Grab-A-Yabby, Melbourne CBD

One of my favourite memories from my childhood is eating the yabbies that my uncle caught with his traps from a nearby dam or river. Believe it or not, one lucky yabby escaped his fate and managed to live around our pool for a year or two, showing up in the most unusual places and often giving me a fright in the process.

When a friend of mine told me about a new restaurant that had recently opened in The Causeway (near the Bourke Street Mall) called Grab-A-Yabby, the promise of freshly cooked yabbies served with a spicy sauce was more than enough to persuade me to leave my warm home in search of a different source of heat.

Aside from finding deliciously cooked seafood and crustaceans in the CBD locale, the novel thing that I discovered about this restaurant is that while it only operates from Wednesday evenings through to Sunday nights, another café business with different owners and staff occupies the same premises during the daytime hours.

So when I arrived at Grab-A-Yabby in the early evening, the whole space had completely transformed into an elegant restaurant and was already hosting a busy evening trade. Seated and perfectly relaxed listening to a great techno soundtrack and glass of the house red wine in hand (only $6 and absolutely drinkable!) I decided to start the evening with one of the restaurant’s more popular appetisers – Soft Shell Crab Sliders (2) for $12.

Presented on wooden boards, the sliders were generous in both proportion and composition – soft white buns, mayo, lightly battered crab, lettuce and special sauce. Wonderfully succulent and wholeheartedly delicious, it’s little wonder that they are a crowd pleaser.

Bec Truong, who started the restaurant with her husband Phil, after becoming inspired to create her own blend of seafood specialty sauces following a recent trip to the United States, kindly joined me for dinner. Thankfully Bec was on my wavelength and was more then happy to share the couple of items on the menu that I had wanted to try.

Ordering is a relatively simple process – you select what type of seafood you would like, the accompanying sauce (choose from the Grab-A-Yabby Special with Cajun flavours, an Asian-inspired XO sauce, the fiery Moroccan-infused Inferno or a robust Garlic Butter) and your desired heat level. We naturally ordered a serve of yabbies with Grab-A-Yabby sauce with a bit of a kick in the heat stakes. There are a couple of main dishes and combos available on the menu as well. It’s been a while since I have been able to indulge in a Surf’n’Turf (Scotch Fillet Steak seasoned in special spices accompanied with a Lobster tail in a chosen sauce and served with chips – $49) so we ordered a serve with a milder version of the Moroccan-inspired sauce.

One of the precepts behind Grab-A-Yabby is that its a fun dining experience where friends and family can come together and share food in a relaxed atmosphere and by just looking around the restaurant, it was clearly evident that this vision has come to fruition.

I was a bit reticent about getting down and dirty with seafood in my best Saturday-night attire but all my fears were allayed with the provision of a sizeable plastic bib, disposable gloves and my own selection of tools to safely tackle all those claws and tails that were about to come my way. So no need to fear about lingering smells on the way to the footy!

Surf'N'Turf - Grab-A-Yabby, Melbourne CBD
Surf’N’Turf – Grab-A-Yabby, Melbourne CBD

The Surf’n’Turf was the first dish to arrive at our table. Beautifully presented on a large wooden board with a fresh salad, side of crisp fries and a seared steak topped with specialty sauce and caramelised onion, the meat was both moist and tender. A steamed corn cob in the chilli and herb-infused Moroccan sauce propped up the large Lobster tail in a side bowl. The seafood was quite generous in size, quantity and flavour.

Not long after the steak had been served, the long-awaited yabbies were brought to the table. I can’t tell you how many years it has been since I’ve had fresh yabbies but the wait was worthwhile. Smothered in spicy Cajun flavoured sauce, and served with segments of orange and corn, these beauties were again larger than I had anticipated. All those Body Pump classes seem to be paying off as I found it quite easy to extract the meat from the shells without using too many of the weapons of mass destruction that I had been equipped with! The accompanying sauce was both plentiful and delicious and paired nicely with the moist meat from the yabbies.

Looking around the busy restaurant, all the diners looked like they were having fun with their bibs and wooden hammers, eating together and thoroughly enjoying the experience. In truth, the food was delectable and given the fun I was having tearing into freshly cooked yabbies covered in a scrumptious sauce, I was beginning to plan in my mind’s eye which friends and family I could bring with me to Grab-A-Yabby for a return visit.

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I dined as a guest of Grab-A-Yabby, however this blog entry reflects my own opinions formed during my dining experience.

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