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It's a No-Go-To Joe's (Crabshack) for me !!!

While I’m not new to Chowhound this is a new handle for me. It has been several years since I’ve posted and I honestly forgot the information of my old name…but my experience was so dismal at Joe’s Crab Shack I had to re-sign up to post my experience.

I agree with most of the posters I have read here we need another mass chain casual restaurant like we need another Rt. 35/36 reconstruction plan. With that said I couldn’t resist going last night primarily because it was a Monday night and nothing else in the area is drawing a crowd so I followed the masses.

Joining me was a friend and our selections were as follows: We shared the Crab Nacho’s appetizers, 1. Order Crawfish half and half entrée 1. Big Daddy Lobster/Crab Pot.

The Crab Nacho appetizer was actually very good and tasty. Some kind of crab paste with other fresh veggie ingredients topping the nachos all combined for a new twist on nachos.

Crawfish half and half……….a combination of crawfish etouffee and crispy crawfish tails. I cannot stress to you enough how terrible this meal was. From the very bland presentation to the OBVIOUS slight freezer burn taste to the each of the combinations. The “crispy” was not crisp at all and had a very stale freezer taste too it. We all know the food isn’t made fresh at these locations but to have it actually have that slight freezer burn taste is not something you would expect especially from a restaurant open less than a month!!

The “Big Daddy” Lobster/Crab Pot was my entrée. Yes we all know that there is an entire industry geared towards the staging of food for menu’s and advertisements etc. When you look at the lobster pots in the menu or online you see a pot bursting with crabs and lobster potato’s corn etc. What arrives is a large pot with a lid which once you remove you see a nylon net with what looks to be the contents of Forrest Gumps fishing nets prior to the big storm!! I wouldn’t have been surprised if once I cut the net open a tin can or spare tire. The Lobster was less than a 1lb and honestly could have been a steroidal shrimp for all I know. The snow crab legs (yes I know Snow Crab are the smallest of the crab legs families) were so ridiculously small you almost felt guilty that a crab died to give it’s scrawny limbs for your dining experience. The abundance of the pot included two over boiled red potatoes a WAY over steamed piece of corn.

Yes I’m a big eater…..but to pay $25? and not even put a serious dent in your appetite after an appetizer is a very sad statement as to the value of the meal which these chain restaurants are suppose to pride themselves in providing.

Even more alarming is the fact that sitting at the bar and trying a selection of their drinks I’m nearly convinced they water down their drinks. I’m a straight vodka drinker by choice, chilled up with olives but NO vermouth. I consistently drink the same brand (Stoli) and I know the taste very well. The first one I ordered was very “flat” on flavor or even the classic vodka “burn” you general experience as an after taste. I didn’t complain I just figure maybe there was water in the shaker….or they over shook melting more ice etc. But when I ordered another one and watched them carefully and the drink came out the same very tame tasting manner my suspicion was set off. Also the fact they only fill the average sized Martini glass half puzzled me as well.

I went on to review their drink menu to select something else perhaps one of their many gimmicky drinks. It was after ordering one that I realized their mixed drinks (and their best sellers since I was sitting near the service end of the bar) are all pretty much pre-mixed and poured into a glass via a spout similar to the draft beers. It is only once the glass is filled by the spout that the drink is “topped” off with a liquor. So although the menu mentions 3/4/5 different liquor combinations building up the expectation of a drink with a punch…..the drinks actually have a far lesser alcohol content than that of a normally hand poured drink. (This is my ASSUMPTION upon my observation and tasting their drinks)

I would like to add to this review I wasn’t driving so my alcohol consumption while completely excessive was NOT reckless in its nature.

The staff was very good service was fine……the environment is loud and a quiet dinner conversation is not taking place here.

Overall I was completely under impressed and most likely will NEVER return to this or any of their locations.

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  1. It mystifies me how these places stay in business. The one and only time I ate a meal at a Joe's crab shack it was completely dismal and I've never been back since. Yet, I have friends who just love the place and consider it a big treat to go there. Go figure.

    1. I never understood the attraction of snow crab. It's difficult to eat and the meat is not particularly flavorful. Kind of reminds me of the taste of surimi. It seems mainly to appear at seafood buffets where the idea of "all you can eat crab legs" overrides the actual taste of the stuff.

      2 Replies
      1. re: equal_Mark

        I'm personally a fan of snow crab...i find the meat easy to pull and delicious in a clean, neutral way.

        Man I want some now!

        1. re: equal_Mark

          You've got to give the snow crab legs at Chickie's & Pete's a try drenched in their garlic sauce...messy and divine. And while there, the crab fries are also a must. Closest location to Monmouth area is on Rt. 130 in Bordentown.

        2. freezer burn taste overwhelms everything. there is no other flavor other than freezer burn.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Gastronomos

            Not true! The flavors of iodine and ammonia definitely overpowered the freezer burn in my Big Bubba Bukkit O Frozen "Seafood Style Calamari" Pork Rectii.

          2. I do not consider what is offered at this place, (chain) worthy of being consumed, much less being charged for it!!!

            1. The last time I went to one of these places, one of my dining companions asked if one of the ingredients (onion, I think) could be left off of his entree. The waitress said she didn't think so, but would check. A few minutes later, she said, "They say no, they can't. It's already got onion in it when we get the dishes shipped in, so we can't remove it after we thaw it."

              1. I found the same thing with Red Lobster and the Vodka. Way Watered Down. Now I know. Was there to celebrate Grandsons Birth Day, certainly not my choice.

                1. I ate at the location near me in Olathe KS about a year ago, and since then am continually amazed to see that it's still open when I drive by. The food was just awful, and yes, freezer-burn was the dominant flavor in my little pot o' crab. I'm not a huge eater and the portions seemed ample enough, but so nasty I wasn't tempted to finish it. Horrible warehouse atmosphere and the service seemed deeply demoralized. I admit that I sort of knew better, but I wanted crabs and figured it would at least maybe be okay. It was not.

                  1. We went there several years ago, and it was quite the dismal experience. I ordered some mixture that had crawfish and shrimp, and other stuff. The farking dancing singing waiters interrupted the conversation in general, and some time during that, one of them dropped a full drink tray and some broken glass got into my drink and food. Before my meal got shrapneled, i noticed that the crawfish and shrimp were tiny and rattling around inside the medium-sized shells, so they'd been soaked in whatever that chemical is that fluffs raw seafood up. It was absurd, and expensive.
                    What with the noise, broken glass and the shrunken overpriced seafood, I never gave a thought to going back.

                    1 Reply
                    1. I've only been once; ex BIL was paying.

                      I've never been back. Or wanted to go back.

                      And the ads make it look so good.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: laliz

                        Those ads are tempting, and seriously how do you screw up steaming crab legs? but based on CH feedback, I'd never go there. Thank god for the internets :)

                      2. Went once with a friend of mine after spending the day at the beach with his family. Even after having a few drinks on the beach, back when you could legally drink on the beach in San Diego, it was much worse than any meal I ever had at Red Lobster. Yes I have been more than a couple of times to RL, my BIL just loved it. The thing that really bugs me is that the parent company closed several Chart Houses in California and turned them into Joe's. While Chart Houses may not be great and probably over priced, they are a hell of a lot better than what I ate at Joes.