This seafood destination gets a thumbs-up on food and service.
The Mom Says:
The photo in The Columbus Dispatch of seafood strewn across a paper tablecloth immediately caught the kids' attention as they ate their breakfast one morning. “We need to go there,” said Alex, who never misses a chance to order seafood.
I checked out the restaurant, Kai's Crab Boil, online and decided it would make an interesting family meal. Even Nick—my meat-and-potatoes kid—was on board. No doubt, he was intrigued by the eatery's nod to Cajun food: One of the house specialties is Kai's Kajun sauce. Nick learned to love New Orleans-style cooking during visits with my sister, who for years lived in the Crescent City.
At the suggestion of the waitress, we got two orders of the Pacific Combo ($34), which contains a pound of shrimp and a pound of crab. All seafood is boiled and seasoned with garlic butter, lemon pepper or Kai's Kajun sauce, plus a choice of five spice levels. We each were allowed to pick two sides—either corn, a potato or sausage.
The kids were delighted when our waitress brought a cup of interesting-looking tools to pluck the crabmeat from the shell. They also loved wearing the plastic bibs.
When the seafood arrived, it was fresh and delicious. Alex and I shared a combo flavored with lemon pepper, which was light and tangy. We picked mild, which suited us—just a hint of spice. I had a potato and corn to round out my meal, and they tasted fine.
We all had fun digging out the crab, but it quickly became apparent that we had ordered way too much shrimp. As good as it was, none of us was up to eating a half-pound. I felt terrible when the waitress cleared our table and we had so much untouched, but it seemed like something we would not eat as leftovers.
My husband and Nick, who split a combo with Kai's Kajun sauce, got tired of the food before they were full. The meal was too rich for them. In hindsight, we would have been better off sharing one Pacific Combo and filling in with more sausage, corn or potatoes. The restaurant also serves rice, noodles and bread—any of which might have helped offset the buttery seafood.
The kids are eager to return to Kai's and order more strategically. I'm definitely willing. The service was stellar (although the restaurant was very cold on the day we visited). It's also a bit loud, which I find to be a good thing when eating out with kids.
—Melissa Kossler Dutton
The Kid (Age 13) Says:
Usually my brother is the seafood guy, but I am game to try it. Sometimes I enjoy it. Other times, I don't. I went into Kai's Crab Boil with an open mind.
When I saw the menu, I was interested in trying crab and lobster, but we decided to save lobster for another day and ordered the Pacific Combo. For my sides, I picked a piece of sausage and a potato. My dad and I agreed to have our food seasoned with Kai's Kajun sauce, which is the restaurant's seasoned butter base with Cajun spices. You could choose the spice level, and we selected medium. This was a nice level spice, but I think more would have been fine or better. Next time, I will order my food hot.
The crab was good. Since I had never eaten crab, I wasn't used to digging for my meat. It was worth the effort. I also really liked the shrimp. I wish I would have ordered more sides or an appetizer because I was “seafooded out” before I was full. I could only eat so much of the rich, buttery crab and shrimp. More sausage or potatoes would have helped me fill up and rounded out the meal. I felt bad because I left a large amount of shrimp uneaten.
This meal can get messy fast, so it's good that they provide everyone with a bib and have a double sink in the dining room. When were done eating, we eagerly washed up at the sink.
The service was really good. The waitress and other employees stopped by to see how we were doing. They kept offering to refill our drinks, even though the glasses were huge.
I definitely want to go back now that I have a better idea of what to order.
The Kid (Age 11) Says:
When I saw the article about Kai's in the paper, I really wanted to try it because I love seafood. I had never tried a seafood boil, and I was curious about it. The restaurant was welcoming with a subtle nautical theme.
My mom and I shared a combo seasoned with lemon pepper sauce. The lemon pepper flavoring was fairly mild. I wished it would have been more lemony. Still, I enjoyed it. It was challenging to remove the shells from the shrimp and pick the crabmeat out of the legs. It wasn't hard, but it made the meal last longer.
For my sides, I ordered a potato and corn. I didn't realize it would be one smallish potato and half an ear of corn or I might have ordered another side. Since the crab and shrimp were very buttery, it would have been nice to have some food that wasn't so rich. I also think we way over-ordered as we had a ton of food left at the end of the meal.
The appearance of the food closely resembles the animals it came from, so I would discourage any sensitive eaters from going to a seafood boil. But for adventurous eaters, it could be interesting to try it. They supply you with tools to help you do the job, which for most kids would be a new experience.
Another thing to be aware of is you will get messy. You'll want to wash your hands and face when you're done eating.