BOSTON – Steaming pots of seafood, Fried Oyster Po’ Boys, and golden Beignets served four different ways. Taking a bite of the Big Easy has never been easier, at Bootleg Special.
Brand new to Boston’s South End, Bootleg Special is a place where the food, the fun, and the festivities of the French Quarter are on full display. Chris Young and Stephen Chan are the men behind the place, and their passion for the bold flavors of New Orleans and the great seafood of New England served as the inspiration for the menu.
“Stephen and I really love Cajun seafood boils. And in Boston we have so much local seafood, why not bring it here,” Chris said.
“New England is known for our seafood, but a lot of times the way that is cooked – it can be a little boring. So we want to kick it up a notch and bring in some Louisiana spices and Cajun flavors, and make it more exciting,” Stephen explained.
They decided to serve it in a space that is equally exciting. While the outside of Bootleg Special doesn’t really look all that special, the inside transports customers straight to Bourbon Street.
“We have 30 foot high ceilings, a mezzanine; you’ll see a French Quarter design with Louisiana style iron work,” Chris described.
“You see the balcony like you would in the French Quarter, a lot of the older chandeliers. And then the concrete wall, that’s kind of the urban edge with the urban artwork that you see around the city,” Stephen continued.
There are all kinds of great eats on the menu at Bootleg Special, but the main attraction is definitely those Southern Style Seafood Boils.
“First, they grab all the seafood and they boil it in a big pot with all our special herbs and spices,” Chris began. “They pull it out, and they drain it, and they toss it in the sauce of your choice. It comes in this really big bowl and you put on these bibs, gloves, and you just go right into it.”
There are all kinds of seafood to choose from like big Crab Legs, Jumbo Shrimp, and plump Mussels. For a taste of everything, just order the restaurant’s namesake dish, The Bootleg Special.
“It has all our seafood, lobster, clams, mussels, crawfish, shrimp, mixed with potato and corn, and it’s all cooked in our seasoned boil,” Stephen explained. “Then we mix it with the Bootleg sauce, which is a lot of garlic, a lot of butter, and a lot of Cajun spices. It comes in a big platter. A lot of people are kind of taken back by the size and the portion of it.”
Before you dive into that big bowl of seafood, there are plenty of flavor packed apps to kick off your meal at Bootleg Special, like Chicken Wings that start sticky sweet, then bring the heat, Baby Back Ribs with an addictive Cherry Coke glaze, and a Cajun Fried Rice dish Chris just had to have on the menu.
“I grew up cooking fried rice for the family and I wanted to bring it to my restaurant. And what we do with our Cajun Fried Rice is a little bit of kick spice with andouille sausage, crawfish, egg and we really cook it on an authentic wok with high BTUs. With that high heat, you really get that smoky flavor for our fried rice.”
For a true taste of Louisiana, check out the Fried Oyster Po Boy with homemade remoulade and shoestring fries, and for a dish that looks simple but tastes sensational, the Garlic Noodles with shrimp are a must order.
“When you eat our garlic noodles, you’re going to taste sweet and savory, as well as a really good kick of garlic and butter,” Chris said.
To end your meal at Bootleg Special, an order of Beignets is the way to go. Best of all, these golden fried beauties are offered with all kinds of toppings.
“Our beignets are made fresh every day,” Chris promised. “You can have it traditionally – piled high with powdered sugar, as well as a bananas foster sauce, bourbon maple pecan, and a chocolate hazelnut sauce.”
“My personal favorite is Banana Foster Beignets,” Stephen offered. “That’s our beignets with powdered sugar, and then put ice cream on top with banana and our bananas foster sauce, which is spiced rum and some banana liquor.”
You can also enjoy those Beignets during Bootleg Special’s weekend brunch, along with other indulgent options like Fried Green Tomatoes, and impossibly fluffy Soufflé Pancakes.
“It’s really unique. It’s not like a traditional pancake that you usually get at any other place. It’s really light and billowy, kind of has and angel cake texture to it,” Chris described. “We serve it with maple syrup, condensed milk and fresh berries. It’s unbelievable.”
From Soufflé Pancakes to Seafood Boils, Bootleg Special is serving up a dining experience that’s as delicious as it is different.
You can find Bootleg Special at 400 Tremont Street in Boston, and online at bootlegspecial.com.
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