Clams, Chaos And Cuisine At The Shack West
While The Shack’s road to Huntington village was paved in part by the bikers and locals who lined up in Centerport for “clams and chaos” staring way back in 1980, the restaurant is hoping to expand its horizons without losing its unique charm.
With the big 3-5 approaching at the Centerport flagship on Route 25A, owner Mace Colodny, never afraid to take a chance, said it was a great time to bring a new, more refined palate to his two restaurants. He opened the newest – known as The Shack “West” – on Huntington village’s Gerard Street in September 2013, finally solving that great predicament of satisfying the craving for a Shack Attack on a rainy day.
But the Huntington Shack is much more than that. In his new trappings, Mace and new Executive Chef Michael Heinlein are “on a quest” to get away from fried food. Fret not, clam-diggers; the fried clams, fish and chips and shrimp remain a staple, but are complemented by ample gluten-free, vegetarian and dairy-free choices alongside fresh fish and pasta.
“There is limited fried food, but the classics remain,” Mace said, noting that some of the dishes at Huntington’s Shack that can be recreated in Centerport’s tighter cooking quarters will be featured during the 35th season’s menu.
The interior décor embodies the classic Shack charm indoors, but with added panache. Much of the wood interior is salvaged – the bar area and side wall panels are all wood salvaged from a Canadian barn; the benches lining the walls come from an Amish church in Pennsylvania, Mace explains.
We started with an array of soups including a lobster chowder enhanced by big chunks of sweet Maine lobster; a gluten-free and surprisingly delicate Cream of Wild Mushroom soup that brings the mushroom flavor to the forefront; and thick, hearty New England Clam Chowder with ample clams, onions, celery and seasonings (all $4 cup, $6 bowl).
Spicy, but not overwhelmingly so, tender, juicy Shack “West” Buffalo Shrimp ($12) are full of pep and complemented by mild, crumpled blue cheese. It was a winner at our table. Paired with a savory Holy Trinity hash, their jumbo crab cake ($11) is great for sharing, albeit a bit mild after the flavor-packed Buffalo shrimp. And if you’ve ever had a hankering for flash-fried lobster on a skewer, look no further than Lobster Corn Dogs ($13), a special offering during our visit.
Entrée choices illustrate Mace’s new culinary mission clearly. One of our favorites was gluten-free Two-Faced Tuna ($25), blackened on one side and sesame-crusted on the other, with flavors that are well balanced. Paired with mango sticky rice, Brussels sprouts and bacon, and a carrot-coconut nage, there’s something for everybody. The sweet, juicy scallops stood out in a risotto special with jumbo shrimp and clams ($24), and the Bite Me Burger ($14) with Manchego cheese, braised onions and Twisted Mayo, tempts you to do just what its name says.
Happy Hour, from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, includes half-priced beer and wines and as well as appetizer specials at the bar. Their full liquor license application is also in the works, as are plans to begin a Sunday brunch in the next couple of weeks, so you can have a Shack Attack all day and all night if you want to.
The Shack “West”
46 Gerard St., Huntington village
Atmosphere: Fun, friendly and funky
Cuisine: Shack favorites and lots of fresh seafood
Hours: Wed-Sun 11 a.m.-last dinner seating
Closed Monday-Tuesday until spring