DineOut: The Shack is back in Spencer

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 8, 2011

By Robin M. Perry
For the Salisbury Post
SPENCER — Those who have been around a while will remember the Chicken and Oyster Shack on North Salisbury Avenue with its famous battered fries and fried chicken. Kristi Stevens, who has 20 years of experience in the restaurant business, has recently opened The Shack in the same location.
“We wanted to keep the name at least a little bit familiar for the people who will always know this place as the Chicken and Oyster Shack,” she said.
Stevens’ goal is to offer a menu that will give everyone in the family a choice. Fresh vegetables, salads and sauces are among the offerings.
“Nothing comes out of a can,” she said.
For those who loved battered fries, The Shack still serves them, using the original recipe. The fried chicken is hand breaded, never frozen, and made with Stevens’ special recipe.
For the past two years, Stevens had her own restaurant in Landis called Kristi’s. When the Spencer location became available with a lower lease, she decided to move.
She has had experience in a variety of dining spots, including Johnny’s in Rockwell and Jimmy’s in China Grove. She credits her mother, Ann Menius, for her love of cooking.
“She taught me how to cook and to love cooking,” Stevens said of her mother, who passed away in 2009. She also had quite a collection of country-looking decorations that Stevens has used throughout the new restaurant.
“I wanted to make it feel like home when you walk in,” she said.
The Shack is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. In addition to the all- fresh and hand-breaded seafood, you can order daily specials such as lasagna, country style steak, meat loaf, prime rib (on Fridays) or shrimp. Prices range from $5 to $7.95 for the specials and usually include a side, a drink or both. Sides include collards, pintos, stewed potatoes, homemade pasta salad, potato salad and red or white slaw. Stevens shops at the Lexington Farmers Market or Variety Produce in Rockwell for the fresh vegetables she serves.
One of the most popular items is the frogs legs, served hand breaded or salt and pepper for $8.59. We tried them along with the pasta salad. They were tasty and tender. The pasta salad was delicious with a great Italian dressing and fresh tomatoes. Choice baby back ribs are also a specialty with a rather sweet BBQ sauce cooked to a fall-off-the bone tenderness ($9.29 for a half rack).
All seafood can be ordered fried, grilled or cajun-style and The Shack does have combination plates and all-you- can-eat offers for items such as baby flounder ($7.79), whole catfish ($8.59) or buffalo popcorn shrimp ($13.29).
Another nice feature is the small-portion menu that offers an entrée and a side item for under $5. There is no age limit and choices include chicken strips, wings, hamburger or cheeseburger, baby flounder or popcorn shrimp. Just right for the kids or those with a smaller appetite.
Desserts are also homemade from Stevens’ recipes and include strawberry yum yum, banana pudding, pineapple delight and her chocolate messy cake. Tonya Sossoman creates the sweet treats.
For August, Stevens is offering a “back to school special” with hot dogs for $1.25. Starting Aug. 11, the restaurant will host karaoke at 7 p.m. on Thursdays. Catering is available, as is carry-out with a drive-through window. Call 704-637-0050 to place an order. The Shack also has a banquet room available for private parties for no extra charge.
Stevens enjoys the restaurant business and having satisfied customers.
“It is easy to satisfy people with good food,” she said. And she remembers her mom’s influence and encouragement in everything from cooking lessons to the restaurant’s decorations. “Every day we succeed, we owe to her.”
The Shack is located at 1205 N. Salisbury Ave.
Robin Perry is a freelance writer.