Pensacola’s Crab Trap has gotten a total makeover — even a brand new name: Nick’s Boathouse. Located at 455 W Main St., the restaurant has a totally new atmosphere, new entertainment and a completely different menu. It’s open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and it stays open an extra hour on Friday and Saturday.
General Manager Brian Bishop said the changes were necessary and that for the most part, customers have been receptive to the new direction of the restaurant.
“We have some Crab Trap regulars who’ve been very skeptical when they come in and see how the place has changed,” said Bishop. “But then they try the food and taste the quality, and they love it. We have a great chef in the kitchen who’s creating great things.”
Crab Trap was known as an ideal place for tourists to stop in to have a taste of what the “beach city” had to offer. Bishop said they wanted to move away from that image and try something more upscale, but still affordable, with a family atmosphere.
“We have all types of drink specials on certain nights,” Bishop said. “We’re thinking about maybe adding a college night so that we can increase that crowd, as well.”
The decor is very cozy, dimly lit with sounds of light pop music filling up the dining area. The aquarium and beach art give the place a relaxing feel. The outside patio had a calm vibe with live music. University of West Florida alumni John Wheeler provided acoustic guitar melodies while patrons dined by the water.
“We needed a new start. The music scene around here will be a little more upbeat. Even the new name signifies a new start for us,” Bishop said.
My view of the food was a bit different, however. My waiter was absolutely wonderful. He was familiar with the menu and offered what he thought were great suggestions for dinner. The presentation of the food was great. It reminded me of what I see on “Martha Stewart” or “Rachael Ray.” Unfortunately, the rest of my experience didn’t follow suit.
The prices were not college-budget friendly.The most affordable items on the menu are sandwiches, and even those average about $13, with full entrees starting at around $20.
Aside from options such as grouper, mahi mahi, and seafood macaroni and cheese, there were quite a few items that included red meat. I was surprised because I would never pair the two, and because so many establishments are steering away from it and opting for healthier choices.
I ordered the tilapia sandwich with fries and cole slaw, and my fiance ordered the blackened mahi mahi with Spanish rice, and white cheddar- cheese grits. The sandwich was okay but not great, and the fries were soggy (which was okay to me because I love soggy fries, but I don’t know anyone else who does). The cole slaw was literally the worst I’ve ever had. Luckily I was able to replace it with more soggy fries.
The mahi mahi and Spanish rice were average. The fish was so spicy he had to take sips of water between bites. The best part of the meal was the cheddar-cheese grits.
The total bill came to about $40 — too much for me not to be pleased. I’ve always felt like when it comes to food, you get what you pay for. But in this case, I paid for a well- dressed “what I thought I was going to get.”