Last weekend we returned to a place we had been to only once. We often wonder about that, because we really liked the food a lot that one time we went. It has been closed more than open these last few months, but has returned to more normal hours recently.
It’s a place called The Shack, deep in Covington heading out of town. That’s a slight exaggeration. It’s three blocks past the intersection of Hwy 21 and West 21st (we have a few streets that are named the same for some idiotic reason).
When we went in this time I realized why we don’t come more often. I don’t like the vibe at all. The menu matches the cool curtains of the place, which reminds me of The Jetsons, and that is a good memory. The rest of the place reminds me of some-out-of-the-way hippie enclave one might find hidden in Malibu Canyon. The building is the old Schwing’s location, which was a Covington institution until other restaurants appeared on the northshore, drawing away their customer base. They moved to a more visible space at the corner of Hwy 190 and Three Rivers Rd. before closing many years ago.
The Shack is cute in its own way, and has a very loyal customer base. People seem to know each other, and there is an adorable backyard with picnic tables and an outdoor bar overhead string lights and playground equipment. It’s called The Shackyard and families go straight back there. I’ll eat there next time.
These were all my first impressions of the environment, and they were validated on this last visit. None of this bothered Tom, because he cares only about what is on the plate. And what is on the plate here generally thrills him.
He is still talking about a sheepshead dish with a crawfish cream sauce that he gushed over the entire time he was eating it. It was a pan-seared fish, topped with spinach, served with white rice, and topped with a spicy crawfish cream sauce that was studded with crab claws.
I was busy with my own Cubano and black beans, but hearing his prolonged exclamations made me stop and try it. Delicious!
But I get ahead of myself. We started with Queso and tortillas chips from the tortillas they make themselves. That tells us something right there about a commitment to excellence. Why does a little place deep in Covington have to make its own tortillas? Despite that, this was disappointing. The bowl had some chopped chiles on top and the tortilla chips were good, but the queso fell flat.
I liked the Cubano very well, and that is in keeping with our last visit here, where we got a burger and other sandwiches, and those were all good too. I especially liked the black beans, which had a unique flavor and a kick to them. The Cubano hit all the right notes with the mustard and pickle combo. I liked the pork which was ample, and the whole package was nice enough to make me finish it, which one should never do with a sandwich that large.
Tom got the bread pudding and there was another round of gushing. I am not a bread pudding fan at all but this one seemed particularly light and cakelike. The bread pudding connoisseur declared among the best he has had.
Our server couldn’t have been friendlier and more helpful.
There is too much else to like here to be put off by the place. I will eat in The Shackyard next time. And Tom will have to put up with it if he wants to eat that food he loves again.
1204 W 21st Covington