a huge Ice-cream and hot chocolate sauce waffle, it was indulgent, delicious and the home-made waffle was perfectly crisp. Pure indulgence food.

With their weekly special offers, Big Easy, has some pretty good deals on during the week (14.99 for lobster, chips, salad and a Margarita) as well as an extensive cocktail menu.

 If you want fresh seafood without the frills come here but for gawd sake don't bring a date like the man next to us did. She was horrified when he accidentally flicked a bit of a crab shell in her eye. There's very little that's romantic about that.....

Big Easy on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. As an American, I have to say that one thing we do right (and at least we have one thing...) is seafood, especially lobster! Hoping to see some of the highlights of your American travels on Triptease :)