Thursday, March 13, 2008
Finals are back - with a vengeance (ah, the joys of the quarter system) - and I'm in the midst of them, so I can’t stick around for long today, but I wanted to tell you about a nice little meal I had a couple of weeks ago at Half Shell.
It’s nothing too special and it’s far from gourmet, but if you have a hankering for seafood in Chicago - and I’m not talking Branzino or house-cured gravlax here, I’m talking roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-to-crackin’ seafood – this is a pretty good bet. The atmosphere is kitschy and fun – it’s a basement bar with all the adornments you’d expect of a basement bar. It’s dimly lit, the tables are small and pretty close together; the service is pleasant, if a bit on the gruff side, and it all fits so nicely together. There just aren’t a ton of places in this city you can go to on a whim and shell out $26 for a giant plate of crab legs – atop a giant pile of fries (which I didn’t even attempt to eat) – along with some toasted white bread and herb butter.
We started with a dozen Blue Point oysters. They were huge, and while not incredibly flavorful, they were certainly passable considering Chicago's in the middle of the country, not to mention a pretty good deal for around $13 for the dozen.
Half Shell is no-frills, which probably is what allows them to keep the prices as low as they are. Yet the crab we had was great. There was plenty to eat inside these shells – and I left stuffed to the gills. The herb butter was fantastic (as herb butter usually is). I didn’t see anyone order anything but crab legs while we were there – but I can’t really imagine why anyone would.
676 W. Diversey Pkwy (b/w Clark & Orchard)