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Jul 20, 2006 12:13 AM

Ok, Summer Shack didn't suck today

I participated in a recent thread that included a debate of the merits (or lack thereof) of Summer Shack, and I firmly was on the "it sucks" side. Notwithstanding that, I found myself in the Delta terminal at Logan this afternoon, choosing between Legal's Test Kitchen and Summer Shack. Based solely on the menu, my parents and I chose Summer Shack (it was more the case that we didn't care for the LTK menu, but Summer Shack it was).

So first the bad: service was really ditzy. We were greated at the entrance by a sign that read "Please Wait To Be Seated," and even though the restaurant was nearly empty at 1:00 and a number of employees were milling around, we were greated only by the sign and not by a human being. After several minutes, I finally went up to the bar and asked if we could seat ourselves. Instead of seating us, we got the nod to seat ourselves, so we grabbed menus and chose a table.

Inserted into the menu was a page of specials, including a BBQ arctic char sandwich. I ordered this, but five minutes later the waitress came back to inform me that that was yesterday's special. So I switched to the fried fish sandwich on the regular menu. We later noticed that one of the two blackboards on which the specials are listed still listed the BBQ arctic char sandwich.

That's it for the ditzy service. The rest of the service was competent, and the service from the guy who looked to be in charge was very good (although he was nowhere to be found when we were looking to be seated initially). I should also note that I have always found Summer Shack's service to be decent (young but enthusiastic), even though I have rarely enjoyed the food.

So on to the food: As mentioned, I had the fried fish sandwich. The fish was heavily battered, which struck me as inappropriate for a fish sandwich. But this was a design flaw, not an execution flaw. Although I would have preferred less batter, or just breading, the fish was moist and the sandwich filling. My dad had the fish and chips, which comprised a more generous portion of the same fish that was in my sandwich and a more generous serving of fries than was served with my sandwich. My mom ordered baked scrod, which she also enjoyed.

Bottom line is that although our lunch is not going to win any culinary awards, it was well executed, tasty and filling: I may not be rushing back, but it didn't suck, either. The tab, with three soft drinks, came to $48.

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  1. We live near the Summer Shack in the Back Bay and we went there a number times when it first opened. The food was always fine by us. Good basic seafood meals and some fun stuff too. And, they have had some good bartenders in the past.

    We stopped going because of the noise. We were there one day when they had Michael Jackson shrieking from one set of speakers and some sport event droning on from the TVs. I object to either form of noise with my meals.

    And, then there is the wine list for beer guzzlers. I can't imagine a worse wine list. It looks like one of those low end places that lets the beer distributor set up their wine program.

    Perhaps this has changed but we stopped trying to go there. You can only give a place so many chances. We mentioned our issues to staff people. They always seemed to say, very politely, "Hey, this is what we are." Each time we returned we were faced with noise from the speakers and sub-par wine with our meals.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PennyC

      Good points, Penny. I forgot to mention that, notwithstanding the service blunders, eating at the airport location was far more relaxing than eating in the noisy barn that is the Cambridge location. I haven't been to the Back Bay location, but I suspect I won't be trying it anytime soon (if I'm looking for seafood in that area, I'll head straight to B&G).

    2. I'm a fan of the Summer Shack at the Delta terminal...always served quickly..nice option at an airport..good quality.

      I bike on the Fish Pier a lot of mornings and Summer Shack trucks are always getting loaded from good rep fin and shellfish vendors.

      I've only eaten at the airport branch of JW; but I know for a fact that they are buying high quality fish.

      1. I've criticised the Summer Shack for less-than-juicy oysters, I've been thinking I was wrong about that.

        1. I've always thought of Summer Shack as one of those "stuck in the middle" places. Whenever I go there I leave thinking I should have spent more $ and gone to someplace better or less $ and gone to someplace cheaper (and possibly still better).

          1. OK, I go to the Summer Shack at Alewife to meet a dear old friend of mine every once in a while. We choose this place because it is a mid point (sort of) betwixt JP and Lincoln. I avoid sitting at the tables and only sit at the bar. Could this make for better service because they know I am a regular??? I know the food sucks most of the time, but I also know food and what to order and what to avoid. I do have a hard time with those chalkboard specials, but I have been able to tweak them a bit and it has come out perfect. I don't know. I can't knock this place. It reeaaaaaly can be bad, and I hesitate to what is executed. This is not a place that doesn't tolerate substitions so I exercise that. I stand my ground and get what I get what I ask for. They follow through and I love that.

            5 Replies
            1. re: birdy30

              OT, but if I were meeting someone between Lincoln (where I live, too) and JP, I think you'd find some much better options in Waltham, Newton or Needham not too far from Route 128 or Route 9 (all of which would, I think, be easier for the JP person to get to than Summer Shack).

              1. re: Blumie

                Blumie - tell me what you think of Aquataine Bis on Rte. 9. What are some other options out there?

                1. re: birdy30

                  For meeting a close a friend, Aquataine Bis, a Parisian style bistro, probably is the best of the several options in that area. I've been there a few times, and have found it to be good to very good, but in any event far suprior in every way to Summer Shack. Some on this board like the place a lot.

                  The other nearby options are Legal Seafoods and, on the pricer end, The Metropolitan (which I haven't been to) and The Capital Grill. Although I'm not rushing to any of these places, I'd pick any of them over Summer Shack any day of the week, and all would be good choices for dinner with a close friend.

                  There are a number of good options in Needham, too, that would be convenient for both of you.

                  1. re: Blumie

                    I think Aquitaine Bis is now high on my short list. Thank you so much for helping. :)

                  2. re: birdy30

                    Birdy, I would also recommend Kouzina, the modern Greek restaurant, near the Waban T on Beacon Street in Newton. That also seems close to half-way.