When my friend Patty Welch called me about Shucks Seafood Grill on South Tamiami Trail (next to Leather Express), I didn’t think much at first. It’s located in the former Shells location (let’s just say I have eaten at a Shells once 16 years ago and that was enough), and I just had a bad image. For a few minutes the location turned into Sting Rays, but they were a fleeting spot. Thus enter Chef Kevin and Robin, longtime restaurateurs from Ohio. Story goes the cold got to them, and like all of us Northern transplants, they wanted warmth and had a yearning to open a seafood restaurant. Glad they did.
Shucks is that totally unpretentious local seafood joint that offers great New England clam chowder, warm “Grandma’s recipe” corn muffins with honey butter and darn good clams casino. The ahi tuna appetizer was flavorful, but a little overcooked. Scallops are not to be missed, either grilled or in the spicy Diabolical seafood pasta with shrimp and calamari. As a former Boston chef, I know great scallops, and Shucks does, too. Large, tender and sweet, these babies were each cooked perfectly.
There are the usual fried fish and fried shrimp baskets, but order the coconut shrimp appetizer with two dipping sauces. Sweet and succulent and again cooked just enough to add crispness at bite, but moist tender shrimp inside. A house specialty, grouper scampi, was delicious, with a generous portion of the tender white fish adorned with sautéed shrimp, capers and garlic butter. Pistachio crusted cedar plank salmon is another keeper.
The wine list is pretty nice for a small local stop, and Shucks offers a full bar. Desserts are just yummy. The homemade rice pudding and pecan pie are worth every extra calorie that you consume. Service was delightful and informative on menu descriptions. If I had one complaint I would say the vegetable medley and rice on each plate were uninspiring, but stay tuned; these seasoned restaurant folks know what they are doing, and changing over to homemade coleslaw and sautéed French green beans or corn on the cob in season will certainly match the quality of what they are doing.
Shucks--what took me so long to try it?
Open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week.