There was a time not too terribly long ago in Oklahoma City when there was a chain on every corner and the closest you could get to local was to make a trip to your farmers market and make the food yourself. We always celebrate all things local, and luckily, it’s getting easier for OKC restaurants to incorporate locally grown, all- natural ingredients into what they offer.
— By Devon Green
photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
Football season is finally here! We call it soccer, but that doesn’t have to stop you from indulging in two favorite European traditions: walking and pub crawling. Since the Energy FC games will be alcohol-free, we’ve created a list of pubs and taverns within walking distance from Clement E. Pribil Stadium at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School.
— by Devon Green
photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
While the idea of fried dough may or may not be American in origin, the traditional ring-shaped confection that we know and love does originate here. According to The Smithsonian, doughnuts were created by an enterprising New England sailor’s mother who wanted a way to store and transport pastry. Regardless of its origin, the doughnut is a modern favorite.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
The Shack Seafood & Oyster Bar
303 N.W. 62nd
What works: It’s flavorful food without overwhelming heat. The seafood court-bouillon is wonderful.
What needs work: Uh ... it gets a little noisy? Honestly, that’s about it.
Tips: It’s kind of hidden behind a bank. And parking can be tricky.
From the outside, there’s probably no name more apt for The Shack Seafood & Oyster Bar than the one it has.
But once inside, you’d be forgiven for wondering if this was some kind of national chain you’d just never heard of before. Because The Shack is polished. Not in a marble column, maitre d’ in a tuxedo sort of way. But there’s a continuity, a thoughtfulness — the kind that usually comes after a restaurant has gone from a hometown hit to a nationwide phenom.
It’s just a Cajun seafood restaurant that is turning out some pretty great food in a building that looks like a slight breeze might take it down.
(OK, I’ll leave the building alone. It’s fine. Really. Don’t even worry about it.)
If the weather’s right, sit on the patio. If you’d like some good air conditioning, it stays nice and cool inside, which is probably vital since the food can get spicy.
Oysters are not everybody’s cup of tea. But you ought to try one sometime. With a little butter or some horseradish or maybe some cocktail sauce, you might find a new favorite thing. If you’re worried about raw shellfish, you could get the Oysters Brent (6 for $13.99/12 for $21.99), which tops fresh oysters with shrimp, crab meat, white wine, butter and Parmesan cheese before grilling the whole mess. It’s rich, tender and a lot of flavor.
If you’re a bit more staid, the red beans and rice ($3.99 for a cup / $5.99 for a bowl) is plenty filling and has flavor without the overwhelming heat. We ordered the added andouille sausage ($2.99), although it never came, so I can’t tell you if it’s worth it.What is worth your time is the seafood court-bouillon ($18.99 for dinner/$13.99 at lunch), which is a magical concoction I’d never had the pleasure of eating before. It was dark and thin like a gumbo, with plenty of spice and heat, but it was filled with catfish, scallops, shrimp and crawfish. Spoon it over rice to soak up that reddish-brown broth. I think this is my new go-to order.
I liked the crawfish half and half ($14.99 for dinner/$10.99 at lunch), which is a portion of crawfish étouffée paired with fried crawfish tails, although if I had it to do again, I’d have just gotten étouffée. That flavorful, creamy, buttery gravy full of stewed crawfish is a rich delight. Ask for hot sauce if you want more burn — this one was mild, but flavorful.
If you want fried seafood, The Shack can handle your request. Want to try a little bit of everything? The fried seafood platter ($19.99) is enough to feed a family ... for a few weeks. It’s big, son. A combo of a fried stuffed shrimp, fried oysters, fried crab cake, fried shrimp, fried catfish filets and a fried frog leg.
That said, other than the frog leg (which tastes like chicken, and a little like frog!) and the catfish filets, all the fried stuff starts to kinda blend together. I think you’re better off finding one thing you like and going for that.
One thing I like that I did not imagine I’d like so much is the chicken-fried steak ($11.99 for dinner/$9.99 at lunch). I’m not sure what’s in that gravy. Clarified butter?
Heavy cream? The healing tears of the mythical phoenix? Maybe the gravy includes all of them. But probably the cream. Look, it’s a tender steak done really well in a place that has no business being good at anything but fish.
Speaking of fish, if you’d really like to enjoy it, you ought to get something blackened. Myself, I like the redfish (market price), which is firm and flaky and a perfect canvas for that amazing blackened spice. It is, however, a bit pricey. You might be just as happy with the blackened flounder ($21.99).
For a landlocked state, Oklahoma sure does have some good seafood options, and The Shack is a standout for local Cajun fare.
The service is great. The food is on point. I’m excited to go again, because I don’t think I’m done finding new favorites on that menu.