Monday, December 26, 2011

The Shanty

Location: 38985 North US Highway 41, Wadsworth, IL 60083
Cost: About $25 per person

My parents and I made a trip up to Milwaukee the other weekend to visit family. We were planning on getting dinner at some point on our way back and had a long debate in the car about where we should go. Although I've gotten somewhat tired of food TV in general, I used to be a big fan of Diners Drive-Ins and Dives. My parents still watch here and there, and we recalled that there were a few places between Chicago and Milwaukee. At first we were going to hit up the Comet Cafe which is basically the bacon center of the Midwest, but that didn't really seem up my mom's alley. Instead we stopped about halfway home, just off the highway, at a little place called The Shanty.

Logistics
If you take US 41 where it splits off from 94 there's this little group of restaurants next to a few gas stations at one of the spaced out stop lights. One of those places is The Shanty. It's got this wooden feel throughout and seems like a real neighborhood kind of place. It gives a bit of a Merlotte's feel if you catch my reference. We overheard a bunch of people say it gets busy, but that may be a different sense of busy than what us city folk think. If you're worried though, feel free to make a reservation.

Our service was overly kind and efficient. The ambiance was a bit quiet, and my parents were worried that if they bring back a bunch of their friends that they'd get tossed for being too loud. I don't really see the issue though. The cost is pretty cheap. Most seafood dishes were a few bucks under $20. Some appetizers were a bit pricey (around $12). Burgers and sandwiches were around $8. You can even get a pretty large steak or plate of crab legs for $25 or less.

The Food
We based most of our ordering off of what looked good on TV. Accordingly we got started with the Whiskey Shrimp. The dish was basically large pieces of shrimp served over toast points and smothered in a whiskey cream sauce. It was just enough for the three of us to split. The cream sauce was super rich and delicious. The shrimp were nicely prepared too.

The Whiskey Shrimp

For our main dishes my mom got the Tequilla and Orange Grilled Salmon, my dad got the Alaskan King Crab Legs, and I got the Mahi Mahi. The salmon was perfectly cooked, and the sauce was tangy. It was really one of the better salmon dishes I've tried in a while. The crab legs were reasonably difficult to manage. My dad was relatively pleased but said he's had better. My Mahi Mahi had a nice pink center and an exterior sear. It came with some delicious purple fingerling potatoes and was served in some kind of caramel sauce. The sauce was definitely too sweet and left a candy apple kind of feel in my mouth. When I scraped that to the side, the dish was otherwise fantastic.

The Mahi Mahi

The Alaskan King Crab Legs

 The Orange Tequila Salmon

Finally, for dessert we got the homemade Strawberry Cheesecake. It was a pretty non-traditional preparation. It came out like a rectangle with a crumbly bottom and really thin consistency. The flavors were all in order, but it was mostly just another piece of cheesecake.

 The Strawberry Cheesecake

Overall
Even before the first bite of food, my parents fell in love with The Shanty, and once the meal ended, I was convinced as well. The fish is cheap and universally cooked to specification. I usually don't tell people to make a trek out this far from the city, but it's pretty damn good. If you happen to be on your way up north on 94 it's a must. I'm giving them 4.5 out of 5 Pearls.


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