Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tonight's Special: Try It - You May Love It

Sometimes being a single diner in a world of couples and families can be a little daunting.  Especially when you walk into any Joe's Crab Shack (Orlando), a seafood restaurant that also specializes in recognizing special events - like birthdays, anniversaries, bad hairdos.  The music is always good and the wait staff always shows you a good time.  This was just another typical Wednesday night at a Joe's Crab Shack - 99% families, couples and groups of twenty-somethings, and 1% single lady, me.

This evening I didn't feel like sitting with the masses, so I headed to the bar.  It was deserted this time of night, mid-week, so I knew I'd be comfortable.  At least I'd be away from most of the raucous noise of the general dining room.  Julie was tending bar and serving dinner.  She recommended the Kendall Jackson Chardonnay and I agreed.  The slight taste of butter was delightful after a day's work, and the wine shone with a greenish, straw-colored hue in the crab shack light.  The barely-there lemony flavor and the creamy finish combined for an experience as smooth as liquid yogurt.  The chill was perfect and the finish was toasted oak with a nutty kick.  Solid, steady, you always know what you're going to get with a Kendall Jackson wine.
My "view"
Joe's Crab Shack is not a place to go for quiet contemplation.  When I say they have a lot of birthday recognitions, they have a LOT of birthday recognitions!  There were three birthday celebrations and one Conga line-dance before my first glass of wine was served.  Thankfully, Joe's is not one of those chains that has succumbed to their own "special" birthday song.  They sing the old stand-by, Happy Birthday Song, which encourages the rest of the restaurant to chime in.  Joe's still generates excitement for birthdays, and I guess that's not all bad.  Everyone is smiling and

Julie allowed me time to enjoy the chardonnay and review the menu.  I was all set to order, but then she launched into tonight's specials.  One in particular sounded interesting - the Snapper Pontchartrain.  A beautiful, gulf-grown Red Snapper covered up in mushrooms and grilled shrimp is how she described it.  I had to try it!  As Julie said, "how often do you see Snapper Pontchartrain on the menu?"
The Red Snapper was served up with a healthy portion of broccoli and dirty rice.  It was a pleasure to see the majority of the plate filled with fish and veggies, and only a small portion allotted to the rice.

The Snapper was spicy and blackened, made salty from the Gulf's saltwater and tasted devine!  It was perfectly cooked, with the crispy skin and edges giving way to the sweet hot red meat inside.  The Pontchartrain sauce was a complex complement to the Snapper and simply grilled shrimp.  It featured an amazing blend of spices, garlic, cream, mushrooms, chardonnay and salt. 
But you have to leave room for the dirty rice!  That's what you use to sop up the extra Pontchartrain sauce!  When you run out of rice, use the broccoli.
All in all, the special of the day was quite special.  It was very filling, fresh, nutritious and unique.  The meal and the wine, combined with the smiling service provided by Julie, made for an absolutely wondrous evening for a dinner at the bar.

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