There could not be better subject matter with which to kick off my blog. Let me start by telling you all a delicious bedtime story:
Once upon a time there was a man named Joe. He owned a tiny restaurant with his wife in Miami called (what else?) Joe’s Restaurant. The year was 1921. It was a successful operation—one might say Miami’s first hot spot, long before the pulsating night life of modern-day South Beach. But, oh, the best was yet to come!
One day, a marine biologist friend of Joe’s brought a burlap sack to the restaurant, full of curious looking crabs. He wanted to know if Joe had ever cooked these “Stone Crabs,” named for their rock-hard shell. He hadn’t, but both men were intrigued. At the time, everyone thought the crabs were inedible. No one touched them. The water was CHOCK-FULL of them.
Culinary experimentation ensued. The rest, my friends, is history, and seafood lovers lucky enough to experience the result lived happily ever after.
Joe’s in Miami is an institution. They say the maitre d’ is the most powerful man in town. That’s perhaps only a slight exaggeration. They don’t take reservations and you’ll easily wait three to four hours for a table (even if you slip the host a hundo).
‘So why on earth would you wait that long for dinner?’ you ask.
Simply put: THIS IS THE BEST CRAB (and perhaps the best food) YOU WILL EVER EAT. PERIOD.
With the Lettuce Entertain You branch of Joe’s at Grand and Rush, we Chicagoans are now lucky enough to experience the boiled-then-chilled, pre-cracked-to-perfection, briny-yet-slightly-sweet, tender, meaty, spicy-mustard-mayo-dipped AWESOMENESS that is a Joe’s Stone Crab claw.
The Joe’s menu is full of other delicious items … but when I see a table devoid of the gorgeous orange, black and white stone crab claws (or worse yet, full of snow crab legs or some other inferior crustacean) I have to refrain from having a fit in which I run over, grab the diner’s shoulders and shake them uncontrollably while yelling “YOU CAN’T COME TO JOE’S AND NOT GET THE STONE CRAB!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!”
Seriously, it’s that good.
There are a million other things I’d love to tell you about Joe’s, from the impeccable flavor of their key lime pie to my undying appreciation for Joe’s hammer-wielding crab-crackers, but before this already-long first blog post turns into an epic novel, I’ll stop and leave you with this beautiful sight:
(sigh). Perfection. Now can you see why I get so disturbed when people think this obsession of mine is geared towards Joe’s Crab Shack?