The ignite restaurant group will be opening a variation concept of Joe's Crab Shack called Joe's Seafood Shack in the location where they previously ran the Brick House Tap and Tavern on US1, so I wanted to check out Joe's. While not that far from civilization, it takes at least 1/2 hour to get here from downtown.
Their tagline, "Eat at Joe's", is out of place here; it's become a rhetorical placeholder phrase usually referring to a small, local business. Joe's Crab Shack is a big, national chain with over 110 locations. This is a chain restaurant in every way. This location has a "game room" and a playground with a slide.
t's a very large place; larger than most reastaurants of this type. As the name "Crab Shack" implies, Joe's is ultra casual. Joe's makes Bubba Gump seem like fine dining.
The bar area didn't seem too comfortable; I was eating an early dinner and the place was still dead; they put me at a nice big booth with a view of the expansive dining room. They have good music playing; The Bangles, Genesis and Sheryl Crow's "Soak Up the Sun". There are TVs in the room, but I wouldn't say that this is a great place to watch the game.
You need a bigger table than normal, because eating crab is messy business. There's no mallets at Joe's, but each table does have a big bucket for refuse, a big bib and wet-nap, and various crab cracking tools.
I can eat crab without a bib, particularly when there is no mallet smashing. I think my server was some sort of manager; she was manning the bar and a few tables, and she asked the table next to me how the server was doing. She was very thorough in her explanation of how things work, and she didn't bother me while I was eating. I forgot to order the lobster bisque, and I had a bit of trouble getting her attention. It came out a minute after I ordered it.
This is better than your typical "shack soup", although there were no chunks of lobster meat in it. A smooth, nice tasting soup that was better than expected. It didn't take me long to polish it off.
I'd ordered the Samual Adams Crab Boil, which is a New England style boil featuring Main lobster claws, clams, red potatoes, King Crab legs, sausage and corn on the cob.
When she first put it in front of me, it reminded me of the boil I'd gotten at the Hollywood Ale House. This was 50% more expensive at $25.95, but there was a lot more stuff. More clams and a big kielbasa sausage. The boil had 3 small lobster claws; if you want to know what they do with undersized lobsters, this is it. I've never cared for king crab legs, not because I don't like the meat, but because the amount of work necessary to get a small amount of meat isn't worth the trouble. The crab and lobster was ok; the lobster was a tad overdone; good baby corn and I liked the sausage. A lot of different stuff that was a lot of work to eat, but enjoyable.
Note that this stuff is messy; I must have used a half a roll of paper towels while eating, and even after using the oversized wet-nap I had to wash up in the bathroom on the way out. Using your iphone while eating crab tends to mess up the screen as well.
Joe's markets all kind of gear; their current slogan is peace, love and crab. All of the servers wear one of the tee shirts. There's nothing attractive about them, but you can buy one in their gift shop if you like them.
I don't yet know what Joe's Seafood shack will be, but I suspect a similar super casual concept with more seafood and less crab. It's certainly going to be worth a look; there aren't a lot of big, family style restaurants in eastern Fort Lauderdale.