Tag Archives: seafood

I have a new love. And it’s Shell Oyster Bar

I knew I would love this place.  I really did.  It had all the right possible ingredients I tend to like.  No.frills.local.oyster.bar.seafood.joint.  And boy, did I love it!

I’ve tried to go before.  It just has crazy hours (to this girl at least.  I have never lived in a city where places can actually afford to stay open only during lunch!!!).  Oh, and before I forget, it’s cash only!

As part of some restaurant homework that I *have* to do (more on that another time), I finally made it there during normal hours.  I was running between meetings across town, and I happened to catch Abe also running across town at a time where we both could grab lunch.  Shell is behind a Subway off of South Monroe (114 East Oakland Avenue), in a random back alley parking lot attached to a mechanic in a former gas station.  Don’t question it.  Just make a parking spot for yourself and get in there.

One part of the outside (don’t go in there, like I tried to)

And now I’m actually reading the hours on the handy menu they gave me when they heard it was my first time there.  And in fact it is not as restricted as I thought!  M-Tr: 11-6; Friday: 11-7; Saturday: 11-6.  So, there you go.  Lots of great seafood eating time!

The other half of the outside (the part you are supposed to go in)

Practically every person who walked into the restaurant was greeted by name, and everyone else was quickly hello-ed.  In general, this place dishes up incredible good ol’ southern charm service (see what I did there?).  The guys serving us genuinely wanted to make sure we were comfortable and had what we needed.

It’s me! At the bar

We sat at the bar, but there were tables to sit at as well.  I was immediately served up a dozen raw oysters on a tray with homemade cocktail sauce and the other normal items  to help one eat delicious, delicious oysters.  Oysters are just starting to come back into season (ish), so they are small right now across town.  But these ones were tasty and fresh :).  I’m used to getting Apalachicola oysters around these parts, but we were told these were from Spring Creek.  Abe swears that the oysters tasted less salty than ones we have had before.  Maybe it’s the location they came from.  Maybe it’s in his head.

Moving on, the cocktail sauce was a little more on the BBQ sauce side of flavour, rather than a ketchup flavour, with only very mild horseradish.  If you like the nasal kick, you will want to get extra horseradish.

I bet you thought I was kidding about the tray bit

We also ordered some steamed Cajun spiced shrimp. They were very fresh tasting, and the seasoning a touch spicy and finger licking tasty.

Shrimp-tastic

Finally, we got a lunch basket with fried oysters (my bad, I meant to say scallops, but I got confused while eating oysters and ordering at the same time).  The lunch basket came with the half and half tea I was drinking (score!), hush puppies, fries and coleslaw.  As a note, there were lots of other side options other than what we got, like beans, or cheesy grits, or macaroni salad, or you get the point.

Fried goodness

Now, I’m normally a pretty healthy, non-fried food eater, and I usually like my seafood not fried.  But I will always go to Shell’s if I have that hankering.  Because they did fried good y’all (did I use that right?).  The batter on the oysters was crispy, thin and flavourful.  Not oil soggy at all.  They must heat their oil nice and hot and keep it clean.  Or they have some other trick.  Because, damn.  The fries, certainly a frozen variety, also tasted awesome because of the same great oil treatment!  And the coleslaw was creamy, but not too mayo-ey (says Abe, that doesn’t exist to me, the lover of mayo), and of the type I always remember from my childhood of family treat nights of KFC.  The hush puppies were probably the most disappointing thing, they were okay and just typical.  No fun added flavours inside.

Overall, check it out folks!  It’s worth a drive for lunch, I think it’s the best seafood in town.  I want more now.  And the service was so friendly and welcoming, that doubly makes me want more now!  Just as a note, this was not a cheap *lunch*, but it was well priced seafood.  And we got a lot of seafood, and frankly seafood isn’t cheap anywhere.  But this will be fresh seafood, well worth the lunch treat!  I’ve had more expensive, and much worse.  Okay, I really want more now.

