Thursday, August 4, 2011

A.W. Shucks - Norfolk, VA

A.W. Shucks Exterior
AW Shucks, or Shucks as locals say, is one of the favorite Ghent spots for good, no-fuss food. They are known for their fish and chips, meatloaf, oysters and most of all, the sides. In my pre-vegetarian days, I loved a good Shucks burger, the one with the crab cake on top and the steamed shrimp. Today, I favor the Vegan Chicken Po’ Boy, the salads and of course, the sides. My family and I dined at Shucks one Sunday in June and for the first time, I ordered the vegan po’ boy. I was surprised at how good the vegan chicken was - grilling makes a huge difference. My grandmother ordered her favorite, the Oyster Po’ Boy, Nikki tried the Shrimp Po’ Boy and my aunt went for the Bacon Cheeseburger. We all had fries and ordered hush puppies and the famous Shucks mac n’ cheese as supplemental sides for the table. Gotta have the mac. As Laine and I posted recently in one our Friday Top 5’s, Shucks mac n’ cheese is some of the best out there. Dinner was great and we only passed on dessert because we had a birthday cake from Sugar Plum at home. Our server, a nice young gent, was funny and put up with our dark humor, which was rampant this evening.

Laine and I, along with our good lunch friend, headed over to Shucks one recent Tuesday. Know the vegan chicken was an option, I decided to try the Spinach Salad and add that to it. Seemed like a good idea at the time. While, the salad was hearty and pretty good, with blue cheese, hard boiled egg, tomatoes and fried leeks, the up-charge for the vegan chicken add was $5.95. What? I even left the bacon off the salad. I think $3-4 would have been fair, but almost $6. This is Norfolk and Shucks is good but not a fine dining establishment where you expect to be overcharged for things. I liked my meal, but I’ll be hard pressed to order that again when I can order a half of the Vegan Chicken Po’ Boy for $6.95 and that includes a side. $6.95 versus $13.95 for less food...not really a teeth pulling decision.
A.W. Shucks dish: Spinach Salad

Last weekend, I met my great friends, Sally and Markus, at Shucks before I headed out for the evening. They ordered the cheese and cracker appetizer and were very pleased with it - this is the first I have ever heard of anyone ordering this. Sally said the Surry ham on the platter was excellent. Before I got there, I knew I wanted the Fried Green Tomatoes (FGT). I thought I had had these in the past, but I must have been mistaken. The quality was great, but for $9.95, three small slices of tomato, a little bit of goat cheese and some capers and diced red onions does not cut it. $6 seems much more rational. Luckily, I had also ordered the mac and the tomato and mozzarella sides. Another apparently nonexistent memory was me ordering the tomato and mozzarella. I really thought it was fresh mozzarella and cherry or grape tomatoes. Not the case. Three large, pink, as in bad, tomato slices that were hard as a rock and tasteless. I try not to do this often, but I had to send them back. The green tomatoes were small and tasty, the other tomatoes were huge and flavorless, go figure. Our server was very accommodating and brought me the green beans instead - those I knew would be good. Two mistaken memories equals two less than stellar choices. Maybe I was out in the sun too long that day.

Sally ordered the Scallop Platter and chose green beans and mac as her sides. She was very happy with her meal, as was Markus, who had the jambalaya, a side of mac and a pint of O’Connor’s brewski. Note, it’s all about the mac and it is common for everyone at a table to order it. No sharing here. On the flip side, we split the hush puppies, which, while these are listed as a side, they are more like an appetizer in size with a wonderful honey butter.

Onto the finale, dessert. Shucks has great selections and are typically around $5. They seem to always have a homemade bread pudding, cheesecake and another one or two treats. A time or two before I tried the Krispy Kreme bread pudding - yes, it exists and yes, is more fantastic than you can imagine - and the ‘everything’ cheesecake which has brownie, nuts, cookie dough and who knows what else. Also delicious. When I dined with Sally and Markus, the bread pudding du jour was of the white chocolate variety. This is one of Shucks’ standard flavors and is great every time I order it. My only complaint is the last two times, I had to ask the server to reheat the bread pudding. Either they are not nuking it enough or it is sitting in the kitchen after it is heated because I’m almost positive they are throwing it in the microwave before serving. While it is homemade, this is not ‘fresh out of the oven’. Even I, a constant microwave user, know the oven/stove always does a better job with reheating. It is just not the same.

Service at Shucks is always great and the atmosphere is fun and relaxed. I look forward to going again soon, but no vegan chicken add-on and I will skip the over-priced FGT. Too bad, FGT’s are one of my favorite things.

A.W. Shucks interior
I had not been in Shucks for a couple of years, the last time we reviewed it actually. Shucks has a laid back atmosphere with a hint of bar thrown in, which suits me just fine most days. Our buddy *Brianna loves Shucks,so when we threw it in the ring as a lunch option, she jumped. Shuck’s could probably win the “Best Hidden Restaurant in Norfolk” award. If you don’t know where it is, or are not with someone who does, I doubt you would find it. There were a few people ahead of us in line when we arrived, and tables were full. We were presented with the option of waiting 10 minutes or eating outside. Are you kidding me? It’s 100 degrees out there! Their patio was completely empty. We waited, and sure enough, we were seated inside in 10. Nice!

I am a real sucker for chef’s specials and their crab and shrimp wrap caught my eye. I know Alex is always going on about Mac n Cheese, fries and similar high calorie / carb sides, but I try to limit my intake on these. Instead, I selected a garden salad. Most times garden salads are such a terrible letdown. You look at it and you know someone opened a bag of prepared lettuce, threw on two cucumber slices, two grape tomatoes and called it done. Their salad isn’t too far removed from this scenario, with the exception of some pretty tasty croutons. I don’t like croutons usually, but I enjoyed these. *Brianna ordered the Shrimp Po’ Boy.

A.W. Shucks dish: Garden Salad

A.W. Shucks dish: Crab and Shrimp Wrap

A.W. Shucks dish: Shrimp Po' Boy

Our orders came out quickly. My wrap was very tasty. There was a good quantity of crab meat, and a light touch on the sauce. The shrimp were a bit disappointing. I was expecting some nice sized chunks from large shrimp. Instead I encountered tiny little shrimp, the size of your thumbnail. What a waste to pair real blue crab with those sorry little shrimp. A Po’ Boy at Shucks is a sight to behold. They are enormous, covering the entire plate. Holding one as you might a “regular” sandwich is a challenge. Biting into it,impossible. But they are delicious, and you will never be disappointed if you order one.

Checks came and went expeditiously, and a good time was had by all. Yes, even Alex and her $6 vegan chicken had a good time.

A.W. Shucks
2200 Colonial Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23517-1915
(757) 664-9117
Open Daily 11am-1:30am
A.W. Shucks Raw Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I ate there recently for my all time favorite, the bread pudding and it was microwaved and still cold in the middle! Very disappointing from to amzing-ness of bread pudding I was used to!!

Laine and Alex said...

I had the same thing happen on two occasions and had to ask to have it reheated. It definitely takes away from the quality of the dessert. I can reheat at home. Shucks does have great bread pudding, especially their Krispy Kreme variety, and they should serve it as it deserves to be served...HOT and delicious. I'm not sure what is happening but next time I go, I will try a preemptive tactic and mention it this. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks for commenting!