Miss Katie’s at Rochester Hotel, 202 Johnston Street, Fitzroy. Phone: 9419 0166
Approaching the Rochester Hotel, my mind is full of dark thoughts.
When Consider The Sauce hit Miss Katie’s Crab Shack in its previous carnation in North Melbourne, the pervasive gloom wasn’t just a hindrance to photography – it also lessened the enjoyment of our food.
It was bit a like a food version of Dating In The Dark.
My heart sinks when I enter the bar area of the Rochester – it, too, is gloomy.
Exploring a bit further, my mood lightens when I discover the dining room “out the back” is considerably brighter.
My spirits veritably soar when I receive my bloody mary ($18) as I await my friends.
It’s sensational, delicious and worth every cent of the admission price.
Off we happily troop to the dining room to sort out or collective order.
We go two starters, two star-attraction mains and one light, vegetarian option.
Deep-dried pickles are, initially, a surprise as I have been expecting the heavily battered discs I’ve had in New Orleans.
But these lightly-battered spears are very good.
It seems as if the cooking process has lessened the vinegar factor, as they’re mild of sourness.
Crab dip is, well, very crabby.
And also very rich and yummy.
The accompanying bits and pieces -including biscuits that are more like cookies – fall a little short, however, of being substantial enough to handle all the pot of dip.
I go the seafood boil.
The basic price of $25 includes a blue swimmer crab, kransky pieces, chat spuds and corn.
From there, more crab – or oysters, clams, mussels or prawns – can be added for extra $.
I go with oysters for $10.
I get only three, bathing in seasoned butter, but they’re fabulous.
The hot-dog-style kransky pieces are a highlight.
I have a splendid time extracting sweet, delicate crab meat.
But here’s the rub – despite the high quality of its individual components, my dish is lacking a knockout punch.
I suspect that could only be had, under current arrangements, by adding a lot of extra seafood that would make it prohibitively pricey.
Which means …
… we reckon Miss Katie’s fried chicken ($24), which comes with either mash or waffles, is this establishment’s outstanding dish – and excellent value.
Yes, in a crab shack.
It’s a good thing, then, that one of my companions orders it.
It’s an even better thing that it is so very, very good and such a substantial portion that we all have a good taste.
The coating is light but wonderfully seasoned and the meat itself is perfect.
Could this be Melbourne’s fried chook champ? Or, more accurately, Melbourne’s non-Korean chook champ?
My other pal’s hasselback potatoes with jack cheese and slaw ($15) do the trick for him, though I suspect he’s very appreciative of the couple of chicken pieces that come his way.
Our finale – banana split ($12) – is enjoyable though a bit rich price-wise for an American-style fantasia that is little more than fluff.