The Boil is a Lower East Side attempt at a New Orleans hangout. The room is packed with big, boozy groups, the menu is full of fresh seafood, and the bar has Abita on tap. You order shellfish by the pound and Cajun seasoning can be found on pretty much everything. Hell, there's even a fleur-de-lis on the wall, and I'm pretty sure those can't leave the city unless the NoLa mayor officially signs off on it.
Oh, you can buy those anywhere? They sell them in those year round Halloween stores, for no apparent reason? There are like 400 girls in Maryland that have a fleur-de-lis tattoo because it looked cool and they were drunk in Ocean City? My bad. That's good to know. Because New Orleans is a dream. And The Boil kind of sucks.
The menu at The Boil will have you ordering crawfish, shrimp, lobster, and crab by the pound, with your choice of sauce and heat. It's a perfect blueprint for hands on eating with a side of beer - except just about none of it works. The seafood itself is decent, and eating out of a garbage bag is fun, but everything else is a step in the wrong direction. The garlic butter sauce is thick and overpowering, masking the taste of the seafood. And the heat index is a joke. The hottest level ("fire") is sadly unintimidating, even if the waitstaff acts like an order of it will leave you seizing on the floor.
The only way to do The Boil right is to ignore all the bells and whistles (and asterisks on the menu) and go with seafood in Old Bay. Full stop. Two pounds of shrimp with nothing but Old Bay is a legit meal here. Ditto the crab and fries. The problem is, waiting over an hour to eat Cajun fries isn't much of a setup. Especially when the entire experience is tainted by everybody wearing plastic gloves as they eat. (You know, because we're being diligent around here.) Nothing says "never been to the bayou" like rocking surgical gloves to protect your no polish manicure. I'm not even sure they'll let you do that in Ocean City.
Big strips of fried catfish on slider buns with some slaw. There's not much flavor here, and they could certainly use some hot sauce, but a solid app nonetheless if you like catfish and/or being catfished.
The same shrimp as you'll get with your by-the-pound order, but these come in a BBQ sauce. The sauce is whatever, the shrimp are pretty good. Take it or leave it, you're not missing much either way.
One soft shell crab in a basket. You've had better, you've had worse. A safe order.
French fries in Old Bay have never been a bad thing to eat. Ever.
Soupy, and lacking in any real smoky flavor. Please don't fool yourself into thinking this is what gumbo should taste or feel like.
The corn is nice, but comes swimming in melted butter. Now, we're not one to hate on buttery corn, but when everything else is smothered in butter, a little fresh corn flavor wouldn't be the worst thing ever.
They are all good, and the shrimp and crab are particularly nice and meaty. If you wake up hankering for shellfish in Old Bay, this order will do you right.