Saturday, September 11, 2010

Redeeming The Shrimp

 I finally succumbed to taking the exit to Ybor City after terrible traffic detoured me once again here in fabulous driver Tampaland. And it led me down 22nd to a place I had tried once before and where we had some issues. I let some time go by to let the place work out some of the kinks and the shills tire out on giving glowing reviews that seemed out of place.

 Here I was, back at Shrimp and Co., a seafood purveyor caddy cornered to the famous yet food poor Columbia Restaurant. As I walked in I felt like it was someplace in the French Quarter in New Orleans, kind of like a mini Acme Oyster although sparser in terms of the ambiance and offerings. I was heartened by the place being almost half full before 7 PM. In fact during the meal the coming and going was good and when I left they were more than half filled.

On to the meal. I was told to sit where I wanted and chose a four top near the front off to the side. Good place to see the whole restaurant.
I was greeted promptly by my server and asked about beers available and decided on a Stella knowing it's crispness would go well with the seafood to come. Interesting menu and it actually took me some time to decide what I would order and I peppered Jose with a few questions before finally deciding. NOTE: Some of the items that show up on the website menu are not on the one in house and vice versa. I was trying to choose between a shrimp/oyster platter, a steam pot or one other entree that escapes me now. After the questions and info exchange I went with the Steam Pot, a melange of clams, shrimp, blue crabs( the clincher this evening), cob corn and new potatoes. One thing they do point out on the menu is that when you order is when they bread it, cook it and bring it out hot and fresh.
My Steam Pot

It took a little while to get the food out and I was plenty hungry when it arrived. Very appealing on the appearance at the table as you can see and I immediately dug in. I asked for some drawn butter to dip in and was also informed that the whole platter was swimming in butter. But I like putting copious amounts of hot sauce in mine to spice things up even more and in this case it was Crystal doing the honors. Ok, now on to the meat of the piece, the review of my dining experience here at Shrimp & Co. I will be debuting my new rating scale of Five Starfish and will rate each aspect of the platter since it is all I ordered....unless you count the Key Lime sliver I took home.

Pardon me right upfront if this gets a bit long and involved but since my less than satisfactory visit I want to give them some constructive feedback of value to them and their customers. Right off the bat I will say service was much better than before BUT........

DRINKS: Not a huge selection and they were out of two brews that the table of fun loving ladies tried to order. They seem to push the Sangria as the go-to in the alcoholic genre, maybe due to the Columbia behemoth next door. I ordered a Stella and it came out cold sans glass. RATING: 3.00 of out 5.00

ATMOSPHERE: As I said before, it was a nice atmosphere and matched well with the expectations of the food and overall experience. The place is not huge inside BUT I believe that to be a good thing as you could still hear yourself speak yet there was good energy around. RATING: 3.75 out of 5.00

ENTREE: For $19.99 I was pleased with the amount, even as a HUGE fan of seafood, especially when it is boiled or steamed spicy. I feel I need to rate each food on the platter since they varied widely in my opinion. I started with clams so will rate them first. They were small but that is most always the case with steamed. One small annoyance, the clam shells were almost all empty and I had to fish for the clams under all the other food. RATING: 3.00. Blue Crabs should have been the star here and they were fresh and the meat was sweet and tender as it should be BUT the crabs were almost obscenely small and the meat hard to get to as a result. And the smallness meant the claws were really just a garnish and I hate it when I cannot eat the entire crab. RATING 2.50. The shrimp were the most plentiful seafood on the dish and came out cooked head on. This is a plus in my book since flavor comes from the heads when cooking. A few were a bit difficult to peel but overall they were tasty morsels. RATING: 3.75. Potatoes and corn were REALLY really good and the potatoes not overcooked mush and the corn sweet and tender. RATING 4.00. Overall the dish was cooked well letting me know the guy in the kitchen does know how to prepare it. RATING 3.50.

Nice Ambiance and Right Size Dining Room
DESSERT: Took what was supposed to be a piece of Key Lime pie, housemade, to go. It was a good rendition but hardly could be called a piece of pie in the deep south. It was more like two bites. RATING: 2.75

SERVICE: Again, much improved BUT I have some suggestions. For this dish the discard plate was a small saucer when either a bucket or another platter of the same size should be brought out. Also, the napkins given were inferior and with this dish you need a roll of paper towels for the table at a minimum or a stack of napkins. The after dinner wipes were a joke, seriously, get a new supplier. Once my beer was brought I was checked back with on beverages after 45 minutes. Also, bring out water without being asked, it adds class. To the defense side of things on service, I think the coverage may have been a bit overwhelming for the number of servers on hand. RATING 3.50

I WILL however make another trip in with my wife, the goal of the restaurant. I will ask more questions and try some of the other good looking dishes on the menu. For now, on my new 5 Starfish rating scale I am giving Shrimp & Co. a solid 3.33 out of 5.00.

And by the way, THEIR food is much better than the food at Columbia. Next time I will try some Sangria "Joda".

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