One thing that will always get my attention is the prospect of a low-country boil, with piles of seafood, potatoes and corn. So, when I stumbled upon Seafood Lady on social media, let’s just say I was quickly at full attention.
Situated in the back of a building in Old Louisville that also houses the Oak Street Mini Mall and a place that makes keys, Seafood Lady is your true hole-in-the-wall — but, oh my, the food is good. From fried or boiled shrimp to boiled snowcrab legs, crab cakes, crawfish, oysters, gator to corn, potatoes, “Cajun eggs” and more, it’s like your mouth is stepping into the deep South.
And while it’s been somewhat of a secret since opening at 617 W. Oak St. late last year, there are many who have been in the know since owner Quesy Watson — aka the “Seafood Lady” — started sharing her food last summer. One of those people is Muhammad Ali, according to a story by UrbanMaxx last year. Mayor Greg Fischer dropped in recently, too, so the secret is out.
Watson, a native of Pensacola, Fla., has lived in Louisville for several years, bringing her own brand of seafood along with her, including a “housemade” sauce that goes on pretty much everything she serves. On a recent Saturday afternoon, my girlfriend Cynthia and I stopped by to check it out and were perplexed that there was almost no clue that Seafood Lady exists in its location. If you go, just enter through the black gate, and you’re there. (Of course, once the smell hits you, just follow your nose, which is what we did.)
The “dining” room is essentially a covered out structure with a few chairs and tables, as well as some bar seating along one wall. But the line to order stretches right through the center of the space, leaving little room for actual dining, so we decided to get takeout, which is what most Seafood Lady customers seem to do.
The line moves fairly quickly, and the only menus are on the counter and against one wall by the pickup station; it helps to have an idea of what you want before you go. Of course, the daily extras, stuff not on the regular menu, is hand written on a piece of paper stationed next to the order taker, so be prepared to change your mind if something else catches your eye.
Anyway, dinners come in half orders and full orders, priced at $15 and $25, respectively. Add-ons range from $3 for a piece of the day’s fish to $16 for fried lobster tail. Of course, you can always build your own meal, too. It’s entirely your call, and the offerings vary based on availability.
Cynthia chose a half dinner with fried shrimp, corn and Cajun eggs, while I did a half combo, which is two snowcrab legs, five shrimp and a pair of sides (I chose potatoes and eggs). I also added an order of fried oysters for $7.50, since they were out of boiled crawfish that day, but you can also get crab cakes or fried gator tail.
Orders come out even more quickly than the line moved, leaving us with about a 20- to 25-minute investment. We hurried home, opened our Styrofoam containers, and immediately wanted to high-five each other.
I had noticed while standing in line that every order gets drenched in the aforementioned “housemade” sauce, which basically is butter and Cajun seasonings. And it’s delicious. I ended up with two crablegs and a claw, which was fine by me, as I love the claw meat, and that excess sauce made for great dipping with the tender crab.
Without going too far into the gushing, I found everything was perfectly cooked, fresh-tasting and well-proportioned for the price. The potatoes? Well, that was just half of a giant potato straight from the seafood boil. That housemade sauce and potatoes go together well. The corn was tender and spot on. The Cajun eggs basically were just hard-boiled eggs with lots of Cajun spice and, yes, housemade sauce, on them.
Cynthia’s meal came with 10 oversized shrimp, lightly battered in a blend that had just the right amount of spice. My boiled shrimp, shell on, were equally large, cooked just right, with plenty of flavor. And the oysters were a bargain for the price — I didn’t count, but I’d guess there were 10 or 12, cooked in the same tasty batter, with the briny, oceanic flavor bursting through.
We finished every bite. Cynthia, lacking any sense of shame whatsoever, literally folded the tinfoil covering the bottom of her container into a mini trough and drank the remaining sauce. It was quite a display.
The only bad news is that Seafood Lady is only open Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., as, according to her social media, she also spends time in Lexington. Honestly, if you were that hungry for good seafood on a Friday or Sunday, it would probably be worth the drive.