A touch of Louisiana on George Street
By Keren Lavelle
Following on the success of its Oyster Carnival held last August, The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room will be showcasing all fun and edible things involving crab, such as crab races and chilli mud crab, from 1 – 13 April.
The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room is an elegant reworking of the old Brooklyn Hotel on George Street. Chef Sean Connelly has come up with a fun menu for the April carnival based around the crustaceans, with items such as a ‘happy hour’ price for crab and lettuce tacos ($5), crab burger ($12), crab burger and chips ($22), chilli crab linguine ($28), crab toast ($18), softshell crab with wasabi mayonnaise ($10) and chilli mud crab at market price.
Greeted at the door of the smart yet welcoming The Morrison dining room with a choice of a Craberol cocktail (described as a ‘tropical blend of Belvedere Pure and Aperol shaken with passionfruit, pineapple, fresh citrus and Peychauds’) or a glass of Little Creatures Pale Ale (my favourite beer), I opted for the latter and then quickly googled Peychauds on my phone. It’s a bitters created in the late 18th century by a Haitian in New Orleans, Louisiana, thus very much in keeping with the theme of this food-fest.
Preview guests were treated to snow crab sliders, with brioche buns. These crab sliders presented a nice contrast between the savoury, crunchy crabcake filling and the soft sweet bread, which probably means the burgers are going to be great. The deep-fried salt-and-pepper softshell crab morsels didn’t really need their accompanying wasabi mayo – just by themselves they were a great combination of crisp, crumbed outside and tender, tasty flesh inside. The crab and lettuce tacos represented a less calorific option, with cos lettuce leaves acting as a base to hold crab flesh dressed with vinaigrette, salmon caviar and the teeniest bit of fresh chilli.
There’s no way you can eat chilli crab in a dainty fashion. It’s all hands and nutcrackers on deck, and the strongly tomato-based, mildly chilli sauce inevitably gets all over your hands.
The Carnival is not all about chowing down: there will be the chance to join in crab race sweeps, watching to see if your numbered crustacean is the first to make it to the edge of a rope circling a barrel, or the opportunity to compete with Chef Sean Connolly and his staff to see who can consume a mass of chilli crab the fastest. This will be done standing up, which I think is a definite advantage. There’s no way you can eat chilli crab in a dainty fashion. It’s all hands and nutcrackers on deck, and the strongly tomato-based, mildly chilli sauce inevitably gets all over your hands. Fortunately, The Morrison provides paper bibs and cloth napkins to make sure you don’t end up entirely coated in the sauce. Gripping the piece of crab with your nutcracker and squeezing hard, you are rewarded by accessing the sweet flesh within the shell. It’s a rich and satisfying dish, and provided a climax to our taste of the Carnival to come.
The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room Crab Carnival, 1-13 April 2014
Celebrity Chef Crab Eating Contest will be held on Tuesday 2 April at 7 PM (registration and $20 registration fee required from 6:15 PM to 6:45 PM), and the crab races on Thursday 3 and 10 April at 7 PM
The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room
225 George Street, Sydney
(02) 9247 6744
This noodlies Sydney food blog experience was courtesy of The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room. Photo’s courtesy of The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room.