Seafood fans rejoice! There is a new, casual, 75-seat Cajun seafood boil restaurant in the West Loop. Mad Boiler, located at 1045 West Madison, recently opened and offers some of the best seafood to be found in that part of the city.
Mad Boiler is the concept of husband/wife team Stanley Liem and Sara Katekaew, owners of popular Miku Sushi in Lincoln Square. The menu features 1-pound, market price seafood boil options like lobster, crawfish, mussels, whole crabs, crab legs, and shrimp (heads-on or heads-off). Guests choose from 11 seafood options and then have a choice of four delicious sauce preparations – garlic butter, sweet chili, coconut curry, and Cajun rub. You can also choose your heat level (from one to four), and then add on any sides. The sides include corn-on-the-cob, sausage, potatoes, and coconut rice.
On a recent visit, my guest and I were invited to sample not only the seafood boil options, but also the Mad Boiler lobster roll. Our first reaction upon seeing and then tasting this roll was a resounding, “Wow!” I moved to the Midwest from a decade of living in coastal New England where lobster rolls are plentiful and excellent. This roll from Mad Boiler is the best I have sampled since leaving New England over 8 years ago. There was a hint of sauce, but the majority of the roll was lobster meat – an astounding amount of it. The bread was also a surprise standout – lightly crunchy, warm, buttery, and slightly sweet. The combination was memorable. If you are a lobster fan, this is one to try.
In a frenzy of overindulgence, my guest ate the lobster roll and then ordered three pounds of seafood with one small order of rice for a side. We opted for a pound of Dungeness crab in garlic butter, a pound of heads-off shrimp with Cajun rub, and a pound of mussels with a combination of garlic butter and the sweet chili sauce. At the end, we were just slightly over-full, so I would suggest ordering one pound per person when you visit plus one side per person. That should be just enough without feeling stuffed.
The meal is messy but worth the effort. Of everything we sampled, the standout was a surprise to us both. We assumed we would love the shrimp, which we did, but the mussels were unbelievable because of the sauce combination. The sweet chili combined with the garlic butter was so good that we kept dipping empty mussel shells in and slurping it down even after all the seafood was gone. I would go back just for that sauce!
Mad Boiler is located at 1045 West Madison. You can reach them by calling 312-291-8182 and for more information check out their Facebook page. The restaurant is open Monday – Friday, 3 p.m. – midnight; Saturday – Sunday, noon – midnight.
Photos courtesy of Alexander Gouletas.