We’ve been eating at the Seafood Shack for years now. Originally opened in 1971, it’s served several generations of Florida residents and visitors in a water-side setting that’s hard to beat. The Shack is part of the Cortez marina, which has been home to area boats for more than 30 years.
We revisited the Seafood Shack recently and immediately noticed the changes in the restaurant’s décor and menu. In October of 2014 the Shack and marine were sold to the U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian based, multifamily housing developer, Vandyk Communities.
Our wait staffer told us that a new chef had been hired in February, 2015 and that was readily apparent, too. The traditional plastic-encased menu has been replaced with an oversized two-sided print menu, and the food choices and prices are changed, as well.
This is the kind of old Florida place that people come to drink beer, sit outside on the dock’s tables or along the glassed in restaurant and order fried shrimp, hush puppies, and other fresh seafood in a casual setting. Unfortunately, the reworked menu offers less food at higher prices and, even worse, the food we had was not good.
The Seafood Shack’s new chef was quoted in the local newspaper as “seeing an opportunity to put my own spin on it” and he has certainly done that.
The usual large basket of hush puppies has been reduced to a small square mesh basket full, over-crispy on the outside but mushy on the inside and, oddly enough, salted with what looks like sea salt all down in the basket.
The fried shrimp tastes totally different, with a lighter breading that is largely tasteless, and the full dinner comes with only 7 shrimp (along with two sides and no hush puppies at all for $18).
The biggest disappointment for me is the baked apple dish. It had so much lemon added that the dish was extremely tart and not edible – both of us tried and could not get it down.
The “potato hash” was not hash at all – it was cut-up potato with what tasted like a sweet and sour sauce on top. It was supposed to taste like caramelized onion and applewood smoked bacon. The potato pieces are too large to be considered a hash.
For us the chef has gone overboard in trying to spice up Seafood Shack’s longstanding dishes with odd flavors. While we’ve eaten at this restaurant many times over the decades we doubt we’ll go back again.
- Fabulous setting right on the water
- Updated outdoor seating which is much more comfortable than the old seating outside
- Increased pricing and smaller portions
- Odd flavor profiles (sea salt doesn’t belong on hush puppies, for sure)
- Indifferent wait staff – it was obvious we did not finish our food (the baked apples) but the waiter did not ask if there was a problem and in fact never asked if we liked the food
- “Fake” specials on the board – when we asked about them the wait staff admitted they wrote 3 things from the menu on the board every night, but the “real” specials were on a board in the server’s break room
- It was supposed to be happy hour when we were there but we were never told about that or asked if we wanted something from the bar.
I’m sad to say that the new Seafood Shack menu is a fail. We should have known, though – usually you can’t get in to that restaurant on any evening. The parking lot was almost empty and so was the restaurant. For a waterside restaurant that’s been in existence since the early ’70s that’s the kiss of death.
Our recommendation? Ditch the odd flavors and bring back a little more value. We’d like to see the Seafood Shack last another 40 years.
The Seafood Shack Marina, Bar, and Grill
4110 127th St W, Cortez, FL 34215
Phone: (941) 794-1235