#74 Hot N Juicy Crawfish

Three-star restaurant, one-star service

When my wife brought up the idea of me accompanying her to lunch on her work-from-home day so that I could watch the girls while she ate with her coworkers, I thought, “Why the hell not?”

No sooner did I scope out the location of the restaurant, Hot N Juicy Crawfish, on Apple Maps than I realized the nightmare in which I was about to descend. Mill Ave. Parking garages. ASU students with nothing better to do during the summer.

Whatever. I went anyway. We arrived right as the restaurant opened, and the server quickly took drink orders. This would be the only time she acted with any sense of urgency. About five minutes later, we ordered food. My oldest daughter, Nadia, chose the chicken tenders. My youngest, Rowan, gazed longingly toward the jar of sweet potatoes that was in my diaper bag. I landed on the catfish po’ boy with a side of “Cajun” fries.

Then, we waited. And waited. Nadia played with a set of magnetic wooden blocks. She crawled under the table. Then, she asserted, repeatedly, her desire to be literally anywhere else except this restaurant. I was beginning to feel her pain. After about 20 minutes, the server casually sauntered over with the food.

It was, how do I put this succinctly, fine. Though the catfish was nicely fried, and the bread wasn’t too dense, the presentation was garbage. The mess of vegetables and dressing you see provided the only flavor in the entire sandwich. As for the fries, well, I’m not too sure what made them Cajun. I’m guessing it was paprika, with a pinch of cayenne. I didn’t taste the seasoning at all.

Though the waitress did check on us occasionally, it took her 20 minutes to bring the check after I told her we were done eating. Keep in mind that the place had just opened, and there were only three occupied tables in the entire restaurant. Even my wife’s table struggled. Instead of bringing everything out together, their server elected to bring dishes out at five-minute intervals. By the time the last person was served, everyone else had finished eating.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but between the lack of dedicated parking, the terrible service and the wholly mediocre food, I don’t see this place lasting more than a year. Apparently it opened in Tempe on the back of a nice buzz from the Las Vegas location. I can’t imagine what they’re doing differently up in Nevada. Even if the service is good, it’s still the same farmed fish and trucked-in seafood. Maybe the servers do cabaret?

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