Crabby’s Seafood Bar & Grill

It’s laughable, really.

 

To think that you could have one of the finest seafood meals you’ve ever tasted inside a plain building next to a Sav-A-Lot grocery store, which is located in a landlocked town that’s situated over 1,000 miles from both the West Coast and the East Coast seems, well, preposterous.

 

But don’t let the absurdity of this idea keep you from seeing for yourself, because if you did, you’d miss out on dining at one of the best restaurants in Joplin.

 

And that’s no laughing matter.

 

Like a beacon in a sea of meat-and-potato cuisine, Crabby’s Seafood Bar & Grill beckons those who yearn for the taste of fresh seafood in Ozarks. It’s one of the restaurants where I take people who are visiting Joplin because I want to impress them. After all, just because our city is small doesn’t mean it doesn’t have gourmet restaurants.

 

At the helm of Crabby’s is owner Chef Damien Tiregol, who received the honor of Chef of the Year in 2017 from Feast Magazine, a publication that covers the culinary scene in Missouri and southern Illinois. I’m glad to see that Chef Damien’s creativity and talent are being recognized by someone other than his loyal patrons because he’s an incredibly skilled chef.

 

My husband Travis and I recently dined at Crabby’s, and I’m still thinking about the meal (which is making my stomach growl as I’m typing this). Actually, it’s not just the meal that was memorable – it was the experience.

 

crabbys exterior (1)

The restaurant’s simple, windowless exterior belies the sophisticated urban atmosphere inside.

 

crabbys interior

The small, softly lit dining area is separated by a full-service bar, which you can sit at if you need to wait for a table (reservations are recommended during the weekend).

 

crabbys artwork

The work of a local artist Josie Mai currently adorns the walls, creating a unique wallscape which changes regularly to feature different artists (the pieces are for sale, too). The feeling inside is cozy, but still busy enough to make you feel like you are out and about in a big city.

 

For an appetizer, we ordered the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes.

 

crabbys crab cakes

This signature Crabby’s dish was served with a smoky roasted red pepper ragout, and the refreshing sauvignon blanc I was drinking provided a nice contrast to the dish. Crabby’s drink menu offers a variety of wines to pair with your meal, as well as cocktails to sip on while you socialize (the Raspberry Lemon Drop Martini is my favorite).

 

Our entrees came with the choice of soup or salad.

 

crabbys salad

I normally choose the House Salad with Crabby’s light and refreshing Honey-Lavender Vinaigrette, but since the Butternut Squash Bisque had just returned to the menu for the fall season, I felt conflicted. In the end, I made the right decision: I chose the salad with a cup of the bisque.

 

crabbys butternut

The creamy bisque was slightly spiced, and lightly sweetened with a touch of brown sugar and molasses. This dish says, “Welcome, Fall,” and is a treat that I look forward to each year.

 

Travis chose an item that’s on the menu year-round: Seafood Chowder. The hearty chowder’s richness was accented by a dash of spice and smoky bacon.

 

Steak, pork, chicken, and duck dishes are alternative entrée options for those who want to order something besides seafood. However, Travis and I ordered seafood dishes because when in Rome…

 

crabbys sea bass

I ordered the melt-in-your-mouth Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass, which was topped with mirin sauce and served on a bed of wasabi mashed potatoes, along with grilled asparagus. The combination of Asian-inspired flavors in this artfully plated dish make it a popular menu item.

 

crabbys shrimp

Travis ordered the Grilled Scallops and Jumbo Shrimp, a Cajun-influenced dish served with smoked Gouda grits and bits of spicy andouille sausage. This is another one of my favorite dishes here, as it reminds me of the food I enjoyed when I lived in New Orleans.

 

You would think that we’d be stuffed to the gills by this point – and you’d be correct. But I felt that it was my duty to order dessert so that I could do a thorough job of describing the Crabby’s experience to those of you reading this. What a sacrifice, right?

 

We ordered the Signature Bread Pudding and the Creme Brulee, which were both delicious in their own ways. The hearty bread pudding was buttery and boozy, and a favorite of Crabby’s customers.

 

crabbys bread pudding

The fruit-topped Creme Brulee made an elegant dessert, with its dense custard contrasting nicely with the layer of crisp, caramelized sugar.

 

crabbys creme brulee

Crabby’s is a restaurant to visit when you want more than a meal. It’s where you come when you want an experience. And tasting Chef Damien’s creative fresh seafood dishes in landlocked Joplin, Missouri, makes that experience one of a kind.

