I said I wasn't going to go back to Joe's, but a $7 off $25 coupon combined with $4 left on a gift card convinced me that I could chow down for $15. So on a day when I wasn't planning to go out to eat, I drove in at 2:20 pm for a big lunch. You've heard it all before, so this will be quick and dirty.
The last time I came in there were some people, but not today. Plenty of seats available.
I wasn't, however, the only customer in the restaurant.
My server was also the bartender and the runner (and I think the Manager), they definitely multi-task here. Iced tea was delivered and I ordered mussels and a new version of their "Redfish" which is topped with a so-called Lobster Sauce.
Never a problem getting big, plump lemons at Joe's.
The last time I got the "garlicky mussels" they forgot the garlic; they came out fairly quickly.
Bread is wrapped in paper; I don't know why. It's a good sized piece of bread.
They claim that the mussels come in a garlicky butter sauce, but they don't mention the water. There was garlic in it this time, but it's too watered down. Not enough butter to make it work.
The redfish came out as I was finishing the mussels; the orange topping reminded me of when my college cafeteria had their "Seafood Newberg". The redfish comes with crab fried rice.
The sauce didn't have much flavor; I largely scraped it off. It was a nice piece of fish for the price; I don't see how the spinach and mushrooms fit in.
The crab fried rice is kind of gimmicky; there's some crab in the rice but it doesn't really taste like much. Just think of it as fried rice. It's not bad.
Joe's continues to be a source of hit-or-miss food. Some stuff is good, and some is quite awful. It's not much different than most of the other restaurants in town.
This is my last visit to Joe's Seafood Shack aka Joe's Crab Shack. $36 left on my gift cards. Using it up today. Ignite's stock is tanking. I can't wait any longer.
Something different this time was that I wasn't the only one in the restaurant. Half of the dining room is ridiculously closed (as it's just 1 big room, why bunch everyone together?); I think they do this so the bartender can double as a server, since there isn't anyone at the bar.
Joe's Crab Shack Interior 8/14
I ordered an iced tea and looked at the pots and the buckets. There's really not much difference, except buckets come with a choice of sauce/seasonings.
You can probably guess the name of my server.
Joe's Crab Shack Iced Tea
I ordered the Lobster Daddy Bucket, which is a whole Maine Lobster, King Crab Legs, Corn and potatoes. While I was waiting, they brought me a bib and some tools and a big wet-nap.>
Joe's Crab Shack Tools
When they first opened, and at "Other" Joes, there's music and dancing; every 1/2 hour or so they do a dance. But they don't do it here, at least not at lunch. Music started out well with J Geils Band's "Centerfold" and segued into Neon Trees, Jodeci and Mariah Carey. Not too bad.
Finally the big pot came out.
Joe's Crab Shack Lobster Daddy Bucket
The Steam Pot was delivered without any butter; there's plenty of butter in the pot but it's flavored butter. Frankly I didn't like the "garlic/herb butter"; plain butter would have been better. She brought out a tiny thimble of butter.
The crab legs didn't look too fresh, but the lobster was a nice color, I dug in, starting off with a claw. It's a lot of work to get a piece of meat.
Joe's Crab Shack Lobster Claw Meat
Darn good though. The Claw is the best part of a Maine Lobster.
Joe's Crab Shack
A big problem with these pots is that there is no way that everything in the pot needs to be cooked exactly the same. So the corn was overdone. As usual, the stupid salt shakers they have here don't work, so I had to make bigger holes; I can't eat corn on the cob without salting it.>
Joe's Crab Shack Salt and Pepper
I didn't use the bib, but eating this is a big mess. My hands were coated in butter throughout the experience. The lobster isn't cleaned at all, and the tail was overdone. Crab legs are a lot of work to get a small bit of meat.
I did enjoy the meat and butter. But I have to question whether this is as good a value as some other things here. An uncleaned Lobster that isn't going to be perfectly cooked isn't worth more than $20. It's a good share with a big salad for $20 each.
There's only 2 Crab places in Fort Lauderdale; one where you smash crabs, and one where you don't.
