Seafood boil with crawfish at Grand Catch in St. Paul
photos by tj turner
Joy: This popping new restaurant near Macalester College came together from a wildly creative and unexpected crew.
Jason: The Wadi brothers run World Street Kitchen, Thien Ly runs Cajun Deli, and Leo Judeh was looking for a restaurant to go next door to his Shish Cafe.
Joy: First, the four of them drove out to a suburban strip mall to feast on shrimp boils. Sameh Wadi wasn’t looking to open another restaurant, but Ly was looking to expand. Wadi knew that he and his brother/business partner Saed had the right experience to help.
Jason: Take all those food people, throw them in a 212-degree pot of water, and you’ve got the dream team of seafood boils. The shellfish rotates: I’ve tried head-on and peeled shrimp, mussels, clams, and blue crab in the boil. You buy it by the pound, and it’s served with red potatoes and sweet corn.
Joy: But wait! There’s more. Each boil comes with a choice of sauces: garlic butter, Cajun seasonings, or a Northern Thai chili bath. Plus, the menu has snacks, a salad, and sandwiches.
Jason: The seafood is wet and porous, and the sauce really does get in there—so the heat levels are serious. On one visit, I chose a hot, spicy Isaan sauce, a layered concoction of Thai chilis and fish sauce. It wasn’t Minnesota hot, it was legit hot. Next time, I tried the medium Awesome Sauce, a combo of a garlic butter and Louisiana Hot Sauce, and my lips were tingling.
Seafood boil with mussels and clams
Joy: I wished the Isaan sauce had a bit of a bass note or more of a backbone. The Awesome Sauce lives up to its name. I ended up soaking battered French fries in it after all the head-on shrimp were demolished.
Jason: I’m not sure how often Minnesotans are going to want to have a seafood boil, but Grand Catch doesn’t just phone in the rest of the menu. The battered cheese fries were glorious, as were the thickly sliced fried green tomatoes for starters. Even the $7 grilled cheese on brioche was spectacular.
Crispy fried chicken sandwich
Joy: The chicken sandwich is a granddaddy of double-fisted eating. It’s fat, juicy, and crispy—with a judicious amount of mayo and pickles.
Jason: The restaurant itself pleasantly surprised me. It’s large, especially with the back patio, and epicly Instagrammable. You can’t miss the pink neon “What’s Crackin?” sign against a backdrop of deep-green fern leaves.
Joy: Most of all, this is craveable food. I’ve found myself working up a hankering for this menu at least every other week since my first visit. Grand Catch is an influx of serious fun eating on Grand Avenue.
Grand Catch Quick Tips
They don’t take them: first-come, first-served
Former Spoon and Stable bartender Isaac Ramon’s cocktails pair perfectly with the spicy seafood
Wadi brought soft serve from World Street Kitchen—get the milkjam twist with raspberry lychee
1672 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-348-8541, grandcatchmn.com