Rustic Inn Crabhouse
Name: Peter Confalone
Lives in: Miami Beach
Restaurant Pick: Rustic Inn Crabhouse
Reviewed Rustic Inn Crabhouse: 12/29/08 at 7:30 p.m.
I learned about the Rustic Inn Crab House from my New Jersey based family who were drawn to the place over the last half-century by the “World Famous Garlic Crabs.”
Wayne McDonald started with a cozy one-room roadhouse saloon in 1955, and the McDonald family just kept adding on rooms. Today this Old Florida landmark seats 300 and on the night I ate there almost every seat was taken. The wait, they don’t take reservations, was only 15 minutes and we were seated on the coveted outside waterfront patio.
The patio is on a dock along the Dania Canal, the tables are covered with butcher paper and there are wooden mallets on each table for cracking the crabs. An ample pile of paper towels per table plus a few washbasins are available to keep you clean, not to mention the, oh so, fashionable bibs. Each time a birthday is announced everyone bangs their mallet on the table. The cacophony is shocking at first but it’s a fun unique experience.
For appetizers I had a cup of Islamorada Conch Chowder and split the Super Clam Combination along with a Yuengling beer.
The chowder was red and spicy, full of minced conch, chopped vegetables and salt pork. A delicious starter that always gets your juices flowing.
The Super Clam Combination brought two each of: Baked Stuffed Clams – chopped clams mixed with breading, bacon and topped with parmesan cheese; Clams Casino – whole clams topped with bacon, chopped peppers, onions, garlic and cheese; Clams Oreganata – whole clams topped with breading and oreganata; Oysters Rockefeller– whole oysters topped with spinach and cream. For the most part I stay away from these crustaceans but these scrumptious
classics are what dreams are made of and to get this variety on one plate was great.
For an entrée, I usually have the Garlic Blue Crabs but they were on the 86 list, (86 meaning out-of-stock) posted at the front door. I can, however, from past experience attest to the addicting ritual of cracking and sucking the garlic infused sweet succulent crab meat from the shell. If you’ve never had them, I suggest you, “grab life by the claw.” It’s also fun to toss the empty shells into the canal and watch the fish jump.
My disappointment was short lived when I spotted Pompano on the menu. Pompano is a local wild species I have recently discovered which you don’t find on many menus. Here, the preparation of this sweet tasting fish was extraordinary. It came broiled whole with onion butter sauce, dusted with seasoned breadcrumbs and served with coleslaw, parsley buttered potatoes and carrots. It was outstanding! It was a good size portion at a reasonable market price. This was accompanied by a cold bottle of Frascati also at a reasonable price.
For dessert I had homemade Key Lime Pie, which our delightfully charming server Lori R. told us has been made by the same lady for 50 years. It came with a cloud of whipped cream at one end and had firm creamy filling that achieved a perfect balance between sweet and tart. There is a lot of Key Lime pie in Florida this one is a winner.
The wait-staff, from the hosts to the servers, were efficient, knowledgeable and extremely pleasant. Like our lovely waitress Lori, all the servers seemed to enjoy as well as enhance the friendly fun atmosphere.
The Rustic Inn is an original delectable, dining destination to be treasured. 55 Years and Still Crackin’. It’s a part of “Old Florida” I hope we never lose.
Name: Amy Pastor
Occupation: Registered Nurse
Lives In: Pembroke Pines
Restaurant Pick: El Toro Taco
Reviewed Berries Restaurant: 01/07/09
This restaurant has been around for over 50 years and most people know of it. Their menu contained numerous names of “famous” people that have eaten there. I have eaten here four times and each time I ordered crabs and each time I was super satisfied and licked my fingers with a smile. Because of this, I decided to order something different. The calamari was so rubbery I thought I was chewing an oversized rubber band and I could barely swallow it. But, the batter was tasty and light and it was not greasy. The marinara sauce was delicious, they must make their own. I’ve had better calamari when I order take out from my local Italian pizza joint, I must add.
The main course was locally caught Pompano, at market price. It cost $20 and was grilled perfectly. When the plate was placed in front of me, I smelled it (couldn’t help it) and it was not fishy at all. The Pompano was tender, light and flaky white meat and I had no problems with bones. It was really good and not filling at all. It’s obvious it is a freshly caught fish.
My friend ordered the Shrimp Scampi. What a waste of time and money! The pasta had NO flavor! As much as we tried to mix it all up, and move around the oil, still we couldn’t taste anything, not even garlic. The shrimp was butter- flied, medium size and tender. I’ve come across many scampi recipes in my lifetime and unless this traditional plate has changed its’ ingredients (and no one told me) it takes and needs fresh garlic. No herbs on the pasta/plate to enlighten the flavor and appearance either. It could have been made by a fifth grader, and not a smart one. Dessert was a slice of Key Lime that was very chilled & very creamy, just enough tart and so very delicious. I had a Margarita (I know, it doesn’t go with this meal but I was in the mood for it). It was made with Cuervo and it was good.
The service was slow. Slow to get the drinks to us, the calamari, the food and the check. The magic word that evening was “s-l-o-w”. Waitress was nice; parking attendants are more than accommodating and very friendly.
But unless you plan to wear a bib, grab a mallet and pound away at garlic crabs, go elsewhere! There’s a large menu but it seems that their specialty (crabs) is probably the only thing worth ordering as an entrée. It is my opinion that if you’re going to invest in a restaurant and you want to have good food and be consistent, then you must have more than one item on the menu that’s worth ordering. I mean, what happens if you’re allergic to crabs, or you’re on a date and don’t want to get dirty and you have to order something else? I personally would tell that person to go straight to the dessert and save their money.
Name: Amanda Patterson.
Occupation: Jewelry Designer
Lives in: Miami
Restaurant Pick: Berries in the Grove
Reviewed Rustic Inn Crabhouse: 12/24/08 at 8:00 p.m.
First off…if you like crabs, this is a place you must visit. When we first arrived the parking lot was completely full, which is always a good sign. Despite all the cars in the lot we were seated right away, because the restaurant is huge and can easily accommodate a lot of people. The interior is what you would expect from a typical crab house. It’s rather dark and full of nautical themed pieces.
Right off the bat, our waitress brought menus and started explaining all the different types of crab and helped us navigate the menu. On her suggestion we ordered the garlic Florida Golden crabs, the conch soup and the broiled dolphin platter. The soup was a delicious way to start the meal. The Golden crabs were really succulent and the garlic butter they were prepared in was excellent. Be prepared to work for your food though. At the start of your meal they bring you a wooden mallet to smack away at your crabs! You get approx. 2 pounds of really fresh crabs served a la carte, more than enough food for one person. The dolphin platter was also very good. It was broiled in a lemon onion butter sauce and served with butter parsley red potatoes. Although the fish was very fresh and flavorful, the crabs were definitely the hit at our table.
We loved eating here. This restaurant has been around for over 50 years and somehow we missed it. Now that we know about it, we will definitely be back. I think it would be a great place to take a large party of people. It really is a fun place to eat. I wouldn’t suggest going here on a first date though. It takes a lot of hard work and concentration to crack open all those crabs. We found ourselves forgoing the conversation and focusing on the crabs. Not to mention it gets a little loud when all the wooden mallets are banging away on the tables.
Location: 4331 Anglers Ave. (formerly Ravenswood Rd. ) Fort Lauderdale Fl 33312
Type of Cuisine: seafood, steak and pasta
Meals Served: Lunch and Dinner
Accommodations for Children: Yes