joesstonecrab.com (great website with history, menu, recipes, and online ordering to anywhere in the country from October to May)
Joe's is an institution, and not just for crazy people. It's been around a little less than a hundred years, and although I'm no expert (even though I'm a writer on this phenomenal blog), I think that is a good length of time for a restaurant to be in business. I frankly have no idea how they made it through the 1910's, since no one really lived in Miami then.
My good college buddy, Rich, was in town for his annual pilgrimage to the St. Patrick's Day capital of the world. I am, of course, speaking of Miami Beach. Part of that tradition is a stop at Joe's takeout, which people in the know have found to be a cheaper and easier way to enjoy Joe's staple dishes: stone crabs, hash browns, grilled tomatoes, etc. It's just down the street from the restaurant, west of the parking garage.
Well, our late start on Friday got us to the restaurant too late for takeout, and we prayed (yes prayed, Joe's is that good, my girlfriend is now quite surprised that I have not yet taken her there, and by "surprised" I mean "enraged", just kidding sweetie, you're beautiful and patient and we will go there soon, besides no one reads this anyway) that we would be able to be seated in the restaurant. Incidentally, the hours of operation are as follows:
11:30am-2:00 pm Tuesday-Saturday
5pm-11pm Friday and Saturday
Sunday Bar Service 3pm (I don't know what this means)
Joe's Stone Crab Take-away:
7:30am-10pm Friday and Saturday
Breakfast Served Daily 7:30am-10am
We arrived at just after 10:30pm on Friday night and were seated immediately. If you don't mind eating late, that has to be a great way to do it. Joe's doesn't take reservations, and some people wait for hours to be seated.
So, why don't I get down to the review already? Well, soooooorry! I hope you added a nice cadence to "sorry". It's like, totally sarcastic. What was I talking about again? Right, sarcasm. Oh right, I'M the weird one. You're the one reading this, weirdo.
Anyhoo, we were greeted immediately by our waiter, who was an extremely professional and polite guy. He took our drink order and was followed shortly by the busboy who brought water and bread. Living in Miami makes you appreciate little things like that at a restaurant (see any review of Hofbrau Haus by anyone who has the ability to eat and/or write).
Rich and I both ordered the seafood bisque, which is basically heaven in a bowl. It tastes like there's a stick of butter dissolved in each. Hmmm, maybe butter really does make it better...
We each ordered a medium (sizes of stone crab are medium, select, large, and jumbo, which refer to the size of the claws themselves, and not the number you are served), and I assure you, it will be plenty to eat and taste quite delicious. I consider it a waste to order the larger, more expensive claws. Just my humble opinion. I suggest you heed my advice since I'm really, really smart. The claws are served with Joe's signature mustard sauce, which is one of the tastiest condiments you will ever have.
De rigeur sides are grilled tomatoes and hash browns. Did I mention that yet? Some people like the creamed spinach, but I don't think it's that great. It's kind of sour tasting. The lyonnaise version of the hash browns is, I think, better, but a lot of people find onions disagreeable and they are heaped into that dish. We ordered a large hash browns and that was a mistake. A small is plenty for two people.
When I asked the waiter for a chardonnay recommendation, he suggested the second least expensive one (by the glass) and it was wonderful. This was a relief to me as I half-expected to get what I will henceforth call "the Barton G treatment", which is being told to order the most expensive thing on the menu. I shouldn't have fretted, since Joe's has such an excellent reputation, up to which it certainly lives.
There was no room for dessert, but you have to try the key lime pie if you've managed to somehow not stuff yourself to near-sickness. A meal at Joe's runs about $50-60 per person, depending on how much alcohol you consume. Rich insisted on paying. I insisted on accepting. Everyone was happy.