 

Crabby’s serves lunch and dinner, plus Sunday brunch. It is located at 815 West 7th Street in Joplin. Click here to visit its website, and here to see its Facebook page.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

The Eagle Drive-In

With its sleek black-and-red trim, mirrored windows, and retro sign, The Eagle Drive-In looks like a typical American burger joint from the 1950s. In fact, burgers are served here – they’re just not the kind you expect at a typical drive-in.

 

eagle facade

Take the Salted Caramel Bacon Burger or the Buffalo Bill Burger (a bison burger topped with a blueberry barbecue sauce): it’s like Julia Child waltzed into a Wendy’s and fused its basic menu with her epicurean sophistication. It’s an unlikely scenario to imagine, but it does exist right here in Joplin.

 

Except in Joplin, Jason Miller is our Julia Child. A hometown boy and New York-trained chef, Miller is the owner of The Eagle Drive-In, as well as Instant Karma, a restaurant in downtown Joplin where gourmet hot dogs are the stars. Miller brings ingenuity and worldliness to the menus at both restaurants, and his novel dishes have created a loyal and wide following among area diners.

 

My friend Carrie and I are two of those loyal diners, and we recently met for lunch at The Eagle Drive-In. While the restaurant no longer functions as a drive-in, it retains its nostalgic charm – and size. So if you arrive during the busy lunch or dinner rush, be prepared to wait, as there are only about 10 tables inside. But I promise that your patience will pay off.

 

eagle interior

On the day Carrie and I visited, I ordered a water to drink (it was a work day for me), but The Eagle Drive-In’s Jalapeno Margarita occupied my mind.

 

eagle jalapeno margarita

This spicy, refreshing drink has made my eyes water each time I’ve ordered it, but I don’t let that little inconvenience stop me from sipping this tasty libation. Other adult beverage options here include 10 beers on tap (which change regularly), Bloody Marys (regular and spicy), as well as a full bar.

 

eagle tap

For an appetizer, I ordered Joplin’s Spiciest Shrimp Cocktail, made with plump jumbo shrimp and house-made spicy horseradish sauce.

 

eagle shrimp

The shrimp were so huge that I only ate two and took the rest home for my incredibly appreciative husband Travis. More adventurous eaters can choose from appetizers like mussels, bone marrow, calamari, and chicken-fried escargot.

 

For my entree, I ordered the classic Eagle Burger, a ⅓-pound beef patty topped with Cheddar and Swiss cheeses, mixed greens, tomato, onion, pickle, and – here’s the twist – a fried quail egg and Eagle sauce (a creamy red sauce with a touch of smoke and spice).

 

eagle burger

A fluffy brioche bun added another story to this architectural creation, and I felt sorry for Carrie who had to watch me try to stuff this monstrous burger into my mouth.

 

Then again, Carrie had a similar challenge with the huge Falafel Sub, which is a great menu option for vegetarians; it’s also easily modified for vegans, like Carrie, by omitting the feta and tzatziki sauce.

 

eagle falafel

The Eagle Drive-In also offers other unique burgers made from lamb, elk, or salmon, as well as a variety of sandwiches, salads, and main entrees like Ahi tuna and beef tips. You can also abandon the menu and go with the flow by ordering the chef’s creation of the day.

 

If you order a burger or a sandwich, you get to choose one side dish, and both Carrie and I picked the hand-cut fries which come with the choice of two dipping sauces. With over a dozen sauces to choose from, this was a difficult decision, but I finally went with the Curry Aioli (subtle and creamy) and the Wasabi Aioli (lively, yet not overpowering).

 

If the temperatures outside had been warmer, we would have eaten at one of The Eagle Drive-In’s picnic tables. I like seeing Joplin restaurants adding outdoor dining spaces. We have a pretty nice climate here (compared to Chicago, where I grew up), and I always look for places where I can be outside while I eat.

 

eagle sign

The Eagle Drive-In may look like a typical retro drive-in, but it will surprise you with its creative gourmet menu items. It just might become your new regular hangout.

 

The Eagle Drive-In is located at 4224 Hearnes Boulevard in Joplin. Click here to visit its website, and click here to find out what the daily special is on its Facebook page.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Uncorked@1201

Relaxing in the glow of a crackling fire while sipping a smooth cabernet is a great way to unwind after a hectic week.  And savoring a gourmet meal on top of that?

