By Restaurant Review by DON FOWLER We fell in love with Cajun cooking on our first trip to New Orleans and always look forward to the Chili Brothers booth at the Rhythm & Roots Festival. A Cajun restaurant came to Cranston last year, but quickly closed.
We fell in love with Cajun cooking on our first trip to New Orleans and always look forward to the Chili Brothers booth at the Rhythm & Roots Festival.
A Cajun restaurant came to Cranston last year, but quickly closed. After trying it, we knew why.
Another one was scheduled to open in the Airport Plaza, but it never materialized.
We heard through the grapevine that the popular national chain Hook & Reel was having a soft opening at 650 Bald Hill Road in back of the Rhode Island Mall, and immediately headed for the Cajun seafood restaurant.
Hook & Reel couldn’t have opened at a worse time, with the pandemic, sagging economy and winter approaching. The place is large and able to accommodate large groups, couples and take-out.
We first went on a Monday night, and there were only a few people there.
We were greeted warmly and given a Cajun chip basket. We ordered a basket of Hushpuppies ($5) and were immediately brought back to Bourbon Street.
We have been unsuccessfully searching for a restaurant that serves shrimp po’ boys for years. The only place that comes close is Poco Loco, which has its Mexican version on occasion.
Hook & Reel has the real thing. The soft roll is stuffed with tasty shrimp on a bed of lettuce, cut in half for easier eating. ($13.) With their po’ boys and crabmeat roll ($11), you get a choice of crispy or sweet potato fries, clam chowder or lobster bisque.
We watched the waitress bring a tray with a huge plastic bag to a nearby table and learned that they were the Hook & Reel specialties.
The Seafood Boils are delivered to your table steaming hot with an incredible Cajun sauce, two potatoes and corn on the cob.
Snow crab legs, Dungeness crabs, clams, crawfish, mussels, scallops, shrimp, calamari, blue crab, king crab and lobster are available in small and large “catches,” accompanied by your choices of sauces and spices, plus extras if you wish. Small orders range from $7.50 to $14.50, and large orders from $12 to $28.
On our second visit we shared the Cajun Boil ($21), which included a half-pound of good-sized crawfish, a half-pound of tender black mussels and a half-pound of shrimp. We were in Cajun heaven, soaking up the sauce, picking out the meat from the crawfish, and savoring every bite.
On our next visit we are going to share “The Perfect Storm,” consisting of snow crab legs, shrimp and mussels ($35).
Then we will be back for a steamed oyster appetizer and a catfish basket. And then we will go through the rest of the huge menu.
They have a full bar. The menu lists the calories for every item.
There is a big bucket for the shells on the table, which is covered by a sheet of brown paper (like Joe’s Stone Crabs in Miami). The waitress writes her name on the paper. A container holds lots of napkins (you’ll need them), a plastic thingamajig to help you get the meat out of the shellfish, bibs and silverware.
Hook and Reel is open for dine-in and take-out service Sunday through Thursday from noon to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from noon to midnight.
Their phone number is 828-0451. Find them online at hookreel.com.