I never did make it out to Joe’s Crab Shack in Latham. From the sounds of it, I didn’t miss much. I’m much more of a beverage guy than a seafood guy anyway.
One night, I wanted to grab an after-work-cocktail and was reminded I hadn’t checked out Brick House (in the former Joe’s Crab Shack/Dakota Steakhouse spot at the Route 2/7 entrance of Latham Farms) yet. After reviewing the menu at home, both Cassie and I determined there was little on the menu we wouldn’t order.
The parking lot was packed. We basically had to park behind the building that was formerly Wal-Mart and walk over. It wasn’t a terribly long walk, but we had expected that to mean we’d have to wait for a table. We didn’t. Actually, about 1/4 of the tables were unoccupied. It seemed like the majority of people using the parking were at the outdoor patio and bar.
They have a pretty extensive craft beer list, but a specialty cocktail caught my eye. The Zombie ($8.50 – Bacardi, Bacardi 151, Captain Morgan, Pineapple, Orange, topped with Myer’s Dark Rum). That drink screams “Tiki bar” and I can never say no to some Tiki drinks! Couple that with the fact that they’ll cut you off at two, I figured it was going to be worth the price.
To an extent, it absolutely was. However, I would have probably enjoyed this more if it was served in something other than a pint glass. It seemed like an odd and too convenient choice of glassware. It tasted great.
We had a bit of trouble honing in on what appetizer to choose, so we finally settled on the house baked soft pretzels ($8.50 – Salted pretzels with white queso, yellow mustard & sriracha ranch). They were tasty, but I think the menu description is a little misleading. They were definitely baked to order, but I have my doubts over how far back the preparation goes in the kitchen. I think they have these frozen and toss them in an oven, hence “house baked.” The trio of sauces weren’t really necessary. The mustard was standard issue “yella mustid” and could easily be skipped. They proved to me that Sriracha and ranch never belong together. The only sauce worth double dipping was the queso, which was halfway decent if not very good.
For dinner, I went with the shrimp and chips ($14 – hand battered butterflied shrimp, tartar sauce, hard cider apple slaw and fries). I actually enjoyed the shrimp a lot more than I thought I would. They were fresh and not cooked too far. The fries were pretty bland and standard issue frozen. The slaw was interesting. It had the bite of cider vinegar with a little hard cider flair. That helped to cut through the richness of all the fried stuff. The tartar sauce was forgettable.
Dessert was difficult to pass up that night, so I didn’t. Both the chocolate bourbon cake and ultimate brownie sounded great, but I ultimately settled on the cake ($6.50 – house baked Woodford Reserve bourbon soaked chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream & house made caramel sauce).
What made me go for this wasn’t the “house baked” claim on the cake or even the “house made” claim on the caramel, in fact, after the pretzels, those words meant nothing to me. It was the claim of “bourbon soaked chocolate cake.” My cake wasn’t bourbon soaked and wasn’t even bourbon spritzed. There was no bourbon. Otherwise it was very good.
We had another observation from that evening: the morale among the staff seemed very poor. Putting a grade on the service, our server skated by with a solid D-. She said everything she needed to say, took our orders, refilled our water at the outer edge of an acceptable amount of time, and checked on the table after the food was delivered. Other servers were even less amicable with their tables. And I even watched one server, frustrated that people were two deep at the bar, physically displace a customer. The only person on the staff with anything resembling a smile was the college aged dude server hitting on a late teen girl who was there with her entire extended family at the table next to us. Even the bartenders seemed miserable. We couldn’t figure it out, but it wasn’t for us to figure out.
Overall, I enjoyed the menu. I wish they’d do away with the borderline insincere buzz words on the menu, but that’s just me. I’d go back to check out a few of the other items on the menu. The bison burger actually looks like it could be pretty damn good!