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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
GRILL & BAR
We decided to do a little exploring in the Brunswick, Georgia area one Saturday and did some online research about a nice spot for lunch. A place called the Oyster Shack really caught my attention. Their web site bragged about "wild Georgia shrimp" and "real grouper" and other local and fresh favorites. They boasted that fresh shrimp were delivered daily. This certainly was music to my ears. However as we approached the place around 1 o'clock, there were only two cars in the parking lot! It's been my experience that a restaurant can only traffic heavily in truly fresh seafood if there's a steady stream of customers. Anybody who knows seafood knows that it has a short shelf life if it is really fresh and not taken out of the freezer. I'm not saying that the Oyster Shack didn't feature fresh seafood but things were suspicious from the lack of cars so it was a pass on this place and now where to eat? Well we had passed a place called Spanky's on the main drag and it was extremely crowded. In fact we had passed it several times before during other visits to the area and it always had a full parking lot so we figured this had to be the place in town.
Spanky's is located on a river and marsh. The rear deck of this casual, cement floor place faces the water. It appeared to be a seafood joint. But it was much more, which was bad news for me.
I'm old fashioned when it comes to dining out. When I want a steak, I want a place that concentrates on steak. Same thing for seafood. The menu at Spanky's was pretty ambitious offering everything from fish to shrimp to chicken strips to burgers to Mexican. Now for many, this would be a good thing. But for my taste, I want a place that specializes in one thing although limited other items are fine, too. Take Shula's, for instance. First and foremost, it's a fine steak house. But you can also get fresh fish and lobster. That's okay. If they had offered Mexican, too, I wouldn't be a fan. And it doesn't have to be fine dining. It just needs to focus on one main thing. We love Florida's famous seafood shacks!
Okay -- let's focus on Spanky's. We got there around 1:10 Saturday afternoon. The place was packed. We were told it would be fifteen or twenty minutes before a table would be ready. We were told we could wait out on the deck, which had tables but service wasn't being offered out there that particular day. As we walked by other tables on the way I observed the food. Mainly burgers and some fried seafood which looked just so-so.
It took about twenty-five minutes to get a table and we placed our diet Coke orders and opened the menu. Since this was the weekend it was the all day menu and I must tell you that for a rustic place, prices were a little on the high side. Seafood platters, which I would never order because this wasn't just a seafood place, were $21, as I recall. Fried shrimp were $18.
My wife and I both decided on the grouper finger basket for about $10. It came with a choice of "spuds" or fries. We were told that spuds were battered and fried potato rounds. We chose spuds.
It took nearly a half hour for the food to arrive. The portion was generous, probably six fingers around an ounce each. And amazingly, the fish was actually grouper and it tasted fresh! But there was a flaw. The beer batter was not at all crisp and it had no seasoning at all and required additional salt. The potato rounds were equally bland and required a lot of salt and catsup.
Usually my wife and I agree on restaurants but not this time. I said I would never waste my time here again. She said she thought it was pretty good. Given the generally high prices, slow service, and lack of seasoning, I wouldn't recommend this place to you. And checking reviews from tripadvisor.com on this restaurant, others would tend to agree.
If you'd like to give it a shot, and it is hugely popular, they're located on the main drag at 1200 Glynn Avenue on the right as you're going north. It's a sprawling yellow building with tropical plants outside the place. Their phone number is (912) 267-6100. As far as I can tell, they do not have a web site.