21 West 17th Street
New York, NY 10011
BLT Fish Shack should not be confused with BLT Fish even though they're technically the same restaurant. BLT Fish is on the upstairs levels and is much more expensive and formal. BLT Fish Shack is its much more casual downstairs sister. Don't presume that BLT Fish Shack is INexpensive. It's still pricey. Just less so. BLT Fish Shack is modeled on a the typical, cozy, New England or Maryland (or Oregon coast) fishing village tavern. Lots of beers, a good raw menu, and a big Marlin on the wall.
On this outing, Bro and I took Dudeman and Shrink. We'd just emerged from four hours of cocktails in NoHo and the time had come to get some food in our system. As I said, the downstairs Shack is very casual. Families with little kids were at several tables and the atmosphere is vibrant without being clubby. The Shack does not cater to the trendy hipster demographic, so no one will really feel out of their element either by age or coolness.
To start, Bro and I ordered a handful of items from the raw bar. The selection is pretty extensive and you either enjoy oysters, whelks, and crab claws or you don't. I do and Bro does, so we ordered away. Shrink ordered the Lobster Bisque, which was disappointing. It was extremely thin, hardly creamy at all. And although it wasn't hot, it was spicy, as though the chef accidentally dropped a whole bottle of paprika into it. I skipped posting the photo but it was literally a red-orange color. I usually love lobster bisque, but this one I advise skipping. Dudeman tried the New England Clam Chowder, which was good, but also a little on the thin side. It seemed that the mantra of soups at Fish Shack was to use 2% instead of cream. In any event, I'd get the clam chowder again, and certainly faster than I would if the lobster bisque remains in its current form. Dudeman also ordered a Maryland Crab Cake, which was very good. Not bready and doughy like you might find at a cheaper place looking to replace crab with filler. I would certainly recommend this appetizer to anyone.
Shrink ordered the Skate entree, served with a rice pilaf and a small arugula side salad. Rice pilaf is rice pilaf is rice pilaf and unless the chef ruins it or does something quirky to it, they all taste alike. But the skate was incredible. It was beyond tender and whatever blend of spices were used was perfect. They didn't overpower each other and completely rid the dish of any of the flavor of the fish. And skate's a white fish. White fish almost have no flavor by definition. My entree was the Surf & Turf. I'd had a makeshift surf and turf at Sparks the other week and this just couldn't compare. Forget that it was a third the size, because like I said, at Sparks, it wasn't actually on the menu. But the steak was not better than pretty good and the lobster was a little dry. If I could go back and choose something else, I probably would have. Bro, meanwhile, chose the Lobster Roll. While it was good, I feel like for $26, you should get the cheaper version at Luke's instead. Dudeman wasn't hungry enough to order an entree so he just picked off of our plates.
We were too full to order dessert, so we headed on our merry way home.