Eat at Joe’s
We’re spending a day longer here than we planned. I thought we were coming home on February 23. American Air thought we were coming home March 23. Guess who won that argument.
The upside is that we took a long drive today and ended up in South Beach so we could have dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab, one of the landmark restaurants of the area.
Joe’s is open most of the year now, but for a long time was only open during stone crab season, from October to May. The stone crab is a unique story, because the only part of the crab they use is the claw. The crabbers haul their pots up from the ocean floor, and break off one claw from each crab, throwing the rest of the animal back into the water. The crabs will regenerate their claws, and when they get caught the following year the same process will be repeated with the other claw.
Joe’s does not take reservations. You put your name on the list and wait. Because we were relatively early, our wait was only 15 minutes, but when we left the wait was an hour.
The facility is enormous, and staffed by an army of well trained, efficient, tuxedo-clad waiters. They do a huge business, and need to turn the tables over as quickly as possible without rushing the customers or being in the least intrusive.
We all had the Joe’s Classic, a complete meal for $42.95. We started with an order of the fried asparagus. This is the south, where they will fry anything, so it seemed like a good idea to try one of our favorite veggies. The idea is good, but there really isn’t a good reason to take something a great as asparagus and turn it into death food.
On to the cole slaw:
You get a scoop of very thinly shredded cabbage, topped with a thick dressing, topped with relish. You mix it yourself, adjusting the ratio of relish to your taste. Not quite the classiest salad I’ve ever seen, but interesting nonetheless.
The entrées arrived. Three huge claws (although you can specify even larger claws if you like), creamed spinach and a hashed brown potato cake.
Stone crab meat is very mild and a bit sweet–not as flavorful as the dungeness we are accustomed to on the West Coast. It is served with a mustard sauce.
Gail ordered the King Crab Claws, which are larger so the portion only includes two, but that is more than sufficient. The stone crab is served cold, the King crab can be served either cold or warm, and is accompanied by drawn butter.
Gail thought the creamed spinach hit the perfect balance of cream sauce. I probably prefer some more cream, but my cardiologist agrees with Gail.
The hash brown cake was food. Not great, not bad, just food.
The whole process can be messy, so they provide bibs for the customers:
Included in the price is a slice of key lime pie, a Florida classic.
Lots of fresh whipped cream on top of an excellent pie is the perfect ending to a meal.
Joe’s is a South Beach legend, having been in operation since 1913. They have this business down to a science, and they are damn good at what they do. I think you should stick to the stone crab–you can get a steak or slice of grouper anywhere, this is the single best place in the universe to eat stone crab.
Service is excellent. Our waitress was completely on top of the entire meal, brought me drawn butter when i wasn’t fond of the mustard sauce and showed us how to get the meat from the shells most efficiently. For some reason I cannot fathom, the house wants the customers to sign the back of their dinner check–not the credit card slip (though that must be signed as well), but the actual dinner check the waiter has filled out. I’ve never seen that before and don’t understand it.
If you have to spend an extra night in Miami, Joe’s Stone Crab is a pretty darned good way to do it.