Another day, another coupon. Today I got a Free Appetizer coupon from Joe's with no strings attached. I hate when I get a coupon and you have to buy "2 Adult Entrees" to get the deal. I still have some gift card balances, so off for another nearly free meal.
There's never a problem getting a table at Joes; and no, this is NOT the same picture as last month. Once again, it was me and the employees (and a fruit fly) in the big room.
Joe's Seafood Shack Empty 06/14
Some suspicion arose when my server sauntered over and wrote her name on a paper towel when she brought my Iced Tea. The reason was that the same thing happened yesterday at Macaroni Grill, and it was the second time in over 900 reviews that it's happened.
Joe's Crab Shack Tea and Gear
Coincidence? Considering the Joe's and Romano's are owned by the same company, I think it's fairly obvious that it's not just friendly servers; it's mandated by corporate. Kind of takes some of the interest out of it when it's not genuine.
For my free appetizer, I ordered the 18 piece bucket of shrimp. You can get them hot or cold; I ordered them cold. At $11.69 this is a helluva deal; figure you'd get 3 shrimp on Las Olas for that price.
Joe's Crab Shack 18 piece Bucket
Of course they don't clean them, but veins don't bother me too much. The shrimp were cooked properly, albeit in unsalted water. The cocktail sauce wasn't spicy enough and as usual, there wasn't enough of it. They give you 18 shrimp and enough cocktail sauce for 8 of them.
At "other" Joe's, and when this one first opened, they played good music and the servers danced every half hour or so; but they don't make the 2 servers here dance for an empty room. The music has also deteriorated into utter crap; Jade, Snow and NONONO followed by "Pretty Girl Rock". Remember your earplugs if you come.
I told my server to bring out the Crab Cakes any time as I wasn't going to eat all of the shrimp. I'd never had the cakes here; they don't have a Crab Cakes appetizer which seems pretty stupid at a Crab Shack. It came out after I'd had 5 shrimp.
Joe's Crab Cake Dinner
Presentation is not an issue at Joe's; 2 wobbly cakes, some boring looking french fries and cole slaw. The fries were actually quite good; crunchy outside and soft inside; the way good fries used to be made before the fake chefs started peppering them with parmesan and truffle oil. The cole slaw was edible; not well done but not too sweet or oversauced. Not really marinated well enough; they probably just made a batch for me.
The Crab Cake, which I expected to be mostly bread, was actually mostly crab. There wasn't much to hold them together; minimal cakes that were cooked dry on a grill. Not bad at all.
Joe's Crab Shack Crab Cake
The sauce was junk; they claim that it's spicy, but it doesn't add much to the Cakes. I took the 2nd cake home and I'll make a good tarter sauce and it will be much better. I also took home 6 of the shrimp.
Considering that you'll pay $32 for 2 small cakes at YOLO, this is a good deal for $18.59. Join the E-mail club and you can feast for under $20. The food here is definitely hit or miss, but they have some good things. Hurry before they move out the furniture.
First things first; this is a Joe's Crab Shack that's simply named Joe's Seafood Shack because of some territorial issue with the Joe's Crab Shack up in Lauderhill. I can say with confidence that this store isn't hurting that one at all.
I still have a gift card balance for Joe's, so I needed to use it up before they shut this place down. They don't even bother to put the Flag up anymore; signs that they're giving up are growing.
The had a hostess today; when I asked if I could "sit anywhere" she said, I'll show you a table. I didn't like the one she picked out, so I pointed at another and sat where I wanted to sit. The crowd was overwhelming.
Joe's Seafood Shack Empty Dining Room
There was 1 guy in a booth, 1 guy at the bar. And Me.
My goal today was to find something that leans "healthy". Most of Joe's salads sound creepy: the crapcake chipotle caesar is not something conceived by a great culinary mind. The New Orleans redfish caught my eye when I viewed the menu from home, but I ended up ordering a new item: The Lobster Cobb Salad, which seemed to have agreeable ingredients. It comes with an "creamy avocado"; I asked for it on the side, and also some blue cheese in case I didn't like it.
Music here has moved from very good to modern crap; Steppenwolf mixed in with "Thinking About You", "Survivor", "I Gotta Feeling" and a scary remake of "Montego Bay". With more servers than customers, service was snappy. The salad came out fairly quickly.
