This is a second venture from the same culinary team that runs the long-standing Claypots seafood restaurant on Barkly Street, St Kilda. The new venture is more like a seafood bar than a traditional restaurant, with plenty of tapas-style items as well as more substantial fare.
It's an intimate space with a small amount of tables and some outdoor seating, but the best seats are at the bar. An extension of the kitchen, the bar is the perfect spot to watch your food being prepared.
Claypots Evening Star's menu varies daily depending on the seafood available. A blackboard announces the current fare, or you can make your selection from the fresh fish displayed in glass-fronted refrigerators running along the front of the bar. Smaller items like scallops, prawns and oysters are priced individually so you can have as many or as few as you like.
We started off with scallops, served in a vinaigrette-style dressing that wasn't too heavy to overwhelm the delicate flavour, and then moved on to enormous grilled prawns with a spicy garlic and chilli dressing that packed quite a punch.
Deep fried prawns with plenty of garlic and chilli
For mains, we were stuck - unable to decide between the enormous seafood gumbo our neighbours were sharing with gusto, the delicious-sounding mixed-grill fish platter or the intriguing sambal Stingray. We asked for a recommendation, and after a couple of questions about our food preferences, the waiter suggested a whole cajun spiced flathead. A great size for two people to share, the Cajun spice complemented the fish's natural flavour.
Our neighbour at the bar, already a Claypots regular, told us of the venue's occasional live music performances by an apparently sensational Edith-Piaf style French piano player. With great food, knowledgeable staff and live music to boot, this is a promising addition to the developing South Melbourne Market culinary strip.