 

Well, that makes for an over-the-moon experience.

 

Last Friday, I was able to decompress in the laid back atmosphere at Joplin’s newest addition to the restaurant scene: Uncorked @ 1201.

 

Located in a bustling retail area on 32nd Street, Uncorked is an extension of the popular eatery Club 1201, which serves lunch during the week, brunch on Sundays, and offers monthly wine dinners. On Friday and Saturday nights, Club 1201 opens up the cozy, intimate portion of its complex called Uncorked.

 

Uncorked and Club 1201 are owned by local restaurateur Linda Williams, who has a knack for the business. She clearly knows what the people of Joplin want, as both Club 1201 and her downtown restaurant Club 609 (managed by her brother Steve) have been successful for years.

 

Both Club 1201 and Club 609 (named after their street addresses, in case you’re wondering) offer upscale casual food with an eclectic twist. Each restaurant is decorated with a unique theme that injects playfulness and personality into each dining experience: Club 1201 utilizes vintage door frames and architectural details for decoration, Uncorked’s current nautical themed interior will soon transform into a ski lodge feel for the winter, and Club 609’s walls often highlight the talent of local artists.

 

Keeping things fun and fresh, both with the décor and with the food, is what keeps people coming in. And once again, Williams has nailed it with the opening of Uncorked.

 

uncorked table

This is the type of place where you can unwind with friends or reconnect with loved ones. Cozy and intimate, there’s just a handful of dining tables and a few stools at the bar, and the restaurant can only seat about 25 people.

 

It’s an ideal space for a small private party; for larger events Club 1201 opens the adjoining restaurant space (they offer both on-site and off-site catering services).

 

Uncorked’s menu offers appetizers, salads and sandwiches, shareable plates (like tapas), as well as full entrees (each consisting of a meat dish served with a vegetable and a starch). There are gluten-free items and kid’s menu items, as well.

 

Three words printed at the bottom of the menu sum up the overall intention of the restaurant: share, uncorked, unwind.

 

Ever obedient, I shared some dishes with my husband, sipped some uncorked cabernet, and unwound.

 

uncorked hummus

The appetizers we sampled included the hummus, the banana rumaki and the fried asparagus. The hummus flavor changes each week. We sampled the roasted red pepper hummus (the week before it was pumpkin). It was served with wedges of crisp fried naan bread (an Indian flatbread).

 

uncorked banana

Uncorked’s unconventional take on traditional rumaki piqued my curiousity, so I had to try it. Here, smoky bacon was wrapped around sweet, ripe banana bites instead of the usual water chestnuts, and then drizzled with a saffron oil and ponzu reduction (ponzu is like a citrusy soy sauce, by the way – I had to Google it). The pairing of these ingredients results in a delectable sweet/savory dish that reminded me of eating pancakes and maple sausage together (think a gourmet McGriddle).

 

uncorked asparagus

 

We rounded out our appetizer selection with the fried asparagus. The bright green stalks were coated in crispy panko, and held together nicely when dipped in the accompanying truffle mayo.

 

When we asked which item was the most popular from the “Anchors” or tapas section, the answer was the bruschetta steak sliders. I’ll admit, I was not thrilled to eat a burger on our “date night” after a crazy week of fast-food meals eaten in the car while rushing kids from one activity to another. Still, they were popular for a reason and I wanted to find out why.

 

uncorked sliders

After my first bite, I knew.

 

These melt-in-your-mouth-tender steak burgers, topped with prosciutto, herb cheese and a balsamic reduction, were served in soft naan bread and tasted nothing like traditional hamburgers. The balsamic reduction’s touch of sweetness complemented the saltiness of the cheese and offered a hint of sweet/savory flavor. Can you tell that I’m obsessed with this dish?

 

As my husband and I fought over the last bite of the sliders, our entree arrived. We had ordered the Chicken Bijan, which consisted of feta, basil and prosciutto roulade medallions drizzled with balsamic glaze. Not only did it offer a lively treat for the taste buds, but it also provided a feast for the eyes with its artful presentation.

 

uncorked chicken

A gluten-free entree, Chicken Bijan was served with a hearty portion of fluffy mashed potatoes and tender Brussels sprouts – a vegetable that I love but rarely see served in Joplin restaurants.

 

So, what about that glass of wine in front of the fire that I was talking about at the beginning of the post? Well, my husband and I finally abandoned our forks, grabbed our wine glasses and waddled out to the patio.