Joe's Crab/Seafood Shack Lobster Cobb Salad
First impression was that it was a pretty good load for under $15. I tasted the avocado dressing: not bad. I wasn't sure how lobster would pair with blue cheese; I used the avocado on half the salad with the lobster and blue cheese on the rest. These tomatoes are some sort of genetically mutated grape tomatoes; the skins were so thick that I could barely cut them with the butter knife provided. The lobster meat was clearly thawed, but overall was at least as good as chicken or shrimp.
I ended up eating most of it, leaving several tomatoes. Not a bad salad.
When I got the gift card back, there was no pen or line for leaving a tip; apparently Joe's is following the ridiculous trend of having to leave a cash tip. The Bozo bean counters don't seem to get that 1) Gift cards are advance payments, so they should be as good as cash and 2) When you give someone a "Gift", they shouldn't have to lay out the tip themselves. It's why a lot of these chains are failing; they fail to understand the basics of their businesses.
I'd be surprised if this place survives the summer. Ignite has no idea how to sell a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale; there's a trick to selling bad food here, and they're not in on it. They should consider cutting their losses.
I got a $10 off coupon (with a $20 purchase) so I decided to get a steam pot for lunch.
I'm not going to take another picture of an empty room at Joe's, but many things are still the same. Few customers, no hostess on Wednesdays, no dancing. They had 2 servers and a runner today. I seated myself and it took about 10 minutes for someone to bring me a menu. I should have known by now to pick up a menu on the way in.
Music continues to be the only highlight, with Michael Jackson's "Black or White", Otis Redding and No doubt filling the air.
I ordered The Orleans, which is billed as having 1 lb of crawfish, shrimp and andouille sausage "all spiced up". They brought me a bib, a wet nap and an oyster fork.
Joe's Seafood Shack Bib
I always had to ask for an oyster fork when I got something with mussels or clams, but I get one with shrimp and crawfish? It took about 15 minutes for the steampot to come out.
Joe's Seafood Shack "The Orleans" Steambox
I didn't anticipate the 2 big red potatoes, but I guess corn and potatoes come in all of the steampots. There were a lot of crawfish, a good amount of shrimp and a sausage link on the bottom.
First, the claim that this is "all spiced up" is patently false. In fact the pot had no seasoning whatsoever. The shrimp and crawfish has no flavor; I don't usually dunk shrimp in drawn butter but you can't eat steamed, unbrined shrimp. There was some powder on the plate, but it seemed that none of the spices made it onto the actual food.
The corn was very good, although I couldn't get any of the salt shakers to work. They are faux Corona bottles with caps that have holes punched in them, but every shaker I tried was hopelessly clogged. The tops can't be removed either.
I doubt that the sausage was andouille; andouille sausage is spicy, and this just tasted like smoked sausage. After eating half of it, I decided it wasn't worth the calories.
The shrimp were ok; but shrimp are falling out of favor with me. They're too expensive for what they are, and only the really big ones are any good. These were just a bland source of protein.
I'm not a huge fan of crawfish, and even less after today. It's like eating bugs; and a 2" crawfish yields an itty bitty amount of edible meat.
No better than shrimp and more difficult to deal with.
Steampots are an experience, and they're very messy. Forget about using your phone when eating one of these.
With $10 off it's a pretty good deal; about $14 for the pot and iced tea. It would probably be pretty good if it was spiced as advertised and if they had better sausage. But it's a pretty bland offering.
Disclaimer: I'm still using gift cards I got from Joe's, so this cost me $0. out of pocket.
I'm still working off some gift cards, so time for another visit to Joe's Seafood Shack, aka Joe's Crab Shack.
The good thing about Joe's is that there's always plenty of available parking. It's also pretty easy to get a good table. There was one dude at the bar.
They also have no hostess Monday through Wednesday, so it's pretty much self-service. I grabbed a menu at the door and found a table in the empty, cavernous room.
Joe's Seafood Shack Empty Dining Room
Eventually the server (there's only 1) notices me and takes my beverage order. I contemplate a steam pot, but instead decide on the Skillet Paella. Usually paella is a multi-person deal; with shrimp, calamari, sausage, clams and mussels I figure how can you go wrong?
