Wednesday, March 4, 2009
A "Fishy" Review: A.W. Shucks Raw Bar & Grill
A.W. Shucks is a hidden spot in Norfolk's Ghent area. Shucks and its sister restaurant, Tortilla West, both service large portions at a reasonable price. Laine and I have been to Shucks previously, but it was in the pre-blog era. I have been a number of times for lunch, brunch and dinner. Typically, I am a big promoter of Shucks and I'm sure I will be again the next time I go, but today's meal was not my favorite. Let me state that I think I have made a profession out of being late. I try and try, but alas, I am 10-15 minutes late 99.9 percent of the time.
Today was like any other day, I was late, which meant I rushed in and ordered the first thing that popped in my head, the Nicoise Salad, one of my usual selections at Shucks. Their Nicoise has seared tuna, hard-boiled egg, Greek olives (pitted, thankfully), green beans, tomato and cucumber. I am a compartmentalized eater, so even in a salad, I tend to eat one thing at a time, moving from vegetable to vegetable and then to the protein. The 'salad' part was fine, but I swear the tuna was fishy. I asked Laine to try it and she said it was good, but I am still thinking of it and not in a positive light. They do season the tuna, but I have had this entree numerous times and have liked it. I should have gone with a burger and will the next time I go to Shucks.
The burgers and po' boys (oyster, shrimp, chicken, fresh fish or Texas Tofu – sounds like pretty much anything you would want in it) there are great and the fries and hushpuppies are phenomenal. Laine brought up their mac 'n cheese. We did not order it, but I have in the past and it is very creamy and definitely homemade. You can definitely make a meal out of the sides. Along with fries, hush puppies and the
mac 'n cheese, Shucks offers garlic green beans (some of the best I have had), broccoli and tomato and mozzarella). Shucks' menu also has a variety of sandwiches (the crab cake sandwich is a very popular item), salads (a Greek and Cobb are available, in addition to the Nicoise), steamed shrimp, chili, fresh seafood and a variety of appetizers. I must also mention the large selection of fresh oysters
Shucks offers and there are always delicious specials that include at least one pasta dish.
Brunch on Sunday is my favorite meal at Shucks. Their frittata is killer, but they also have crab/egg Benedict, an omelet, shrimp and grits and a few other items. Shucks serves brunch until 3 or 4pm (depends on the Sunday), which is later than most brunch places. While I will not judge Shucks by my meal today, I will steer away from the Nicoise. For a full selection of their menu go on Sunday since
they serve the regular menu along with the brunch menu. There is a full bar as well and you usually see someone you know if you are from the area.
I have to admit that the line about the tuna tasting fishy made me giggle, but that’s what friends are for, right? It tasted fine to me, but I am a big sushi eater too (Alex is NOT) so I can see where she may tread a bit lightly where I would boldly go. My meal was great. I have completely fallen off the diet wagon and ordered an oyster po’ boy with fries. Hello fat! Hello cholesterol! It’s your old friend Laine! It was seriously, decadently, delicious. Essentially, it is oysters on bread topped with cole slaw, some lettuce and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper. They pair it with an interesting white sauce on the side, which is their answer to the usual tartar sauce most restaurants offer. The darn thing was fairly large, and I had to eat it with a fork as I could not get it to function as a sandwich without making a complete mess. Their French fries really aren’t French either, but a more Americanized battered potato fry. Yummy.
The service was brisk and the place was full by the time we left at about 1pm. Having been in a few empty restaurants lately, I think their ability to maintain a steady flow of customers during these economically challenging times speaks to the quality of their food as well as our review. For those of us not overly familiar with all the ins and outs of Ghent, this restaurant is not very easy to find. It is back in the corner of a parking lot off Colonial and 21st streets. You cannot see it from any street. Activate your GPS when heading there if you have never been before or get good directions.
Recently A.W. Shucks won the Pilot’s taste award for best Mac and Cheese. I haven’t had it personally, but think the “award” is noteworthy. Click here to read that article.
Shucks is open 11am-1:30am daily (they serve the same menu for lunch and menu and actually serve until 1:30am) and has Sunday brunch from 11am-until they decide it is no longer brunch. They do not have a website, but you can view the menu here or swing by the restaurant, located at 2200 Colonial Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23517
If you are in the West Ghent area, visit Shucks’ sister restaurant, Tortilla West, which offers southwestern style entrees and many, many,many kinds of tequila. Again, no website, but you can view the menu here. T Dub, as locals know it, is open Monday-Saturday 4pm-2am and serves the full menu until 1:30am. Sundays, they open at 11am and have a great brunch, like Shucks. T Dub is located at 508 Orapax Street, Norfolk, VA 23507