Saturday, August 18, 2007

Restaurant Review - Joe's Crab Shack, 10 Blake Blvd, Celebration, FL

A fruity little drink from Joe'sSince Joe's Crab Shack is right around the corner from where I work, I often go there for lunch during the week. About six months ago, I noticed that Joe's completely changed their menu - both in look and in food items. They went away from the very flashy "Eat at Joe's" designed menu with mostly fried foods to a beach-scene look with more "healthy" items. (Too bad their interior decor stayed the same - a junky garage sale mounted on the ceiling and walls of the place). Also, while perusing their children's menu, I saw they has some really fun new items. The boys and I have eaten there several times recently for dinner, with the boys inviting friends with them.

Joe's Crab Shack has a playground outside their dining patio which draws the kids in like a magnet. My boys are no exception and they typically run there first and I have to remind them that we need to get seated at a table first. On two recent occasions we were able to get a table on the patio right by the playground. However, Joe's does allow smoking on the patio so keep that in mind. The last time we went, it was about 100 degrees out so we opted for an inside table with the promise that the kids could go on the playground after dinner.

A note (warning?) about the playground. For some unknown reason, Joe's decided to use small pebbles on the ground around the play area. They post several signs that say "Don't throw the rocks" but EVERY SINGLE time I have been to the playground, kids are throwing the pebbles at each other. Also, there is one "swing-out" bar that the older kids like to fly out on. The last time we went, a friend's 2-year old got tackled as she walked by the area from an older kid swinging out on it. So, I definitely recommend watching your kids while they are playing here.

Joe's Crab Shack did a good job with their new kids' menu. I like that they have a little cartoony picture oJoe's new kids menuf each of the entrees so that even little kids can pick out what they want Joe's Kids Popcorn Shrimp dishby pointing at it. For $4.99, kids get a choice of chicken fingers, mac-n-cheese, popcorn shrimp, grilled chicken, mini beach burgers, pizza, or cheese quesadilla. Each meal comes with a side item such as fries, mandarin oranges, corn-on-the-cob, or rice, as well as a drink - soda, lemonade, or milk/chocolate milk. On our latest trip, BB ordered the popcorn shrimp and LB ordered the mini burgers, with cheese.

The regular menu now has some nice salads - the Aruba salad comes with a choice of chicken or coconut shrimp mixed with field greens, bacon, tomatoes, candied nuts, and bleu cheese, topped with a strawberry vinaigrette ($10.49). The mix of flavors is really tasty, as well as the variety of textures. I ordered the chicken, trying to be healthy, and then wished I had gone foAruba Salad with chicken - go for the coconut shrimp insteadr the fried coconut shrimp. The chicken Joe's Kids Mini Cheeseburgerscubes were very bland and even the tangy-sweet dressing couldn't help them. My new favorite item is the Pacific Coast Wrap - fried fish wrapped in a spinach tortilla with black bean & corn relish and a jalapeno ranch sauce ($7.99). The crispy fish is warm and crunchy and contrasts nicely with the cool relish. The jalapeno ranch sauce is not too spicy at all and just adds a very small bit of heat - nice! Plus, the spinach tortilla gives the illusion that you are actually eating something healthy when in reality you know you are eating a fried fish sandwich. And, my old favorite is still there - the lobster bisque soup - although you have to ask if it is the soup of the day. Seriously, this is the best lobster bisque soup I have ever tasted. I don't know how much real lobster is in it, or if it is just langostino, but all I know is it is good! The broth is very creamy, but not too thick, with a rich lobstery, buttery flavor. And it is loaded with meat so you get a taste in every bite.

One strange (annoying) thing about dining at Joe's Crab Shack at night is that the servers have to stop periodically to dance. Yes, it's true. The disco ball in the ceiling will start to spin, and a song will come on such as the Macarena, and all of the servers stop what they are doing and go to the edges of the restaurant and start doing a choreographed dance. This can be fun if you already have your food but it is very frustrating when your server is about to bring you drink refills and then tells you that she has to go dance and will bring them after. Luckily, this does not happen during lunch hours.
Kids can paint a crab for dessert!
The kids did very well finishing their meals so we decided to get them dessert. We ordered each of them the new Paint-a-Crab. For a very reasonable kids' dessert price ($1.79), each kid gets a Rice Krispies Treat in the shape of a crab along with a paint brush and three "paints". The paints are strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce, and wildberry sauce. The kids had a blast with this and got very serious about their artwork. Then they had a good time eating the crabs afterwards.

Now, Joe's Crab Shack is certainly not a relaxing dinner out with the kids. But for a fun, slightly hectic, and loud night out, it does fit the bill.


Cortni said...

Thanks for the great review! I've never eaten at Joe's, but it sounds like a fun place to take the kids.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this information! I couldn't find the kids menu on their website. Very helpful!

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