It’s not every day you come across a venue like Miss Katie’s Crab Shack, which offers both ethically sourced seafood and musical bingo – a combination you never thought you needed to experience, until now.
Nestled cosily in the heart of the city at one of Melbourne’s most prominent venues, Ding Dong Lounge, Miss Katie’s Crab Shack takes you to a special place in America, reigning in home cooked recipes and bringing them to humble and quirky newspaper-covered tables in Australia.
“Every venue I’ve owned has always had a music element,” says founder and owner of the restaurant, Katie Marron.
“I started the original Crab Shack with three thousand dollars and worked my butt off. It started to gain traction, and years on, this is my favourite venue so far. I think it is quite a unique experience, to be able to smash a crab with newspaper and listen to rock’n’roll.”
After first opening its doors to Melbourne in 2013, Miss Katie’s Crab Shack has spent the last four years perfecting a menu to showcase the best of the east, known for its abundance of blue swimmer crabs and Old Bay seasoning, which shine throughout Katie’s cooking.
“My recipes come from my Mum in Maryland, and I have family from Virginia, where there is an endless supply of crab, oyster and seafood produce,” she says.
“Then my great Aunt Lamar, who is from the deep South, wrote cookbooks and inspired me to cook what I now call Katie’s fried chicken, served with waffles and maple syrup. People love it. I’ve spent time adapting their recipes and I’m lucky to have gotten the best of both worlds.”
Starting her food journey from a taco truck, Miss Katie’s Crab Shack ventured across venue-to-venue in Melbourne, developing the recipes for dishes like late night fried chicken and mash, which quickly won the hearts of the hospitality scene.
“Only so much could be done with a taco truck, so we worked hard to bring together a different concept,” she says.
“It didn’t work out for the other chefs with me at the time, so with their blessing, I decided to continue the venture. Now I’m glad that all the persistence paid off.”
Sourcing the restaurant’s produce from South Australia, Marron has witnessed first-hand the ethical practices of her crab farmers, who catch with zero bycatch.
“I am very conscious about using sustainable seafood, which everyone is quite conscious of in Australia,” she says.
“It’s not harmful to the environment, and we know where the produce is coming from. You can taste it has been ethically sourced.”
Now, after successfully gaining respect and admiration in the Melbourne food scene, Miss Katie’s Crab Shack is ready to take their dining experience to a new level.
Inspired by a bar in Berlin, Marron is taking her most loved genre of music, and turning it into a night of unconventional rock’n’roll bingo.
“Because we’ve always incorporated music into our restaurant, it only made sense that we should use the bandroom of The Ding Dong Lounge to its full potential,” she says.
“That’s how Bingo Starr was born. We want to provide a segue way from food to music. Night after night we offer a packed out dinner service and it’s a shame people aren’t sticking around to hear the live bands on offer.”
Hosting Bingo Starr will be the brains behind TV webisode Watt’s On, Dan Watt. Dressed in glistening sailor sequins, the long-time music writer will host the music extravaganza every Friday night.
Unlike the traditional numerical bingo, Bingo Starr has no numbers and is far more exciting. It instead consists of 30 songs with each participant, seated at a table, having five of those songs on their bingo card.
The host will randomly play one minute of each song and, providing your music knowledge is ample, it might just be your lucky night.
“What we are offering is completely different. There’s no fancy cutlery here, and you’re eating on recycled newspaper,” Katie says.
“We encourage people to be messy, have fun, enjoy the experience and to try something new. We want people to stick around to see and enjoy what local, musical talent this city has to offer.”
Words and images by Julia Sansone
Article originally published in Beat Magazine: (http://www.beat.com.au/content/miss-katie-s-crab-shack-are-bringing-together-great-food-new-take-classic-game-bingo)