Increasingly, Conway is stepping up its game when it comes to the city’s food scene. Already home to some excellent food (David’s Burgers, Tacos 4 Life, ZAZA, etc.), the city this week is welcoming a new seafood concept. Shucked Surf & Turf Shack will hold its grand opening on Thursday in the space that once housed Russo’s Coal Fired Pizza off Highway 65. We got an invitation to check out Shucked at a private event Tuesday night, and I left generally impressed with the new business.
If you had ever dined at Russo’s, you’ll notice that not much has changed in terms of the layout of the place. Shucked has freshened everything up with new paint and lighting, but the massive pizza oven is still there, as is the general arrangement of seating. More than a dozen television screens line the dining room to draw in sports fans. The color scheme is bright and modern, and the place buzzed with excitement as diners got their first taste of the menu.
As you would expect, Shucked has quite a bit of seafood on its wide-ranging menu. Of course, there are the oysters, which are served raw or quickly baked in the main oven. Shrimp, crab, fish and even lobster can be found everywhere from the appetizers and salads to the main courses. The sheer variety of seafood is impressive; there aren’t many places that serve both crawfish tails and Chilean sea bass on the same menu. Of course, this means menu prices are all over the place; you could easily have a meal at Shucked for $8 or $38, depending on what you order.
So what’s good? For starters, you should certainly try the Spicy Mud Bugs Tails, which feature flash fried crawfish tails with just the right amount of heat. They’re a perfect snack to kick off dinner. Also enjoyable was the Pistol-Whipped Shrimp Bites, a generous portion of fried shrimp tossed in a butter sauce. I also got a bite of the Razorback Sails, which are oysters on the half shell broiled with Parmesan cheese, bacon and jalapeño peppers. The oysters were quite fresh, which is pretty much all you need to make for a good dish.
I sampled two entrees, the first of which was the Out at Sea Tacos. These two tacos were overflowing with grilled shrimp and mango salsa and bursting with freshness. But the show-stopper of the evening was the Short Rib. I am not exaggerating when I say everybody around me got quiet when this behemoth was dropped off at the table, and for good reason. It is just a beautiful plate. It didn’t hurt that the quality of the beef came through, or that the glaze matched the beef’s flavor wonderfully.
Shucked wasn’t serving dessert for the private event, though it will have some on the menu for its opening on Thursday. Shucked features a full bar and serves both Diamond Bear and Lost Forty beer on draft. Shucked will be open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.