Thursday, December 3, 2015

Florida Seafood Scene - Rustic Inn

A big reason why my parents enjoy traveling is to get regional foods that we can't enjoy here in New York City. For example, if you've ever been to Japan, you know the sushi is so much better there. And don't even get us started on finding anything close to authentic Mexican food in Manhattan.

So on this South Florida trip, I knew my father was going to have his fill of stone crab claws, a local delicacy. And this time, the stone crab was in season (unlike our May 2012 trip).

Within an hour after landing at FLL Airport, we drove to the nearby Rustic Inn Seafood Crabhouse. This place looks like they're going for the "fishing dock" look, but replace the beautiful New England charm with Florida's version of commercial Americana culture.

Because we wanted something different, my father ordered us the Fried Gator & Frog Log Combo ($14) to start. My father had tried both decades ago, but he thought it would be "fun" to have his adorable 4 year old try them. I agreed, mostly because it would make a great story for my PreK class to hear about.

Here's a close up of the fried alligator bites. It was a white meat, which surprised me a bit and had the texture of a pork chop. They were cut up into pieces that could have been anything, so visually it didn't give me any reservations. Overall, I liked it a lot and ate a few of them without any sauce.

The frog legs were another matter. They clearly looked like what they were and I was less certain about enjoying eating them. My father took a bite and the meat fell right off like slow cooked chicken wings. To be honest, I was less crazy about these frog legs and preferred taking down some more gator bites.

But the reason we came to this restaurant was for the Crabs. Specifically, my father wanted Stone Crab Claws which were pricey ($28 for a pound) but consistent with the other places we visited. They were of course delicious, especially that ubiquitous mustard sauce on the side.

But the Rustic Inn also specialized in other crabs (including golden crabs, Alaskan king crab legs and dungeness crabs). Since we couldn't choose just one, my family shared an order of the Crab Lover's Delight Combo ($48). Trust us, it was PLENTY for all of us to share.

As you can see, you come here to eat, not to dress fancy, so we'd highly recommend not wearing your nice clothes and be prepared to get your hands dirty. They give everyone bibs and wooden mallets to slam open your crab shells. Note for when I'm older: Crab restaurants are definitely not a first date recommendation.

The total tally for the "massive crab lunch" was just under $100 before tip, but clearly there were more modestly priced options on the menu. And since we ate at 3PM, we skipped dinner completely. So our "linner" wasn't too hard on the wallet as it averaged out to two ~$50 meals.

Overall, we enjoyed our first Florida meal here, but the crabs were so drenched in butter (as if they were cooking in a liquid butter for days) that both my parents had some stomach issues. Guess they were not used to that volume of saturated liquid fats. Rustic Inn was good, but probably a one-time experience for us to be honest.

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