Updated
Aug 2nd, 2019
First Posted
May 8th, 2016

Rustic Inn Crabhouse

4331 Ravenswood Rd
Dania FL, 33004
(954) 584-1637
Overall Rating
2.5
Food
Service
Ambiance
Value
Last Review
07/31/2019

Details

Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30-10:45pm, Sun Noon-9pm
Dress Code: Casual
Parking: Private Lot
CC: Yes
Alcohol: Full Bar
Entree Prices: Moderate
Outdoor: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Delivery: No

Pros

Good Value
Lunch Specials
Elite Crab Smashing
Free Parking

Cons

Dated, Crusty Decor
Sub-Par Food
Wobbly Presentation
No Wet Naps or Oyster Forks
Messy Stuff

Critic's Review

Sometimes I feel like having some fish, and I don't want Mahi, Salmon or Grouper, so I head over to the Rustic Inn.

A big NY based restaurant group bought this place a few years back, but not much has changed. They haven't even refurbished the place.

So old weathered deck; only the back room is open for lunch.

At 2:20p the place was pretty crowded; more crowded than expected. They stop serving lunch at 2:45 for some reason; the lunch menu is quite a bit less expensive. Paying dinner prices at 2:50 seems wrong.

I made the mistake of sitting outsize once; Heat, wind and mosquitos can ruin the experience. Inside is more my speed.

Tables are prepared for crab smashing, not a sandwich or piece of flounder. But I'm not a fan of crab. A lot of work for little reward.

The place was very loud today; some sort of birthday gathering and a lot of people smashing crabs with mallets.

One smart thing they do is they post the wifi so you don't have to ask. Other restaurants should take note.

The food came out in 14 minutes.

The $16.95 flounder place is a boatload of food. Rice, Potatoes, Vegetables, cole slaw and a nice portion of flounder..

The last time I got this it wasn't that good; today was much better. I asked for extra butter for the potatoes and vegetables. Nothing on the place is outstanding; the cole slaw is edible, the veggies a bit dry but not overcooked; the rice has some unneeded spice. The tartar sauce just ok. But I just keep eating.

I wouldn't have to eat for 2 days after this.

Conclusion

Prices are up a bit, but hey haven't cut down on the portions; this place still delivers large portions of mediocre, seafood shack food. If you've ever been here before you know what you're getting; it hasn't changed much in many, many years.

Review 5/6/16

A few days ago I planned to come to the Rustic Inn Crabhouse, but I hit a roadblock. And I mean that literally. The bridge is being replace; a project that is projected to be completed in SUMMER 2017.

The bad news is that to get over the river it's a long detour, and I didn't really want to go that badly. So I just turned around and ended up getting take out at Mini Pita Cafe.

So today I felt like some flounder; a dish I'd had 7 years ago at this place. This time, I took the back way via route 84. If you plan to come here, consider your navigation system useless. It will just confuse you.

The issue is confused further by the silly fact that "Ravenswood Rd" is also Angler's Ave. If you take 84 east and bear right at the bridge (by the Rodeway Inn), it takes you to the road that will take you here.

Not much going on in this part of town; a mile of parked freight trains.

I thought that the Rustic Inn was on the other side of the bridge, but it's close enough so that the entrance is blocked on this side too. They don't have signs coming from this direction; the signs are on SW 42nd when approaching it from the west. What a pain in the neck.

When I finally found the way in, I was surprised at the number of cars. The detour is enough for me to simply avoid the place for the next year and a half. But there isn't much else around here if you don't want to hang out at Flossie's.

A big NY based restaurant group bought this place a couple of years ago, but it hasn't changed much. The patio furniture has been upgraded.

They have seats everywhere; the "Barge", and a front dining room that they don't open at lunch time.

530 seats, but they don't take reservations. The kind of things that new owners could change if they wanted to.

Lunch happens in the rear dining room and the outdoor deck. I made the mistake of sitting outside last time; it gets windy out there and it's not fun.

The waterfront view is overrated; there's a junk yard or something on the other side. Not too many boats. It's definitely not worth sitting outside.

They have a Crab Info sheet on the table, so you can educate yourself on the different kinds of crabs.

I order an iced tea; no problem getting extra lemon here. Everything has lemon in a crabhouse. I've never seen so many seeds in lemons before.

The specials here are ridiculous. Who is going to pay $15 for fish dip here, or $58 for "surf and turf"? They also have some oyster specials for $4 per.

I already know what I want; I just check the menu to make sure it hasn't changed and order the Flounder. I have a prime seat in front of the kitchen; I have a bit of a cold so I didn't want to be coughing near other people; I asked to be seated away from the crowd.

