So one of our gang has a birthday and they want to celebrate at Joe's Crab Shack. "It's one of our favorite 'fun' places, and the food is pretty good...." (they aren't chowish, but we love them nonetheless ;-). Okay we're game. We meet at the corner groggery for some dwinks and 15 of us cab it down to Joe's on a pleasant June Monday night.....
We all arrive within 10 - 15 minutes of each other, and we are led to our reserved table. The earlier arrivals already have their drinks, so we sit there and wait to place our drink orders...and wait, and wait, and wait. It's moderately busy, so why is there only *one* slow - as - molasses bartender for the entire place? We finally get our drinks. Those who had ordered draft beer get bottles and when we tell the waiter "But we ordered draft beers", he answers "Well, I'll get you a glass for your beer, what's the difference?". A Stoli martini arrived, but it was actually a *Bombay* martini. One lady (who bartends for a living and does it *well*) had ordered a Beefeater, rocks, slice of lime. She gets it with a twist. "Honey", she tells the sweetly befuddled waiter, "You screwed up our drink orders, so I'm going to take you back to the bar and show you how to fill a drink order". She does, and about 45 minutes after we had sat down we finally have our drinks....
Immediately after, the waiter comes back, asking us if we'd like to order. "We'd like some apps...coupla orders of calamari, some potato skins, some cheese bread...". The waiter sez "Would you like me to bring that with your main courses?". We say "Ummm, no, we want to have the appetizers *first* and maybe another drink before we order our mains". Sez the waiter "Oh, well, I don't drink so I don't know what the sequence is here" (!)
Since we don't have water yet, we ask the guy to bring us all water. He returns with *two* glasses of water. "Now who wants water?", he asks in his goofily summer camp leaderish - way. "*All* of us!" we reply in chorus. So a few minutes later a bunch of busboys gives each of us *two* glasses of water. The lady who wanted her gin with a slice of lime gets a small plate of lime slices placed in front of her (she had finished her gin already, so the lime makes a nice addition to our water glasses, at least :-). One gal asks for another cocktail. The waiter rushes away to fetch it, while the rest of us are left with our mouths hanging open, the words on our lips "And I'd like..." left unheard....
The apps arrive. There are some pieces of breading with the odd tentacle or two sticking out. Guess that's the calamari. The cheese bread is just some pieces of French bread with Cheez Whiz drizzled over. The less said about the potato skins the better.....
The mains arrive. You guessed it - they sucked ;-) I ordered the fried shrimp plate which was a big plate of french fries with some shrimpish - tasting breading scattered about. I* think* I actually saw several shrimp of the 50 - 60 count size on the platter, but I can't rightly remember....
Two of the party are vegetarians (including our Gin Gal), so they order Caesar salads and ask for an order of pasta, without any seafood. Easy enough, right? Nope! The "Caesar" salads consist of iceberg lettuce ("Cut, not torn!") and some glop on top. The pasta arrives *with* the "seafood" (which appears to be a few krill scattered atop the mushy Prince spaghetti) .... They decide to just order more drinks and forget the food. The Gin Gal gets her Beefeater back with ("You guessed it!") a lime *twist*.
The veg sides that several of our party received appeared to have been on the steam table since about mid - 1967 or so. Is it broccoli? Green beans? You be the judge! And gee, that twice - baked potato! Is it one of those plastic restaurant "props"!?
The only things that appear to be faintly edible are the crab legs, which I'd deem on about the Red Lobster level. A pity they don't offer them deep - fried :-)
All the while we were having to bus our own table (most of the party are/were in the F&B biz so they know the ropes)...actually we saw so much inept service that we were itchin' to just get up and start running the joint *ourselves*.
Our hostess flags down the harried manager, who does his best to correct a situation that had gone wrong Oh So Many Ages Ago. We get a free round of drinks on the house (which later we discover have been added to the bill, so we have to get the manager again) and $65.00 off the tab. Our bill with a tip was about $30.00 per person (don't know how much of a tip was profferred, since I didn't see the bill and didn't ask).
We really couldn't get angry about the situation, since we were all in a good birthday mood. The staff *were* nice and eager to please, but there were far too few of them and they were ineptly trained in the first place. It was a combination of Basil Fawlty, the "Dead Parrot" sketch, and the Jack Nicholson diner scene from _Five Easy Pieces_. At least when we got back to the bar to further celebrate, we had a lovely birthday cake from the House Of Fine Chocolates awaiting :---))))
I notice that Joe's is owned by Landry's, the same big outfit that owns Rain Forest Cafe and other assorted mediocrities. One shudders to think that a lot of Americans consider eating at these places a "fun" experience....
Oh, and the bathrooms were in pretty dire shape. Bad sign.
Joe's Crab Shack, Chicago (zero stars)
745 North Wells
Chicago, IL 60610