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Jan 21, 2010 07:14 AM

My review of Miss Shirley's (hopefully I'll get it right this time)

This is a cut&paste so the link to the menu won't work.

Miss Shirley's Cafe

This place is on the more pricey side of our spending spectrum, but you can still manage a great meal for under $15 a person, especially if you avoid the crab dishes, which today we didn't. We have been here plenty of times and I was excited about returning. This is the type of place were several items practically jump off the menu and yell "PICK ME!" Even though there are several tried and true items, we wanted to try something new (well, one selection we have had before at a different restaurant). Here is their full menu.

Before I get started on my review, I just wanted to say I do like this place overall and I recommend it to anyone who would ask, but today's experience was below what I've come to expect. I never thought this would happen, but here comes a less than perfect review for Miss Shirley's.

The Mac Crabby - Both of our eyes were drawn to this selection. Mac and cheese made with high quality, creamy cheese and savory crab, what's not to love? Our high hopes were dashed. We agreed the main problem was the cheese. It was a thick get-stuck-in-your-throat cheese that muscled out any other flavors. When a savory and pricey ingredient, oh let's say crab, is featured in a dish, I personally would like to taste it but that's just me. We separated several pieces of crab from the cheese, cleaned them off, and enjoyed them separately. The Old Bay seasoning came across as regular salt after being submerged in the over powering cheese.

Pumpkin Cheesecake-Stuffed French Toast - We have ordered this before at Blue Moon Cafe and we were expecting a similar, if not better, quality. The first thing I noticed was the thickness of the bread. I suffer from chronic Eyesbiggerthanmystomache Syndrome, so this excited me. But the thickness turned out to be a negative as it overwhelmed the dish and made it seem dry. The pumpkin cheesecake filling between slices was good, but spread to thinly to compensate for the dryness of the bread. Have you ever had a dry roast beef sandwich with too little mayo? Similar situation. I added some syrup, but I would have had to drench it. There was also a thin layer of raspberry coulis along the underside, but it didn't mix well. I would have rather had slices of fresh bananas and strawberries to balance with the sweetness of the syrup, cheesecake filling, and whipped cream.

I don't leave my food unfinished often, but today I did. Again, I want to stress that I do recommend Miss Shirley's. Unfortunately, we chose two-star selections from a typically five-star menu. Will we return? Yes, eventually but no rush.

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  1. "What's not to love?" The combination of seafood and cheese is a BIG no-no. Sounds disgusting to me.

    It would be hard to find it any where I've been in Europe, that's for sure.

    Although there are some who believe you should just "eat what you like:"

    6 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      Sweet seafood (lobster, crab, etc.) actually goes quite well with creamy/cheesy sauces, and lobster mac is a pretty common dish these days. And I'm pretty sure you can find a coquille St. Jacques or a Lobster Thermidor in France.

      1. re: sweth

        Coquilles St Jacques in the south of France is usually made with olive oil and butter. In the north, creme fraiche. Cheese would be some kind of oddity.

        Homard Thermidor is often with some grated cheese on top before being put into the broiler, it's true. Though outside of Brittany you could probably go your whole life without finding Thermidor on a menu.

        Just because something is common 'nowadays' doesn't mean it's a good idea. Personally, I detest that in America we are melting cheese on top of everything. It's a crutch just like slathering all sandwiches with mayo or serving fries with everything.

        It is very unusual to find seafood and cheese together in Europe. But I did put the link in my previous post to show there are many Chowhounds who like it, and that thread does provide some solid background info on the question.

        Anyway, my point in responding to cainin2000 is not that you can't love cheese and seafood, but when he says "whats' not to love?" it implies that everybody loves it when that is very far from the truth. Ultimately, he didn't like the combo either.

        1. re: Steve

          I've never seen Thermidor without some cheese on top. Re: CSJ--I said creamy/cheesy.

          WRT melting cheese on everything, I agree that that is a crutch. But including a protein in mac & cheese is a time honored tradition, and crab or lobster are actually two of the proteins that work best with a good bechamel-based cheese sauce that an upscale mac & cheese usually has.

          It seems like you draw a distinction between cream w/ seafood and cheese w/ seafood. If so, what's the difference that you see that makes one acceptable and the other not?

          1. re: sweth

            Cream with anything is very popular in France, above the Loire Valley, that's for sure. Personally I don't like cheese and seafood because there is a 'funkiness' to cheese (yeah, even mild cheese) that masks the flavor of fresh seafood. Just like in the thread I linked, it is not traditional - even nowadays- though I 'm not sure anyone can explain exactly why... except to say it doesn't taste good. YMMV

            I don't want to get too Off Topic, so I decided to start a different thread about cheese in other foods on the General Topics Board....


      2. re: Steve

        I had mussels escargot style in Paris last Wednesday.

        1. re: WestIndianArchie

          I assume "moules escargot" is mussels served in the same style as typical of escargot: with butter, garlic, and parsley. If somebody put cheese on top of it, that would be unusual, but not impossible.