Shell Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

And then there was the oddest restaurant experience ever…

This is going to be an odd restaurant review.  Because we didn’t eat any food! But I’ll get to that…

We are real restaurant geeks, so had been excited for the opening of Backwoods Bistro in Tallahassee.  Almost two weeks after it opened (I mention that because it’s important for context) we headed there on Friday night with some friends.  Abe and I arrived at 8pm and had a drink at the bar waiting for our friends to get there at 8:30, which worked out because there was a 30 minute wait for a table.  When we initially got there, it was busy for sure, but we were some of the last people to come in so it thinned out during our drink.

We sat at the bar and had a cider and beer on draft.  The selection was varied and heavily microbrew oriented, which I liked.   The prices were good for the drinks as well.  The bartender looked a little shell shocked although he wasn’t busy at the time we were there.  He wasn’t as responsive as I am used to from bartenders, but was very knowledgeable.

Draft line up

There is a stage at one end of the bar, and the staff were getting lots of bottle beer on ice, so there must be a bit of a late night crowd that comes in with live music.

Stage

At about 8:35 the hostess came and got us and brought us to a nice booth in the main seating area.  The rest of the restaurant is not much to look at, but I was happy with the booth seating.

Looking out from the booth

The bartender ran our credit card and made it seem like it would be no big deal to transfer our drinks to the table.  We told our server we had drinks at the bar and she said it would be easy to transfer.  We ordered new drinks and things started to get weird.  The hostess came by with scraps of paper in her hand and wondering what we had to drink at the bar because we hadn’t paid.   We told her our server said she had transferred it, and the hostess asked who our server was (if anyone in the restaurant should know that, it should be her).  She walked away confused and came back a few minutes later again asking us what our drinks had been because they had not been transferred and she didn’t know who our server was.  She wandered off after we insisted again the server had the drinks.

Anyways, our server came by and brought 3 of the 4 drinks we had ordered.  The 4th never did make it.  We ordered an appetizer (it was about 8:45 at this time) and she said there was a bit of a kitchen hold up.  We had a pregnant lady with us and it was getting late, so we hurried up to make our main course decisions so we could get it in.  Then the server came back and said it would take over an hour for our food.  We should have left then.  But we were seated and just kept going.

I was having difficulties picking anything from the menu.  I had been under the impression that it was a seafood restaurant, but there were large sections on the menu for sandwiches, pizza and pasta?  In fact, there was not a huge amount of seafood, and not many “local” options.  Things like tuna instead.  In general, nothing was that appealing to me, the menu was a little confused and seemed more roadhouse-ish with lots of melted cheese on things.  I saw some plates go out to tables, and they were heaping with food so if you are a big eater you will get your fill.

Turns out I didn’t have to make a decision.  The server came by at about 9 and announced “the kitchen has told me they are not making any more food tonight”.   Cue my shocked face.  We were told we would not be getting our appetizer.  We could not order our mains.  No.more.food.  So we said we better leave and she replied that would be a good idea.

It was like the kitchen just said “enough”.  The place is new, but had gone through a full weekend of service before we got there, so should have been getting the flow of things when we were there.  We were in the restaurant for an hour, and it was busy but nothing insane.  Maybe the kitchen was in the weeds a little, but to just stop?  With open chits?!  I worked in restaurants for about 5 years and never saw that happen.  Maybe we smelled funny?

Another odd thing was no manager came by.  I could see him, but he sent the server over instead.  And she wasn’t that apologetic.  She did quickly comp our full drinks, and Abe and I paid for the ones we had drank before (she tried to comp those too though).

We left and had amazing sushi.  At a busier restaurant than Backwoods.  In the end, it was better than waiting another hour for our food, and food I didn’t really want.  I will not go back there to try it out again, and honestly there are so many great restaurants in Tally I would really recommend you don’t go either.

 

Backwoods Bistro on Urbanspoon