The primal savagery of sucking the meat of your prey right out of its exoskeleton invokes the burly vigor upon which this country was built – thus the All-American appeal of the Louisianan crawfish boil. But alas, such carnivorous revelry is rare here in the Northwest, where tofu dogs exponentially outnumber Ball Park franks. One valiant culinary warrior, however, is brave enough to face down the wrath of militant Stumptown vegetarianism: EaT Oyster Bar.
Bellies longing for the meaty decadence of New Orleans cuisine will find their Big Easy fix at EaT. The North Portland eatery is still just a baby, having only opened its doors in late 2008, but it hit the scene with serious Southern credibility. EaT is one of the only restaurants in town that serves multiple varieties of Louisiana-brewed Abita beer, stays true to its roots with refreshingly authentic gumbo and shrimp étoufée, and, best of all, throws the occasional crawfish boil bash.
At the latest crawfish boil this last Saturday, EaT rolled up the garage door to its adjoining patio and piled bright crimson crawfish boiled with corn, potatoes and halved lemons on a long folding table covered with newspaper. The crawfish, flown in live from Louisiana that morning, wriggled in a tin tub of water nearby until they met their fate in a hollowed-out keg full of boiling water and spices. $15 buys a platter-sized plate to load with heap upon heap of the fresh "mud bugs", your ticket endless shellfish rapture.