The Juicy Seafood
4671 Airport Blvd.
Mobile, AL 36608
I wasn’t sure what to expect.
It was an odd day. The trip I planned was to have lunch in a restaurant and bring enough home for dinner. I’ve never minded eating alone, often preferring it, but I usually bring someone along for reviews. If for nothing else, having a copilot gives me the chance to try more menu items. Today, the issue would be remedied by ordering two meals.
I know very little about The Juicy Seafood, other than it is a fast-growing chain with the closest in Montgomery prior to ours opening on Airport Boulevard. There is even one in Manhattan, and would you believe the prices are close to the same? Ours hasn’t been open long, but after months of waiting, it feels like it has been there for a year.
I roll into the parking lot of the former Zea location and am greeted at the front door by a statue of a fisherman or pirate. Once inside, the second greeting was an unpleasant smell. I tried to keep an open mind as I was seated ’neath a 5-foot-long Great White statue in full-blown attack mode. It smelled much nicer on this side of the restaurant.
My waiter was friendly, and informed me something had happened to the unsweetened tea urn, but they were working on it. Water with lemon would be fine while I wait for the repairman to solve the problem. I got the day started with a bowl of clam chowder ($4.99). I was kind of in a mood where I didn’t want to like it, but I did. If I had to be picky and find something wrong with it, I’d say the spoon was too small. It took a while to finish it, but I appreciated the Louisiana Hot Sauce on the table.
I saw raw oysters on the menu, and hey, let’s face it, “R” months don’t last forever. A half dozen ($11) sounded like a good idea to me. Nice and plump, these medium-sized bivalves looked appealing. The one thing the shucker neglected to do was free the oysters from the half shell. With no silverware on the table, I struggled with my tiny oyster fork and made a mess of five out of six. I guess I could’ve used my spoon, but at the time I was yet to finish my chowder.
I asked my waiter if he knew where these oysters came from. He replied, “You know, I never thought to ask.” And he never did.
I moved on and ordered a fried oyster basket ($13) from the “Something Fried” portion of the menu. Given the choice between regular fries or Cajun, I chose the latter. They came out very quickly with small cups of cocktail, tartar and horseradish. At this point my waiter handed me a fork. It was kind of weird. I guess I’m used to rolled silverware or forks and spoons on the dish, so the naked fork took me by surprise.
The oysters had a flour batter that was a little much for me, but I’d not had carbs since the National Championship. I was enjoying my cheat day. The Cajun fries had an orange hue to them, which I guessed meant Cajun, but if you closed your eyes and let the flavor speak, they tasted like regular fries. That’s OK. I like regular fries, too.
I also liked how the waxy paper in the basket was made to look like newspaper print, and had a blast doing the crossword in my head.
Dinner, as I mentioned, would be going home with me. There is a specials section of the menu for boiled seafood that changes daily. I was offered a choice of the Thursday or Weekend specials. I chose the Weekend Special ($33.99). It boasts a lobster tail, half-pound of snow crab (one cluster), half-pound “shrimps,” one corn and two potatoes. The Thursday Special would have been the same except for the lobster tail being replaced with more snow crab.
For this affair I was offered a seasoning choice. Cajun, garlic butter with seasoning, lemon pepper or the Juicy Special (all of the above). I chose Cajun garlic butter. For heat, I opted for spicy.
The afternoon went by and I felt a little queasy and unsettled. By dinner I’d calmed down with a little Sauvignon Blanc prescribed by the girls at Red or White. Feeling better, Katie and I dove into our sack of seafood and the sauce that came with it.
The lobster tail was split in half, which helped it hold more sauce. The shrimp, headless and in split-backed shells, were cooked perfectly as were the crab legs. Everything in the sack was good, and the buttery sauce had some spice, but it wouldn’t kill you. That is unless it goes down your windpipe. Thankfully when it happened to me, I was in the kitchen of my own home. Surely you can imagine how difficult it is to uncork wine with Cajun butter all over your hands. It doesn’t wash off very easily.
The half ear of corn and two red potatoes were something to remind me of backyard crawfish boils yet to come. All of dinner was really good, and should you follow our path, know that we ate it standing over the sink. Back at the restaurant, those brave enough to try this did so with plastic gloves and bibs tucked into their shirts.
I’m a bit mixed on this one. The service was fast and attentive enough. I probably wouldn’t eat oysters there again. The boiled seafood was delicious. It didn’t seem like a lot of food. I dropped $80 pre-tip and felt pretty rough. Whatever the smell is, they have to get rid of it.
I think the negatives are not due to early opening jitters. I think it’s running how it is designed. Simple things like rolling silverware would really add a lot to the experience. You could trust this as a $15 fried lunch and be OK, but if you spend any big money in the restaurant you may feel like you blew your paycheck at Captain D’s.
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