No Wireless. Really guys? Mega-millionaires buy a remotely located restaurant and they can't upgrade one thing? A restaurant this size needs wireless.

The only thing that the rich new owners have done to improve this place is they put in a new sink, which is essential for washing your hands after eating crabs.

This place used to be known for bibs and crab smashing, but I didn't see anyone with a mallet. Or anyone wearing a big. It's kind of lame without the crab smashing.

The food comes out in about 15 minutes.

A lot of stuff on the plate. Any hope I had of getting a nice fleshy filet of fish was quickly extinguished. A bunch of ineptly breaded pieces. White rice would have been better that this stuff; undercooked potatoes and vegetables. I asked for butter, and my server brought me a thing of drawn butter. Not exactly what I wanted, but it added some flavor.

The beans were inedible. String beans are hard to get right. They're terrible when they're underdone or overdone. I've never been a huge fan of green beans.

The flounder is 'Broiled'; I think they just throw some crumbs and stuff on it and put it under the broiler. It really wan't very good. It's a lot of food for $15,95; I ate enough to fuel myself until dinner time.

While I was waiting for my check, I noticed the paper on the tables outside flopping around from the wind. I made the right move eating inside.

It was a lot easier going home than getting here.

Conclusion

Any hope that the fancy restaurant group that bought this place was going to convert it to an upscale, waterfront restaurant can be dismissed; this place hasn't changed one iota since they bought it. They did open a large sister restaurant in Jupiter; but they must have gotten a good deal on this and it's just a cash cow.

The Flounder I got here today wasn't nearly as good as what I got years ago, and the secondaries weren't very good either. Some of the prices are fair, and some are not.

Review 9/5/14

I hadn't been to the crabhouse since ownership changed last March, so I thought I'd get the Friday Shrimp special and see what's different. About 90 degrees in September; the main dining room is still closed at lunch time.

The choices for seating are the bar, which I don't like here, the main room, or the outdoor patio/deck, where I'd never been before. They don't allow smoking even outside, so I thought I'd give it a try.

No real A/C outside, they have big fans and there was wind blowing the paper on the table. I realized that this was a mistake, but decided to stay anyway. The place is waterfront as a real canal runs by, but it doesn't really feel like waterfront. The view could be worse, I suppose.

My server came out and I ordered Iced Tea, which is included with the daily specials. I looked over the menu and almost changed my mind and ordered the Flounder, but I wanted to see what the special was like. He brought out the tea and I ordered the Special; forgetting to also order 1/2 dozen raw clams.

One thing about sitting outside is that you can't see inside, so flagging down a server is nearly impossible. After 5 minutes or so I went inside and asked a bar back to have my server come out so I could add the clams to my order.

No music outside, just the loud whirring of fans. I positioned the condiments basket so the paper wasn't flying around, and the breeze did cool things off.

The clams came out first.

I asked for an oyster fork; my server nodded and brought me Worcestershire and horseradish. "No, I want an oyster fork". The Crabhouse doesn't have oyster forks. If you serve clams and oysters you should really have oyster forks.

6 clams for $7. Good cocktail sauce. Nicely shucked. A good deal. I was on my second clam when the shrimp came out.

Not an elegant presentation by any standards, $11.95 for 21 shrimp, potatoes, cole slaw and an Iced Tea. This platter has "Peel and Eat", "Key West" and Grilled shrimp. I couldn't really tell you which was the Key West. They were all decent and I dipped them all in the cocktail sauce with extra horseradish so it doesn't really matter.

I got the idea for some drawn butter, but I didn't see my server again until I was done eating.

The cole slaw was junk, but the potatoes not bad; boiled potatoes with butter remind me of how potatoes used to be before the kiddie culture converted everything to french fries.

21 shrimp yield a lot of shells. I could have made some nice fish broth with these.

There is a shiny new stainless steel sink where you can wash your hands on the way out. It's the only change I can see.

It's not clear what the new owners have in mind. They don't have this place listed on their fancy web site, so apparently this place doesn't quite fit their image. Given the quality of their other venues, I suspect that one day they'll tear this place down and put up a big, fancy restaurant, but there's no sign of it yet.

Rustic Inn Crabhouse Sold to NYC Group 3/24/14

The long time owners of Rustic Inn have sold the property to the Ark Restaurant Group for $4.8M. Ark is a NYC real estate conglomerate that operates 20 restaurants throughout the US including Bryant Park Grill and Clyde Frazier's in NYC and Gallagher's Steakhouses and Burger Bars in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Ark locally runs 7 fast food concepts in the Hard Rock Hotel.

The total value of the deal is 7.5M.

