Friday, October 2, 2009

Joe's Crab Shack - Lawrenceville, NJ

After spending the whole day at the Grounds For Sculpture, we headed to Joe's Crab Shack for dinner. Joe's is about a 20 minute drive from the Grounds For Sculpture. Since we were in that area and I had a coupon for a free Classic Steampot, we thought that it would be a great idea to check Joe's out.
Joe's Crab Shack is an American chain of beach-themed seafood casual dining restaurants. Even though Joe's is a nationwide chain, this is the closest outlet to us. Yes, I know. An hour's drive is a little far to come out here just for crabs (even with a Steampot coupon)! That's why we planned to visit the Grounds For Sculptures followed by Joe's. Good planning eh? :D

After parking our car (we had to circle the parking lot a few times to look for a spot), we headed to the restaurant. Look at all the people waiting outside. Something tells us it's gonna be a looooong wait for a table.

The moment we stepped in, we could see that the restaurant was packed to the brim! There were also people waiting inside. It must be a really popular place, since it was only about 5:30pm when we arrived. We thought that we were being smart by going early, to try and beat the crowd. Looks like everybody had the same idea! :P The hostess told us that it will be a 45 minute to an hours wait. Wow! So long!?!?! On normal circumstances, we would say screw it, we will just go elsewhere. However, we came all the way here just to eat crabs and I don't see us driving all the way back here again in the near future, so we had to suck it up and say "Sure, we will wait" :(

We tried to kill time by looking through the menu like a hundred times as well as checking out all the merchandise available in the gift shop.

We also headed out to the childrens playground just to see what's going on out there.

At last, we just figured the best place to wait for our table would be at the bar :P The decor of the whole restaurant was bright and fun, with really friendly staff that can sing, dance and play games with you.

Yup, that's right. Every half an hour or so, the lights would dim and all the servers would drop whatever they were doing and break out in a dance routine. I don't want to sound like a party pooper, but hmmm, I wonder if we will get out tables faster if they don't break out in dance ever so often :P Anyways, I thought that it's a pretty cool idea and it helps keep the 'fun' meter of the whole place up, the entire night.
After waiting for about 90 minutes or so, we heard Kevin name being announced over the loudspeaker. Ohh what joy! It felt like winning the lotto! At last we have a table :P We ordered our drinks, looked though the menu (again!) and quickly decided on what we wanted. They were also having a special promotion on appetizers while we were there. Only $5 for any of their featured appetizers.

After ordering, it didn't take long for our appetizer to arrive. We shared the Crab Stuffed Mushrooms ($8.29, promo price - $5). Six large mushrooms loaded with seafood stuffing, topped with Monterey Jack cheese and Cajun seasoning. It also came with a side of garlic bread. I do not know if we were hungry or if it was really good, but I found the stuffed mushrooms to be really really yummy. Maybe it was a combination of both. Either ways, we enjoyed it lots.

Since the appetizer came out fairly quick, we expected our mains to to follow suit. How wrong of us to assume that :P We waited and waited...each time our server walked by, he would give us a big smile and say, "hang in there guys, it's on the way". After waiting for about 25 minutes or so, our food arrived at last. Boy, the kitchen must be really far from the dining area, since our steampots were "on the way" to us for the past 25 minutes. Anywayssss, look at my happy face when I saw the crabs!

I had a coupon for a free Joe's Classic Steampot ($21.99 w/o the coupon). It was this huge steampot with half a Dungeness Crab, half an Alaskan Snow Crab, Boiled Shrimp, Smoked Sausages, Red Potatoes and Corn. How was it? Well, it was good but not the greatest. I felt that the crabs and shrimp were not all that fresh and it had that weird frozen seafood taste. You know how the flesh of crabs are firm and nice when cooked fresh and it becomes soft and watery when you cook it after it's been frozen? Yeah, it had that kind of texture. I am not saying that the crabs were bad but maybe, not that "cooked immediately out of the ocean" fresh.

Here is Kevin holding up a crawfish from his The Orleans Steampot.

The Orleans Steampot ($19.49) had 1 lbs of Crawfish, 12 Boiled Shrimp, Andouille Sausages, Corn and Red Potatoes cooked in Spicy Cajun Seasoning. Kevin said that the crawfish wasn't all that bad but it just doesn't taste like the ones you can get in New Orleans. He couldn't taste the Cajun seasoning at all. If he were to eat it like it was a regular steampot, then it would be pretty good. However, for it to be called The Orleans Steampot with Spicy Cajun Seasoning, it just doesn't cut it at all.

So, what did we think of Joe's? Well, the plus point is that the staff were really friendly and fun. The decor was also really nice and the whole atmosphere had a fun vibe to it. However, the wait was just way too long, for both the tables as well as the food. I also felt that the food quality was slightly below par. The name of the restaurant is Joe's Crab Shack, I would expect at least some decent crabs! I guess I shouldn't complain all that much though, since I got the Classic Steampot that is worth $21.99 free! If I had to pay $21.99 for that, I would be pretty upset :P Maybe we went on a bad day or maybe they couldn't cope due to the large crowd, I don't know. I guess we will never know, cos I don't think we will be returning to Joe's anytime soon.

Joe's Crab Shack - Lawrenceville, NJ
3191 US Route One
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
Tel: (609) 896 0360

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