Fabian DeSoto, The Paisano
If it looks like snot, don’t eat it: it’s a common misconception about oysters based on their briny appearance and slimy insides. But those that have faced the challenge of trying this by-the-sea dive know the reward is only a shuck and shoot away.
Shuck Shack (520 E Grayson St), San Antonio’s newest oyster and seafood house, is a beach house away from home, offering some of the freshest oysters and eateries in South Texas.
Established by Jason Dady, one of San Antonio’s pioneer chefs and owner of fine-dining establishments including Tre Trattoria and Tre Enoteca, the restaurant provides a taste of the coast from a landlocked position, for the right price.
A small white building only a few blocks away from The Pearl, the Shuck Shack is lightly decorated with wooden picnic tables, a playground for kids and strung-up lights that remind one of the laziness and carefree atmosphere of laying by the tide, minus the water.
The inside is much the same — wooden tables that accent the open kitchen and the ice bar, where the very raw oysters the Shack is known for are preserved.
The wait staff wastes no time helping customers get seated, or making recommendations, assuring any doubts you have about the menu.
“No, our oysters don’t make you throw up.”
“Horse radish can add an extra kick of flavor to any seafood.”
“Horse radish is not made out of horses.”
A recommendation from the waiter implied that the Piña Colada and the “Limonade” cocktails were both best for newcomers, which come out quickly and cold like an oasis in the desert of our mouths.
The Piña Colada, served with Bacardi Rum, coconut milk and pineapple juice, tasted as tropical as the name implies, creamy but never sacrificing the layers of cool ice that hid under the milky exterior.
The “Limonade” was served with Deep Eddy Lemonade, Topo Chico mineral water and a lime paleta — or popsicle, for the uninitiated — dipped into the center of the cool refreshment. At over $10 for each drink, it’s a bit more expensive than a cheap beer, but the taste buds outweighed the wallet on this decision.
The main menu, a piece of paper that patrons are free to mark upon to request any salad, dessert or oyster, keeps things easy and personal between waiters and their guests. With another recommendation, orders were marked down and the Shrimp Roll and “Oystah’ Chowdah’” were on their way to visit these visitors’ stomachs.
The foods had an individualist streak provided by Dady that can’t be found anywhere else in San Antonio. At $16, the Half Shrimp Roll, served in a sea of fries with a hot dog bun acting as a boat for the decadently grilled shrimp, tasted every bit as good as its price point let on.
At $12, the “Oystah’ Chowdah’” contained a warm, white and creamy chowder soup washed over individual salty cloysters, creating a feeling of being at the sea.
Although the visit was cut short by the pleading of a full stomach, ice cream desserts like local paletas and Klondike bars are offered for those that aren’t satisfied with their meal.
Although for the family, wallet shortages should be advised before heading out for a visit. A meal for two can rack up well over $50, making this more of an occasional house on the sea rather than a home away from home.
The customer is always right, of course, and when the seafood is this good, the taste buds drown the pocketbook.