Flavor's the ticket at The Claw House

by Mary Tutwiler

Just when you think you know your way around the world of boiled crawfish, another boiling joint opens up and throws you out of your comfortable routine. If you're like me, knowing where the best crawfish can be found is as insistent a calling as finding the ultimate link of boudin. Well, David Hardy just rocked my world.

Hardy opened The Claw House last week in the parking lot of the Jockey Lot, along I-49 between the Pont de Mouton and Gloria Switch exit. It's a little tricky negotiating the loop de loop of the service roads at night, but I would drive even further to pick up these crawfish. Hardy has a secret seasoning that is dead delicious. The experience begins subtly, you have to eat about three crawfish to let the flavors build in your mouth. There's a nice spice note, perhaps clove, followed by what I think is a jalapeƱo spike, and finally a cleansing note of lemon. I'm not a fan of hot hot seasoning, I really like to taste the sweetness of the crawfish, and this seasoning blend complements, rather than overwhelms the mudbugs.

While his business is less than a week old, Hardy is no novice when it comes to the boiling pots. He began learning the ropes at 15, when he manned the pots at Paul's Pirogue in Carecro. Five years ago, he opened the Acadian Oaks Cafe in Carencro, where he developed a following. He sold the business, but he "had the itch to get back into the crawfish business. Not plate lunches, just boiled crawfish," he says. So he set up shop at The Depot, a convenience store on Hector Connolly Road.

The boiling pots were located in a tire shop just behind The Depot, and it was pick-up only, until some friends asked if they could put up a table and eat there. The next thing Hardy knew, there were five tables right next to the oil change machine. One regular was Wes Ellison, who owns the Jockey Lot. They talked about a lot of things like a big crawfish patio on the premises, but Hardy decided to start small.

For the moment, The Claw House is drive thru only. Onions, potatoes and corn come on the side. Call 456-2974 to order ahead, which is recommended.