Friday, March 5, 2010

Restaurant Review- Plunkin' Shack

Across from the boatyard, fishing docks, graving yard and marina in Port Angeles, and named Plunkin' Shack, you expect this will be a fish place.  But in fact, fish plays a very, very small part on the menu, as it does in the local economy.  As the dreaded Bolt decision changed the economic landscape in this area, the Plunkin' Shack has changed too.  And thrives.  The same atmosphere of a local dive prevails, the same tiny, crowded half dozen tables and four stools keep the sense of being part of a dock workers early cup of coffee and sandwich place.  But there are subtle updates reflecting the fact that the customers are local businessmen and women, or retirees.

And there are not so subtle changes that keep the Plunkin' Shack up to date on the menu.  Yes, at lunch you can get a burger, but no fries, even a hot dog.  But more of the menu is devoted to the deli and specialty sandwiches they make.  And how do you serve accompaniments to sandwiches when you have no fryer?  Why you make deli salads.  And offer a half dozen or so to choose from to go with the sandwich.  What kind of soup do you serve in this waterfront location?  No, not chowder and cioppino, try tomato bisque and onion soup.  One small quibble, there were samples of cheesecake on the counter- they were a good quality product brought in.  But the portion price is over $5- dessert should not cost as much as the entree.  Ever.

We had the onion soup.  Nice try.  The onions were abundant, and nicely caramelized.  The crouton was properly submersed in the soup, not floating on top.  But the broth was too salty by far, the product of either too much time held hot, an all too common failing with restaurant soups, or the over aggressive use of instant soup base mix.  Either way, too bad.  We also had a Reuben, accompanied by a nice, light pea salad.  The sandwich was classic non-deli Reuben.  Good bread, good sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, decent deli corned beef- sliced in back.  It was juicy, toasty and balanced.  A nice sandwich for a good price, less than $8, or $5 for a half.  I would only have liked a more aggressive pan sear on the finished sandwich, and more imagination in the dressing.  The salad was really made with care.

We like the Plunkin' Shack.  It represents a couple of hard working people who craft a menu with care, even if they don't prep everything from scratch, and make artful use of ingredients that have been processed elsewhere.  They tiny kitchen and dining room, the lunch-only hours appeal to my iconoclastic nature.  I like to go to eat at places that are balanced- price, atmosphere, quality and service.  Plunkin' Shack is a place like that- comfortable, and comfortable with itself.

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