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Side Dish

Flatsgoers Itch for Crabs

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With Landry's Seafood Restaurants Inc. of Houston pulling the plug on its Landry's Seafood House in the Flats, the national chain will replace the relatively sedate eatery with a Joe's Crab Shack, a more casual concept that the company says is "better suited" to the location. Company PR materials politely describe Joe's atmosphere as "energetic, enthusiastic, and noisy," with dancing servers, newspaper-covered tables, and rambling wrap-around decks. (Sounds like Flats material to us.) As you might expect, the place pushes crabs, and lots of 'em, in dishes ranging from crab cakes to crab balls to a variety of crab-studded seafood platters. Burgers, steaks, and chicken dishes, as well as regional eats like red beans and rice, also put in an appearance. Entrée prices run from $10 to $16. The spot can seat 234 guests inside and, once warm weather returns, it can handle another 140 a-singin' and a-dancin' patrons on its riverfront patio. Besides Landry's and Joe's, the company owns The Crab House and Willie G's restaurants, for a total of 145 spots in 26 states. The new Joe's is expected to open in January.

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Last call . . . Classics (2065 East 96th Street), Cleveland's premier source for classic Continental cuisine, in an atmosphere of the utmost civility, will serve its last supper on Saturday, November 20. General Manager Barbara Rulli said she and Executive Chef Marion Smith had briefly entertained the notion of going out with a 20-course Titanic-style dinner, complete with an ice carving of the sinking ship, but eventually their sense of discretion won out over despair. Instead, the kitchen will stick to, well, classics, like the Steak Diane, Veal Oscar, and Rack of Lamb Persille that have charmed guests since the beginning. Rulli, who has been with the restaurant for 18 years, says the dining room is nearly booked up for the final night and promises the last meal will be as wonderful as the first. Neither she nor Smith (who headed the kitchen until 1996 and returned earlier this year to preside over the final months) has any immediate employment plans. The restaurant, along with the Omni International Hotel in which it is located, is being razed to make room for a larger Intercontinental Hotel on the same site.

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"Smack My Ass and Call Me Sally . . ." Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of hot sauce, where product names are nearly as nasty as the capsaicin burns they leave on your palate, and the principle of pleasure through pain is illustrated as vividly as in any porno flick. Bottled hot sauce is now a $2.5 billion industry nationwide, attracting both connoisseurs and collectors, who savor the wacky names and wild label art as much as the hot sauce itself. Locally, Asian Spice and Sauce, booth E11 at the West Side Market (1979 West 25th Street), carries one of the city's largest selections, and owner Narrin Noud-Carlberg says the hotter it is, the faster it sells. Some of the more colorful product names on Noud-Carlberg's shelves? Another Bloody Day in Paradise. Nuclear Waste. Ass in Space. Terror in a Bottle. Belligerent Blaze. Billy Bob's Belly Blisterin' Pepper Sauce. You Can't Handle This Hot Sauce. Heinie-Hurting Red Hot Hot Sauce. Hot Bitch at the Beach. Mean Devil-Woman Cajun Pepper Sauce. Tyrannosaurus Sauce. Holy Shit! Habanero Hot Sauce. And our personal favorite -- Honey! Where Da' Hell Is My Hot Sauce?

Tips are encouraged. Contact Elaine T. Cicora at ecicora@clevescene.com.

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