Tuesday, December 16, 2008
It's that time of season so let's rejoice. My crustacean friends have appeared a bit little early this year, as January-February usually sparks the new crop of critters. You could tell it wasn't prime time as most were rather small, but delicious nonetheless. Unlike the end of the season, there was hardly any mealy meat. If the crawfish is dead prior to cooking the meat just falls apart and is difficult to remove from the tail.
My go to spot in the city for mudbugs is Mara's Homemade on 6th St. between 1st and 2nd, bringing some cajun to Curry Row. To my knowledge this is the only spot in the city that regularly serves them and has them shipped weekly. I used to go to the Bayou in Mount Vernon but haven't been there in years. And when I really get the craving, I call my pilot to take a quick jaunt to H-ouston. But maybe later because my waiter made tasty crawfish souffle...
Mara's was plan B this night. My boy Mark of USA Today fame, no longer the sort of hippy, and I tried to get a table at Babbo, but no luck. One day I will do some fine dining on here. Even if it kills me. So we sparked it with 2 pounds of crawdads. I get the weekly emails advertising specials usually on Sunday and Monday, one of them being 3 pounds for $25. Not realizing what day it was I went with the idea I was going in on the special. But it was a Saturday night and they were charging $12 per pound. This is NYC, what do you expect. And I need this shit.
Like previous trips to Mara's I keep it simple and usually go for the same things. That goes against my credo of trying new things, but there are exceptions to the rules. I can just eat pounds of the things and call it a day. But if I'm going to drop an additional $36 I might as well get some other dishes to fill me up.
We ordered the Gator Bites, which were tougher than usual, and the southern fried chicken served with smoked garlic mashed potatoes. If gator is overcooked it becomes like rubber. These weren't that bad, but after having this dish 5+ times there, this is the first time they weren't tender. The cajun cornmeal batter and remoulade sauce definitely enhanced it.
The fried chicken was good, but not great. It was moist, a big plus, but lacking in taste. I expect big flavors from this place and this left me underwhelmed. I still stand by Georgia's Eastside BBQ as having some of the best fried chicken in the city and especially the east village. There was a decent crisp shell to this though, and the potatoes were on point.
They serve Abita Andygator Ale, a dopplebock on tap and according to Abita it is a creature of the swamp, Andygator is a unique high gravity brew made with 2-row pale malt, German lager yeast, and Liberty hops. Unlike other high gravity brews, Andygator is fermented to a dry finish. According to Howfresh, it's great. A lighter bock that goes down smooth, too smooth. And with those spicy crawfish, the slight sweetness keeps that shit tame. The 8% alcohol content just adds to its appeal.
Between the grub and Andygator I was more than satisfied with the experience. I didn't need anything else. But then it got even better. Better? How can it get any better? Turns out there was a blind date in action to the right. It wasn't glaring until you really watched it. Somehow we started talking to the chick while dude, kind of corn, went to the bathroom- bad move homeboy- you can't leave your girl alone with 2 drunk dudes that devoured crawfish. You know what they say about crawfish? Nothing. Anyway, out of the blue she tells me I look like Daddy Yankee. Daddy Fucking Yankee. The McCain loving Republicano? What? And I wasn't even wearing a Yankee fitted. And she was surprised that nobody else ever saw the resemblance. It must have been the oversized fitted. And it must have been the only time she ever had the opportunity to talk to a gentleman in an oversized fitted. Boo, if you're reading this, holla at me. Cut that zero...
Bottom line is crawfish are back and have landed in NYC. Everybody else is doing it so why aren't you?
342 East 6th St
Between 1st & 2nd Ave
Hours(call to double check): Mon, Wed-Thu 5pm-10:30pm, Fri 5pm-11:30pm, Sat 4pm-11:30pm, Sun 4pm-10:30pm