The music here isn't as good as when they opened; Bad Company is intermingled with Alicia Keys and Mariah Carey. There's no dancing at Joes; at least not during Lunch on a Wednesday.
15 minutes to Paella....
Joe's Crab Shack Skillet Paella
The reason I'd never ordered this before was the inclusion of "crispy calamari", which has no place in this supposedly delicate dish. It just looks ridiculous sitting on top. Brushing it to the side reveals a somewhat scary looking load of rice with a bunch of shellfish and chunky vegetables.
Joe's Crab Shack Skillet Paella
Carrots? Real paella would have spanish chorizo; this has a few small chunks of cheap smoked sausage. There were quite a few shrimp buried in the rice. The sauce was horrific; an incompetent concoction of random stuff. I ate the clams, mussels and shrimp and left almost all of the rice. They call this a tomato-basil sauce but they left out the tomatoes and the basil; they would have been better off pouring a jar tomato sauce into some rice than this vile stuff.
It wasn't very much food; the bread was useless since I had no interest in dipping it into the sauce, so I figured I'd try a dessert. I ordered some Key Lime pie, which are described as a "tart pie with graham cracker crust and whipped cream". They have a flyer on the table with pictures to lure you in.
After a few minutes my server came out and informed me that it was frozen and they had to thaw it, if i was willing to wait. I went with the Sea Turtle Sundae instead.
Joe's Crab Shack Turtle Sundae
The chocolate cake doesn't look much like the pictures; it's more like a dark chocolate brownie. I'm not a big caramel fan, but this is good stuff. I only had a few bites; I should have skipped the garbage entree and just had the dessert.
I didn't have time for a real sit down lunch so I figured I'd stop in at Joe's and get a crab cake. When I arrived, there were 2 tables occupied and no-one at the bar; in that way Joe's is just like the Brick House that was here previously from the same owners.
You'd think that as the only customer service would be outstanding, but it's not the case at all. There's a certain lackadaisicalness in this chain; my last 3 visits there have been no dancing; dancing for an empty restaurant looks kind of silly, plus they likely only have a couple of servers.
I ordered an iced tea; I had to ask for sweeteners. The menus are laid out on the counter; still no raw bar menu, and they don' t have a crab cake appetizer oddly enough. I could have gotten a crab cake sandwich and taken it off the bun; and I considered the Paella, but the fact that they top it with fried calamari always scares me off. I'd had the diablo mussels at their preview which were decent; they're off the menu but they have "garlicky mussels", so I ordered those.
You get the bucket with silverware; I wanted the bartender to change the TV channel but he was no-where to be found; he was emptying garbage and he was also doubling as server for the tables. So even in an empty restaurant the service is sub-par.
The mussels came out in a big pot; bread comes wrapped in brown paper, which is kind of strange.
Joe's Seafood Shack Garlic Bread
As you can see from the picture of the Diablo Mussels, the bread offering has shrunk; The mussels themselves where ok, maybe slightly overcooked; none where closed but a lot of the shells were broken.
Joe's Seafood Shack Garlicky Mussels
I had to ask for an oyster fork. As for the taste, it appears that the "handmade garlic butter sauce" doesn't contain much garlic or butter; it was a wine sauce with zero bits of garlic in it. The sauce was clear, so there wasn't much butter, if any. When you dip garlic bread in the sauce and it ruins the bread; it's not a good sauce. A dish called "Garlicky Mussels" should have chopped garlic all over the mussels. No bits of garlic at all. I dug up some pictures on the 'net that had garlic bits all over the mussels, so it looks like its a "new" recipe from the new owners.
As I was eating the mussels, I quipped to the bartender "Still no Raw Bar Menu". "Oh, we do have one". He dug it out from an area next to the register. Great, how about putting it out before people order so they can consider buying something?
Another incompetent dish from Joe's. No wonder there's nobody in the place.
Time for another try at Joe's. They had a new menu item that sounded good; a whole grilled Maine Lobster with bacon-wrapped shrimp and scallops; how could they mess that up, right? So I headed over for a late lunch.
