The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
Joes Crab Shack makes a mean Margarita ($8.99). And a super strawberry peach sangria ($8.99). Plus you get to take home the Mason jar your drink is served in (actually, they give you a new one).
As I learned recently at the Houston-based seafood chain's third Long Island location, in Westbury, (others in Oceanside and Riverhead), what you also might take home with you is a headache. The cavernous space, with its beachy-wacky decor, reverberates from both the crowd and the dance music that plays sporadically, impelling your tie-dye attired server to drop everything and boogie to choreographed routines. Youre encouraged to get up and join in, disco lights twirling above.
If only all the food came up to the festivities. A classic sampler ($11.95) did show promise. On the platter: a retro-style crab dip, served with nachos. Not bad. While the great balls of fire fried seafood and crab balls with jalapenos and cream cheese were neither great nor fiery, crispy calamari were exceptionally tender.
But a classic steampot ($23.99) with Dungeness crab, snow crab, shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn, was undermined by what tasted like powdered and dehydrated seasonings. Shrimp and grits ($16.29) had a certain comfort factor, but the accompanying biscuit could have been used as a curling stone. And a crabcake platter ($18.95) featured flat cakes as salty as the sea itself.
If youre planning to join in Joes ongoing party, better call a few days in advance for a reservation. Otherwise, the wait can be well over an hour. Whether its worth it depends upon the kind of evening youre looking for.
Joes Crab Shack is at 1195 Corporate Dr., Westbury, 516-745-6728 and also at 355 Long Beach Rd., Oceanside, 516-255-3705 and 1490 Old Country Rd., Riverhead, 631-727-2783, joescrabshack.com.