Do you remember Monty’s Corner, the short-lived Montgomery Plaza bar and grill with the Hangover Brunch and Southern-comfort fare?
I didn’t, and I reviewed it.
The 2012 entry was yet another unmemorable restaurant that paid the rent and got its ticket punched in what’s become a curiously cursed back-corner location in the West Seventh Street condo complex/shopping center.
The merry-go-round of a venue — which has also seen a Mac’s steakhouse, Deluxe Bar & Grille and Bite City Grill — is now home to the veritable carnival that is King Crab Tap House.
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It’s hard to say whether the new restaurant, essentially a sports bar with a Cajun accent, will sink or swim, but a recent weeknight early-dinner visit had it barely treading water.
While most of the other customers were seated on the small, unadorned patio and clustered near the entrance, we unwisely took a booth under a projection screen of a TV, at the far end of the dining room. We sat for nearly 15 minutes before anyone came to take our order. (At one point, I could see a small gathering of servers and other staff looking in our general direction; turns out they were mesmerized by the TV above our table.)
After our server finally meandered over, we ordered a couple of beers on tap (of which there are nearly 50) and the fried oysters ($7.99), six greasy behemoths, more batter than oyster. The oblong platter was attractive — the fried oysters rested on half-shells atop radicchio and other random roughage — but eating more than one was a foolish pursuit, as they were essentially raw oysters encased in an overly fried tomb.
The items labeled “Boiling Cajun Seafood” were better. Under our server’s direction, we were instructed to pick a seasoning (Cajun, lemon-pepper, garlic spread or a mixture of all of these) and a spice level (nonspicy, mild, medium or X). I’m not sure who would want to order the mixture of spices or nonspicy food at a Cajun bar. But, good to know.
Our server had become increasingly friendly, offering details about what constitutes “X” (it’s less of a habanero flavor, more red chili flake in taste) and what came with the boiled platters (corn on the cob and potatoes, naturally). The latter were good conduits for soaking up the combination of Cajun and X sauces.
The shrimp ($10.99) were heads-on, you-peel affairs. Luxuriating in a thick paste of a sauce, of which you could taste onion and tomatoes peeking through, they were incredibly messy to eat. (My dry cleaners would later send me a formal thank-you note for wearing a white blouse.)
The king crab is the most expensive item on the menu ($36 per pound), and possibly worth the splurge for fans. Its subtle, buttery flavor, however, was lost amid the aggressive and grainy X sauce. Perhaps a lemon-pepper or garlic sauce would have worked better.
For happy hour during the first part of the week, crawfish are $5.99 per pound. The catch we netted were overcooked, yielding tiny morsels and little “head” juice.
Mind-numbingly boring were the fish and chips ($9.99), two planks of cod whose batter had unfortunately also received the steam treatment. What’s usually the best part of fried fish, the crispy crust, was missing. The chips — thick-cut fries — were unremarkable. And the small side of cabbage coleslaw had an oddly warm temperature. I liked the tangy yellow tartar sauce, though.
More families and other large groups began to join our quadrant of the dining room, just as we were wrapping up the meal, an encouraging dot on the age-old west-side question mark that is this location’s viability.
As Zombie by the Cranberries droned overhead, it dawned on me that King Crab might just work in this sports-bar-heavy complex. Or, like ghosts of restaurants past, it might fade away and I’ll be back in a couple of years to review yet another concept.