One good thing about Joe's is that it's always empty. You need a lot of space to eat this stuff. You get buckets and crab crackers and a roll of paper towels.
Joes Seafood Shack Setup
It started out fine; I started with a bowl of lobster bisque, which is always the "Soup of the Day". I've seen pictures on the web of this with a shrimp or some lobster meat on top, but this is the second time I've had it and there isn't any meat in it. It's a decent cup of soup though.
Joes Seafood Shack Lobster Bisque
Music here is mixed but on the plus side; Lenny Kravitz, some Blue Grass, and Jake Owen. My lathargic server wanders out with the food shortly after I finished the soup.
Joe's Crab Shack Maine Grill
My first impression was that it was pretty well done. I tried a shrimp first; what a shame; the delicate crustaceans had been cooked beyond recognition. Wrapping bacon around a horrifically overcooked shrimp doesn't save it. The lobster also seemed way overdone; they say this is topped with a "basil butter" sauce, but there was no trace of basil or butter.
Joes Seafood Shack Maine Grill close up
The brocolli is served bare, and no butter for the lobster, so I asked my server for some butter. I also asked for a clam fork as picking lobster meat out with a big fork isn't easy; but they don't have oyster forks at Joe's. They apparently also done have clarified butter, or at least their too lazy to ladle off the clarified part.
Joes Seafood Shack Butter
All I can say is that the broccoli was good. Two small claws provided the only enjoyable meat; the small, well done tail meat was uneventful. And I'm not a big fan of scallops. The dirty rice wasn't real dirty rice; it was rice with sage; no sausage or chicken liver in this stuff. All in all, a failure of a dish.
Another loser from Joe's. It's really unfortunate, if the food was half-way decent this place could be a nice option. But they don't seem to be trying. After the debacle that was The Brick House Tap and Tavern, I have to question if this restaurant group has any idea what they're doing. Maybe they'll close this and open a Romano's Macaroni Grill next?
No refill on my iced tea cost my server a dollar. And no dancing in the hour I was there either. Still no price list for the raw bar. Unbelievable.
The Ignite Restaurant Group, owners of the Brick House Tap and Tavern gave up on that concept at this location and converted this space into one of their other brands, Joe's Seafood Shack. In 2006, the group acquired the Joe's Crab Shack brand from Landry's; this is a Crab Shack with a slightly different name to avoid a territorial conflict.
If you've been to the Brick House, you'll recognize much of the decor. They've taken down the rude Brick House slogans and replaced them with Joe's more mellow 'Peace, Love and Crabs" tagline.
Joe's Seafood Shack Dining Room
The bar area has remained about the same, with the TVs and indoor/outdoor ambiance intact. There are no TVs in the dining room, unlike the old Brick House and the Crab Shack in Lauderhill. The big taps that only 6' tall people could reach are gone.>
There's a lot of refuse when eating crab; tables here are equipped with a central bucket for shells and other crab-related waste. You also get another bucket with your silverware; I didn't order crab so I didn't get any crab-cracking gear.
Joe's Seafood Shack Buckets
Every 20 minutes or so the servers break into a dance; sort of like a taste of Cancun in Fort Lauderdale. Obviously training at the Seafood Shack is more rigorous than your average restaurant; these moves are tightly choreographed.
Joe's Seafood Shack Server Dance
Before they opened, I attended a mock service and sampled a few items from their menu. The mussels diablo were a nice dish; as good as you'll get in any restaurant in town for under $10. Unfortunately, they've already removed this from the menu. I also tried the "Seaside Platter", a combination of Fish and Chips (1 filet), breaded scallops and breaded Shrimp. The Fish part of the fish and chips was fine; the fries not so great. The scallops were virtually inedible; mushy and fishy, while the shrimp seemed dry and not so fresh. One thing I noted was that they gave tiny portions of tarter and cocktail sauce.
My second visit had me sitting at the bar; they'd taken up some valuable bar space with their "raw bar" display case. Oysters, shrimp and Crab Legs.
Joe's Seafood Shack Raw Bar
At the mock service I'd asked the marketing rep for a price list for the raw bar, but they didn't have one yet. Two weeks later I asked again; still no menu. So they had this display case filled with seafood, but you can't buy it. Ok. I wasn't looking for a 2000 calorie lunch, so I ordered a cup of clam chowder and an order of 18 peel and eat shrimp.>
The clam chowder was outstanding, with lots of clams. As good as I've had anywhere around here.
