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Shackin’ up


Seafood court-bouillon
BY: Shannon Cornman

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.

BY: Shannon Cornman

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.

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