Review 9/13/13

Away from the more commercialized "Crab Shacks" is the Rustic Inn, a place that truly lives up to it's name. An old, worn building in between nothing and nothing, not much has changed here in many, many years.

At lunch time, the "main" dining room is closed, leaving you a choice of the "indoor" patio, the covered patio or the bar. The bar is kind of dreary and the downside of the inside patio is that there's a lot of staff milling around. They have an annoying loud speaker system and now matter where you sit, you're in front of some service area.

But, there's no AC outside, and even though the place is "on the water", it's kind of a junky view.

If you don't know about the Rustic Inn, it's one of those places that you smash crabs; there are no crab cracking tools here; smashing is your only option.

There's a large notation on the menu: "Mallets are not souvenirs"; but you can buy one in the gift shop.

Much of the menu here is the dreaded "Market Price"; it would be nice if they had an insert with the current pricing but there isn't much forward thinking going on here. No yellow for iced tea; they don't even have blue.

I've had the NE Clam Chowder and the Conch Chowder here; the soups are to be avoided. I inquired about the Crab Sampler, but it was $39. Seems like a lot. I went for the Lunch Combo instead, which for $15.95 includes a crab cake, slaw, fries, veggies and a sampling of crab.

There's not much waiting here; the food came out quickly.

A pretty big plate. I wonder what you get for more than twice as much; this would be more than enough food.

The crab cake was mushy and was saved only by good tarter sauce. Vegetables are always better when there's drawn butter to dip into. I'm not big on crab if it's not lump or in a cake; picking shells and cartilage out of my mouth to get little bits of meat is not my idea of an enjoyable meal. I just kept thinking of Tom Hanks in CastAway, when after eating nothing but crab for 4 years returns to a celebration where they serve Crab Legs.

If nothing else, eating crab here is an adventure. They don't give you a board where you can smash your crabs, so you're smashing crabs in a salad bowl. Smashing crab is messy business.

There's no wet naps at the Rustic Inn; they have a sink in the dining room where you can wash your hands.

No Splenda, No Bread, No Wet Naps, No Iced Tea refill and no crab crackers. And frankly I didn't taste much difference between the different crabs. But it was kinda fun.

Review 11/26/2011

First, lets get something out of the way. I wouldn't take my Mother here for her birthday, nor would I take a date here. At least not one that I had an interest in seeing again. The Rustic Inn Crabhouse fits its name perfectly; its Rustic; old, gray and dreary. The outside is like an old boatyard, with an unpaved parking lot. Inside the lights are dim, the furniture is old and the bar has pieces missing.

If you didn't already know, the Crabhouse is one of those places where you wear a bib and smash crabs with a mallet. So maybe its a good thing that they don't have good furniture; it would just get ruined by the butter and crab juice all over the place. On weekends you may have trouble getting in as it gets quite crowded. Its pretty cheap; which means that it attracts a crusty crowd from all over. They have an obnoxious loud speaker system where they call out your name when your table is ready.

The place is huge, with a main dining room and a "patio", with a large bar area in the back. The main dining room is closed at lunchtime; you'll have to sit at a table for crab. No crab smashing at the bar. They have a variety of crab types and samplers so you can just order whatever you want. If you come in a group you can try everything and have a smashingly good time making a mess. They have lunch specials listed on their web site that end at 2:30pm.

If you don't feel like crab or you wear clothes that didn't anticipate the smashing, they have plenty of other things on the menu. You can get a hoagie or chicken or even a steak. One standout is the broiled flounder; a massive portion served with rice, potatoes and vegetables. The veggies are junk (mine were cold). They put some sort of bread mixture on it that has mild onions (maybe leeks) and it comes with a very good tartar sauce. Its not great but for $11.50 you'd be hard pressed to get a fillet this big elsewhere. I recommend skipping the lousy new england clam chowder.

The clowns at New Times gave this place an award for the best conch chowder, so I had to give it a try. As usual, it's just mis-information. Everything in the chowder is tiny; little bits of conch, potatoes and carrots, and it's just too salty.

It also had a vinegary taste; maybe too much sherry or something, but I couldn't even eat it. It's so dark in the place that I couldn't get a focus without a flash, so I took it out to get a shot of it. I recommend skipping the soup course in this place altogether.

If you must smash crabs and you're looking to save a bit of money this is about your only choice. Just don't wear anything you might want to wear again. Note that their address says "Ravenswood" but most maps have it as Anglers Rd. It's called Ravenswood for a stretch of the road; the signs on the road have both names on them.

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Len America
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Can't believe this place is still around! I used to hang around and watch the Indians wrestle alligators in pits around the back, for the tourists in the '50's.

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