Note: This restaurant is no longer open downtown. There is a franchise in Cordova near the Wolfchase Mall.
Kristy, who chided me for eating at the Spaghetti Warehouse, has submitted her review of a restaurant that I would chide her for eating at--Joe's Crab Shack!
(Actually, Warren and I did take Satchel to Joe's Crab Shack when he was an only monkey and we were naifs. I remember a very scary balloon maker, lots of leftover food, and us deciding to never return.)
Joe’s Crab Shack
263 Wagner Place
One weekend this winter, when we were feeling boxed in by the crappy weather and bored with our usual Sunday dining routine, we decided to take the kids to Joe’s Crab Shack downtown on the river. I had been once a while back with two girlfriends and our collected progeny, so I knew they had a large indoor playground that we would be able to sort-of see from the table. So we went.
Joe’s is in the large space overlooking the river that was once inhabited by Landry’s Seafood. It’s the one you see from the trolley loop with all the fishing nets and crap hanging over the deck area. Since we went the day after a big, already-melting snow, we opted for indoor seating. The play area is in a large glass-encased room adjoining the deck. The ceiling is really high, and the room was either unheated or just really cold, so our kids weren’t quite as thrilled with it as we had hoped they’d be. They were more interested in the small, quarter-sucking arcade area outside the playroom. I had anticipated this and brought a baggie full of quarters, which I dispensed with the warning that THESE ARE ALL THE QUARTERS, AND THERE WILL BE NO MORE. We put the eight year old in charge of the quarters and let them loose.
The food at Joe’s can best be divided into two categories: A) fried and not too bad for fried seafood, and B) nasty. Stick with A. As soon as we sat down at the picnic-style table, our server brought out a mostly-iceburg-lettuce salad coated with a small amount of bottled Italian dressing and a plate bearing one biscuit and a corn muffin, which I thought was kind of weird. I was starving so I ate the corn muffin (not terrible) and some salad (like you probably ate growing up in the suburbs). For lunch I ordered a bowl of seafood gumbo and the crabcake appetizer. My husband, Richard, ordered the crab cake sandwich and fries. For the kids we got two shrimp baskets. Only two of our kids consume actual food on a predictable basis. The other one gets a few of their fries and is unlikely to even eat those.
Our food, such as it was, came out pretty quickly. Let’s start with the worst. The seafood gumbo looked like a bowl of mud and tasted like a bowl of wet salt. I like salty food, but this was so salty it was pretty much inedible. I had the impression that an inexperienced cook had misread the directions on the giant bag of “gumbo base” they undoubtedly had back in the kitchen, and forgotten to add the water. I picked a few shrimp out of it and called it quits. As for the crab cake appetizer, I looked at the plate and then checked the menu because I hadn’t realized that it was, in fact, “crab cake,” singular. For some reason I was expecting two. It wasn’t great, but better than the gumbo. Richard thought the sandwich version of the appetizer was bland but not the worst thing he’d ever eaten. The best thing on the table was the kids’ popcorn shrimp. It tasted like any other fried shrimp in any other restaurant. The kids’ menu also included other typical choices like pizza and chicken strips. One cute idea from the kids’ menu was the “Make Your Own Sundae,” which seemed to consist of two square ice cream sandwiches cut into triangles, with little bowls of sprinkles and other toppings that the kids can add themselves. We didn’t order dessert, but I thought the idea was kind of cool.
Our overall thoughts on the experience was that the food was somewhat crappy, but that we would likely come back in nicer weather to sit on the deck and have a beer or Bloody Marys looking out at the river, while the kids played in the playroom and on the deck. And we would stick with the fried fare.