Soulful, Floridian-style seafood restaurants are few and far between in Louisville, so thank goodness Seafood Lady is selling well-priced seafood downtown on Oak street. On the inside, the restaurant looks like it belongs right off the boardwalk of Atlantic Beach, with its coral rugs and kitschy hanging mermaids that I have without a doubt seen in a Coastal Living decor catalog. That being said, Seafood Lady’s front lawn is a cracked parking lot, and inside, spaces in the walls give a sneak peek to what seemed to be a little market next door. The restaurant’s somewhat sketchy exterior makes the small space resemble a literal hole in the wall, but the best places are, right?
Walking in, I immediately smelled butter and crab and cajun seasoning – all appetizing things to most, but not to my health-crazed mother. Once she got one look at the cheesy crab fries, all thoughts of veganism were out the window.
My mom and I dined at the Seafood Lady on a Wednesday night around 5:30. The sassy banter between employees highlighted the restaurant’s casual and welcoming atmosphere, but unfortunately, the open, garage-like entrance brought bothersome flies and inescapable heat. I don’t want to seem like a snob, but I honestly find flies buzzing through a restaurant unacceptable. Maybe I just caught them on a bad day, considering, the intense August humidity combined with the open doors didn’t help the creepy-crawly dilemma at all.
The restaurant was pretty busy, but the line was not more than five minutes long. Keep in mind there were places to sit, but it was not traditional sit-down dining. We ordered at the counter and sat ourselves, which was one of my favorite parts about the experience, considering most seafood places are more up-scale. Seafood Lady is that local joint where you can take the whole family for a calm and delicious evening.
After we ordered our food it was out in about seven minutes, a much shorter wait time than I expected. Although we were initially overwhelmed by options ranging from gumbo ($8) to fried oysters ($8), we ultimately decided on a full-plate ($25), which consisted of one and a half Snow-crab clusters, jumbo shrimp, and oddly enough, a sausage, a baked potato, an ear of corn and even a hard-boiled egg.
Butter soaked the dish, blending the flavors together. The snow-crab was “mom-approved.” Growing up on the coast, she knows good crab when she tastes it, and the sweet, delicate yet fiery cajun meat definitely exceeded her standards. The shrimp was also complimentary alongside the crab with its buttery garlic glaze. The sausage tasted sweet and smokey, reminding me of the smell that lingers around my family barbeques. In addition, the baked potato and the corn were perfectly cooked, but I didn’t dig into them all that much because of the surrounding deliciousness. Then there was the egg. I’m not the biggest egg fan, and it was a little odd in a dish of seafood, but nonetheless tasted okay.
We also decided to put ourselves out there and try some fried alligator ($6). I didn’t really know what to expect, but it was actually delicious. The treat was crispy, with a garlic zest that tasted a lot like chicken. I’m not afraid to say that I would get it again, hands down.
The full plate was more than enough, but we wanted to try everything. For a small group on a budget, the half plate ($15) could effortlessly feed three people. Or for anyone on their own, the smaller dishes like the fried alligator ($6) or oysters ($8) are incredibly filling and appetizing on their own.
To my surprise, the food was in styrofoam take-away boxes, which made the already oily and juicy feast even more messy. Although it didn’t make for the most elaborate plating, I feel like the humble white boxes along with the playful staff vibe connects Seafood Lady even more to its grassroots beginnings. Nichelle Thruston, the restaurant’s owner, got her reputation as the neighborhood’s “Seafood Lady” because she used to serve seafood on her doorstep. Her success propelled her to a food truck, and eventually to where she is now: her unique and delectable restaurant, the Seafood Lady.