 

uncorked patio

Ahh. This photo is from Club 1201’s Facebook page. It was too dark for us to get a good photo of the patio by the time we got there, thanks to the end of Daylight Savings Time.

 

It’s had to imagine that this relaxing outdoor gathering space, with its loungey South Beach feel, was recently a sterile concrete space. Now, plush cushioned seating lines the exterior of the building, beckoning patrons to unwind, have a relaxing conversation, and breathe in some fresh air.

 

I love that Uncorked offers this outdoor space. I often lament that there aren’t many al fresco dining spaces in Joplin, despite the generally mild climate here (well, at at least this Chicago girl thinks it’s mild).

 

uncorked fire

And when there is a chill in the air, like there was on the November night that we visited Uncorked, the heat from the patio’s stone fireplace provides a comforting warmth, and encourages lingering.

 

And we did just that.

 

 

Uncorked @ 1201 is located at 1201 E. 32nd Street. Click here to visit its website.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

 

Club 609

Regardless of whatever music is playing on the speakers, whenever I walk through the doors of Club 609, this is what I hear playing in my head:

 

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name

And they’re always glad you came

 

If you were around in the ‘80s, then you’re probably singing the theme song to Cheers right along with me now, and if you’ve been to Club 609, then you’ve probably seen the similarities between this Joplin institution and the fictional Boston watering hole on TV.

 

Perched at the bar is Joplin’s equivalent of Norm, who greets old friends and new faces with a twinkle in his eyes and a smile in his voice.

 

If you are a first-time visitor, you’ll be welcomed here with a mix of curiosity and familiarity, kind of like the girlfriend that your brother brings home for Christmas after a semester away at college.

 

When you’re here, you’re family – whether or not you’re a local.

 

609 outside

 

The welcoming atmosphere here has made this my go-to place for celebrations, and since Club 609 opened in 1990, there have been many, many celebrations: birthdays, weddings, friendships. With a daily happy hour, great food, and playful decor, I always know that I’ll have a good time.

 

I recently met my friend Carrie here for dinner on a Friday evening. While we waited to order, I did some people-watching (this is a prime place for doing so). The bar stools were already packed with professionals unwinding from the work day (yes, Norm was there), and the tables were filling with families, couples, and groups of friends out for dinner.

 

I ordered a Key Lime Martini, which another friend had introduced me to years ago. Made with vanilla vodka, pineapple juice, and lime juice, it tastes like a tropical vacation.

 

609 martini

 

Make that two tropical vacations, thanks to happy hour.

 

While Carrie and I sipped our cocktails, a friend of hers from high school stopped by our table. While they chatted about old times, I checked out the art display on the walls; a new local artist is regularly featured here at Club 609, and it’s always blows my mind to see the high caliber of talent that lives here in southwest Missouri.

 

Then it was time to decide what to order, which is always challenging here because there are so many delicious items on the menu: appetizers, sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, seafood entrees, beef entrees, and chicken entrees (like Chicken Bijan, which consists of roulades of chicken breast wrapped with bacon and stuffed with feta and basil, then finished with a balsamic glaze – it’s one of my favorite dishes here).

 

I chose to order another one of my favorite dishes, the Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich. It’s made with a juicy grilled chicken breast, a slice of ham, and a six-cheese blend, all layered inside a piece of soft flatbread, then served with creamy Bechamel sauce for dipping (which I could bathe in because it’s that good).

 

club 609 cordon bleu

 

Sandwiches here come with a side of fries or homemade chips, but I chose to substitute a house salad instead because I was craving some greens.

 

club 609 house salad

 

And also because I wanted the tangy, crispy fried parmesan cheese that comes with the salads here.

 

Carrie ordered the Chargrilled Vegetable Salad, which was an ideal vegan option for her. Her salad base was a bed of tender baby spinach which was then piled high with grilled broccoli, carrots, portobello mushrooms, red onions, and toasted almonds.

 

club 609 chargrilled salad

 

The food here has been consistently good over the decades, and it’s nice to be able to enjoy it in Club 609’s smoke-free atmosphere.

 

While Carrie and I didn’t close down the place that Friday night (although I’ve done my share of doing so over the years), we left Club 609 relaxed and happy. It was a perfect choice for escaping from our everyday routines and enjoying a friendly atmosphere.

 

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go…

 

Club 609 is located at 609 S. Main St.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.