Joes Seafood Shack Clam Chowder
The "bowl" is only 20% more calories on their nutritional chart, so I suspect that the bowl isn't really much bigger. They have a "soup of the day" listed on the menu, but word is that Lobster Bisque is the soup every day. I tried it at the Joe's Crab Shack in Lauderhill; it was good but didn't have any lobster meat in it.
The shrimp bucket is certainly a good deal; 18 shrimp for $11.89. These are not really spiced shrimp; the shrimp have no cooked-in flavor; they just sprinkle some old bay on cooked shrimp; and they weren't de-veined.
Joe's Seafood Shack Bucket of Shrimp
Again, they're very cheap with the sauces here; this wouldn't be enough cocktail sauce for 18 shrimp; I warned my server in advance so she delivered more before I ran out. They need more horseradish in the sauce also.
I went in most recently expecting to check out the raw bar, so I took a seat right in front of it. The raw bar steals half of the depth of the bar in this area, so it's a bit tight and awkward for the server as they can't see or reach your plates. I noticed that they had a new menu (the bucket of shrimp price was up and they had some new items); but no raw bar. There was only one server working the bar, and she was running around, so I decided not to ask about the raw bar menu. I just ordered up an iced tea and ordered the classic sampler. The tea was delivered with no lemon; when I asked for lemon she seemed confused,"For the Tea", I said., and then she offered up 1 heavily seeded slice on a napkin.
Music here is random but not bad, ranging from "Cotton Eyed Joe" to Carrie Underwood.
When they brought the sampler out, I was thinking that it didn't look much like the picture on the menu.
Joe's Crab Shack Classic Sampler
One thing I can say about this was that the chips were fresh and crisp. The "Balls of Fire" are said to be "full of jalapenos", but there wasn't enough in the balls to make them hot. So you basically have breaded cream cheese balls with 3 or 4 little pieces of chopped pepper in each ball. The ranch dressing provided was so watery that it barely adhered to the balls. The crab dip didn't taste much like crab; it was decent with the chips but I'd rather have spinach dip or plain cheese.
Joe's Crab Shack Crab Dip
The calamari were heavily breaded rings and tentacles cooked to a rubbery consistency; I removed the breading from one ring and literally could not bite it in half without pulling to rip it.
The cocktail sauce is awful; like a tomato paste with no kick. I didn't even bother asking for extra. Something I don't like is that the menus stay on the bar; they're laid out for you when you sit down, which is good, but they stay there throughout the experience, with plates on top of them.
As my server struggled to get to my plates over the raw bar case, I coyly asked about the raw bar menu. "Oh, we're the only Joe's that has a raw bar, so we don't have a menu for it yet". "You've been open for 2 months" I said, to which I got no reply. "Do you just throw all of this stuff out at the end of the day", I quipped. "Oh no", she said, "the Oysters last a few days". Great. Just great.
How long should it take to decide how much to charge for shrimp, oysters and crab legs? Or maybe they don't just don't trust this gang to serve raw food?
I read an article about Ignite's new marketing campaign, "100% Shore", because I had no idea of what it means. When a slogan has to be explained, you have some problems. There's all kinds of technical stuff, which doesn't seem to apply here. Their new restaurants are supposed to have nautical maps on the tables and sinks where you can wash your hands in the FOH; but we don't have that here. They also have new technology in the kitchen that's supposed to improve the quality. The seafood for the steampots are shipped pre steamed and refrigerated; they have "re-thermalizers" in the kitchen that are supposed to bring it back to a freshly cooked state. But everything here seems overcooked.
My guess on this group is that they're too big for their britches; this restaurant has the same issues as the Brick House had. The food quality and service isn't properly supervised, and things that are clearly wrong don't get corrected or acknowledged. They seem to have good recipes and good ideas; but the ideas don't translate to the finished product. Somewhere along the line the bean counters ruin the experience.
Disclosure: We attended a mock service, and Joe's provided us with Gift Cards