Queen of Cuisine: Smack in the Kisser

8E8C4632BY CARLA WALDEMAR

Smack Shack
603 Washington Avenue N
612-259-7288
www.smack-shack.com

True confession: I have a weakness for an illicit pleasure, satisfied by secret visits to a porn shop on Washington Avenue.
No, no—not those! I’m talking food porn. And the dietary item that sends me into delirium is … lobster. Yup, lobster, the darling of expense-account diners and trust-fund heirs, who never need worry when the menu’s fine print discreetly notes “market price” (a code name for “max out your credit card”). I’m, by some genetic error, in neither of those categories. And that’s why I love Smack Shack—the food truck operation-turned-brick-and-mortar on North Washington. I can actually afford to indulge here.
Sure, from that tank at the entrance—where the lobster equivalent of lap dancers lurk—you can pluck a whole critter and enjoy it for $32 a pound (which, at Oceanaire or such would maybe buy you a paltry claw). And if you do opt for that famed lobster boil, you’ll also get Polish sausage, red potatoes, corn on the cob, coleslaw and griddled bread. Just sayin’.
But there are other renditions involving that ultra-rich, sweet and irresistible flesh on the menu, so stay with me.
This is, after all, not a fancy-schmancy establishment. It’s a converted warehouse sporting industrial ceiling, garage doors and cement floor, with dishtowels as napkins and red-checkered tablecloths. Elbows on those tablecloths are mandatory, and a Southern accent doesn’t hurt, either.
Belly up to the lobster rolls that launched the whole operation with the truck, and still served as the 1029 Bar on paper plates. Choose them warm—or cold, as the Good Lord meant them to be: a mostly-lobster salad mix brightened with tarragon and crunchy chopped cukes on a bun warmed on the griddle. Or lobster corn dogs, a divine improvement on that State Fair staple featuring gently battered claw meat in the company of a lemon-chive aioli, or go for the lobster guac (but notify your doctor first). The lobster mac and cheese (yes, it’s as good as it sounds, as customers at the 1029 have long testified, and these are folks with whom you don’t want to argue). Then there’s the lobster bisque (untasted, but not for long, as is the lobster Lucy, improving on that divine burger with lobster chunks bound by melty taleggio cheese as the stuffing), and the seafood dinner in a bowl, cioppino.
10389179_820392761348582_7381262808876354044_nDon’t bother trying to resist the po’ boys, either, another graduate of the truck and bar. Choose from half a dozen fillings, but ignore the spicy shrimp one, or the andouille sausage version, and suffer buyer’s remorse.
In case there’s a soul on the planet who doesn’t like lobster, let me assure that individual that the Southern fried chicken is a-mazing, with crisp, fresh-from-the-fryer batter jacketing its deeply flavorful, oh-so-juicy meat. It’s served with waffles—a combo borrowed from well below the Mason-Dixon line—and maple syrup ($15). Or summon the shrimp and grits (andouille crashes that party on the plate, and that’s just fine) or blackened catfish. Loved the wings with bacon-blue cheese dressing, too. Or, heck, just order more lobster.
The only disappointment, ordered on my first visit (and not subsequently, so if there’s been a tweaking I’m unaware) is the Boston clam chowder. It was long on potatoes and sweet, stodgy base but miserly on the actual clams themselves. On that visit, I learned that the kitchen’s Bourbon bread pudding takes no prisoners. This version is the real deal, heavy with nuts and raisins and, more to the point, a fair dose of Kentucky Bourbon. Yum. Wines BTG and beer at fair prices, too.

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