Sucking on crab claws while listening to smooth jazz.
You might think that is a strange idea, but restaurateur and musician Brian Lizotte thinks it is the perfect combo for a good time at his restaurant here at Central Coast, proudly named Lizotte’s. And he is not wrong, as his monthly chilli and crab night is always popular and usually all booked up. I’m glad we made a booking as it is already quite full with crab lovers and jazz swingers when we arrive at the restaurant.
Lizotte’s is a restaurant serving up a twist and mellowing down with soul; a place where Brian can share two of his greatest passions, great food and great music. The name Brian Lizotte probably doesn’t ring a bell to you, but you’d have definitely heard of his brother, Mark Lizotte, or better known as Diesel, the lead singer of the famous 90’s Australian rock band Johnny Diesel & The Injectors. However, Brian is no stranger in the entertainment industry, he has ran a catering service with his wife Jo for over 10 years, serving some of the greatest local and international artists such as INXS, Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, Elton John, The Beach Boys, U2, Madonna and the list goes on.
Lizotte’s at Central Coast was the very first restaurant opened back in 2000, then expanded to two more locations, one in Newcastle and another one Sydney, both opened in 2009 and 2010. No matter which restaurant you choose, live music performances by local and international artists are scheduled in the calendar all year round, and Crab and Jazz night is just one of the many that appeals to me.
I round up a few boys and ready for a crabby messy affair. We walk into the entrance room filled with autographed memorabilia from musicians and singers. Patrons can hang out at the bar while waiting for an empty bar, but since we already made a booking, we are seated immediately only a few tables from the centre stage.
We start by sharing a mezze plate to get our appetite going. We are happily digging into a mound of salami, prosciutto and grilled chorizo; two slices of toasted Turkish bread are the buffer to go with olive tapenade, or top with grilled zucchini and eggplant, there are also pickled young green olives and globe artichokes.
On “chilli crab and jazz” night, you have the choice of a generous serving of crab or a main meal from the dinner show menu for $59, which includes live jazz show. A couple of us at the table simply don’t fancy messing about with the fiddly crab dish and opt for something else on the menu.
The grain-fed sirloin is a safe option, wasn’t asked how it should be done but luckily comes out tender medium-rare, served on a bed of kumera mash, squeaky green beans on the side and a few shards of sweet potato crisps.
The grilled barramundi comes in generous portion, a huge barramundi fillet is grilled to perfection, crispy skin and soft white flesh, the sweet meat is enhanced with spicy salsa, served with parsnip puree and crisps, few broccolini stems offers much needed crunch.
Then the chilli crab arrives at the table, accompanied by a bowl of steamed jasmine rice on the side. A whole blue swimmer crab per serve, dismantled into smaller parts, deep fried with a light and crispy battered coating, served with an intense Asian style chilli and soy dressing. A squeeze of the lime over the crab while sanitising the hands at the same time, it is time to dig in and ready to get messy.
Eating crab is truly a labor of love, it requires patience and determination. In return, you will be rewarded by delicate crab meat sweeter than candy floss, unicorn and double rainbows. For me, I always start with the claws, crab clamp is provided to break open the tough shells revealing a thick pile of crab meat, then tackle the body by sucking the sweet meat out which has been soaked up all the intense soy dressing that is addictively salty with the occasional numbing heat of Szechuan peppercorn. After that, is a matter of taking my time prodding each tiny leg with the long crab fork to get the remaining meat out, or simply eat the whole damn thing especially the leg is deep fried to a delightful crunchiness.
When all the crabs are gone, all that is left in the bowl is a pool of dark soy dressing, it finally all makes sense what the bowl of steamed rice is for. I drizzle the sauce all over the rice, filling myself up with carb and call it another meal. But the sauce gets a little too salty after a few mouthfuls I simply have to stop.
The chilli crab was indeed a generous serve and I was well satisfied and contented after the meal, but there’s no harm to have a peek of the dessert menu. I share a chocolate gondujla tart with The Pom, rich and decadent chocolate ganache filled in a short crust pastry case, slurp up with a puddle of creamy brandy cream. All desserts are garnished withLizotte’s signature treble clef chocolate tuile.
The self saucing chocolate pudding is nothing but sheer indulgent. Soft gooey centre with warm chocolate sauce oozes out from the pudding, it will send you on a sugary buzz with the rich chocolate ice cream and a trail of praline. All the calories, but is so worth it.
Do you know how can you tell whether you have survived a good chilli crab night?
It is when you wake up the next morning, starting to sniff that intoxicating spices aroma that still lingers on your own fingers and reminiscing what a beautiful chilli crab you’ve had the night before…
Well, I did exactly just that.
Lizotte's Lot 3 Avoca Drive Kincumber NSW ph: 02 4368 2017 Check website for live show dates.