Like many, this evening began at the bar. As I sat there awaiting my companion, I ordered a Blue Point Toasted Lager. Now, I've been quite disappointed lately with the temp at which bars serve their draughts, but this tasty lager turned out to be glacially cold. This immediately made me much more receptive to the imminent meal, both in the fact that they care about how they serve their beer and, of course, that I was finishing my third by the time my companion arrived.
Also at the bar were thickly cut salt & vinegar potato chips, a perfect accompaniment for a frigid brew and an additional point in the Shack's favor. If nothing else, go for cold beers and chips before heading somewhere else for dinner.
The Shack was full but not loaded to the gills (intended). When we were seated, they brought us a garlic bread loaf that was hot, light, fluffy, topped with cheese and had buttery garlic infused on its inside, also very nice with the icy Toasted Lagers.
We started with a simply presented Caesar Salad (uncut romaine hearts, parm shavings, small croutons and dressing on the side), which they divided in two for us without being asked, and a dozen Oysters, which were not the greatest; unlike the beer, I felt they could have been colder, or maybe just firmer (each night, the shack serves three east coasts and three west coasts).
The choice of main courses included whole lobsters, lobster rolls, fish&chips, shrimp&chips, fishshrimp&chips, etc., etc. We opted for unadulterated fish, where you select a fish from a list of about six and an accompanying sauce from a list of three. Our choices were striped bass with lemon hollandaise sauce and "organic" salmon with spicy salsa. The salsa was 70% finely diced avocado, the rest onions and tomatoes-a very nice balance. As with the Caesar dressing, our sauces were served on the side, as are probably all Shack sauces, an arrangement we preferred. Both fish were perfectly cooked and delicious.
(Parenthetically, when applied to fish, does "organic" mean that the fish is wild, that the fish is fed only organic little fish that have only eaten organic seaweed all their lives or that the fish farm is in a body of water that receives its run-off from an organic farm?--sounded bullshitty but the lagers had taken hold, and I forgot to ask)
Accompanying our fish were three excellent sides: roasted potatoes and slaw (topped with more parm shavings), and corn on the cob, lightly kissed with some sort of pesto butter. We ordered the corn separately.
Dessert disappointed. We were saddened not to see a lighter fruit-based dessert (i.e. a cobbler, crisp or betty) that traditionally seems to round off fish shack feasts and that would have capped off the meal perfectly. In a fit of glutton's remorse, we judged ourselves too full to take down the tempting but extremely rich-sounding Blueberry Bread Pudding, but then somehow flip-flopped aggressively and ordered the "special" AND a piece of lemon meringue pie. Clearly, the much lighter choice.
The "special", a cookie sundae, seemed like it was made from a pair of stiff City Bakery (conveniently located a block away) chocolate cookies from a previous week's baking. It had one sorry scoop of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two cookies and a puny dollop of whipped cream. The only special thing about it was how difficult it was to cut those rock-hard cookies with a spoon. The lemon meringue pie offered little solace other than a decent crust.
We will nevertheless return soon.