Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Party atmosphere, disappointing food

Joe's Crab Shack - Newport Beach, CAImage by TheRogue via Flickr
At Joe's Crab Shack, the fish and shrimp are a lot more satisfying.

Eat at Joe's for the shore vibe, festive atmosphere and dancing servers, but don't expect much from the signature crab dishes.

If you like noise and loud music, you'll find plenty of both at Joe's Crab Shack in Clifton, where dozens of the young, enthusiastic servers drop everything and dance every 45 minutes as disco lights revolve overhead.

Maybe the dancing and the servers' colorful T-shirts are designed to distract you from the ultimately disappointing crab buckets and steam pots at this chain restaurant. 

We started with cups of lobster bisque ($3.69 each) and I had a side Cesar salad ($3.19) before we shared two entrees, the Caribbean Feast ($19.89) and the Crab Daddy Feast ($29.99). 

The Sea Turtle Sundae was $7.49, and a cup of weak black coffee was $2.49. I declined a free refill.

With iced tea and lemonade, and a $12 tip, I ended up spending nearly $100.

My wife and son liked the lobster bisque and lemonade, but I thought the thick soup tasted more of corn than of crab.

Joe's calls some of its entrees "feasts," but take that with a grain of salt. 
I found the Caribbean Feast the most satisfying, with its juicy fillet of mahi-mahi, shrimp prepared two ways, and rice with pineapple and big chunks of carrot and other vegetables.

The Crab Daddy Feast combines Dungeness, Snow and King Crabs in a bucket with an ear of sweet corn and two boiled, skin-on potatoes.

All of the crab legs (not claws, as I wrote earlier) had one thing in common: They were soft and hard to crack, so it was a struggle to get the crab meat out of them. I ended up eating only slightly more crab than shell.

And the crab I did eat wasn't that tasty -- it bordered on being dry --  despite the spicy boil we ordered. 

I had asked the waitress if she knew the weight of the crab in the bucket, and she said each of two crab clusters weighed 18 ounces and there were two King Crab legs. 

Of course, I didn't have a scale at the table, but there seemed to be less crab than that.

We plan to return to Joe's for the twin-lobster steam pot, and to try more of the fish and shrimp. But we'll steer clear of those pesky crabs.

There are other nearby food options as well, including Zinburger and It's Greek to Me.

Joe's Crab Shack, 405 Allwood Road,
in The Promenade Shops at Clifton shopping center, 
Clifton; 973-777-5114. No reservations taken.

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  1. I went to this place late Saturday night and witnessed one of the most disgusting things I have ever experienced in my life. I had our waiter sit down next to us to offer suggestions then get up, take a paper towel, blow his nose in it, and then drop it in that little garbage can in the middle of the table.

  2. Unbelievable.

    Go online and send in a complaint.

    I did about the poorly prepared crab we got and I got a call and the offer of a gift card. At first, I was offered only $20, but asked for more and received a $40 gift card. After all, I spent almost $100 there.

    I was told the crab shells were soft because it was overcooked.

  3. Thanks Victor, I ended up sending them a message on their website and got a call from the regional manager as well as the store manager. I was told to get the information off of the receipt and call them back today so they can send me a giftcard.


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