EAT OUT: Shuck’d, a pearl of an oyster bar TweetFacebookWHILE the laneway of Name The Lane is awaiting final approvals from the council, Shuck’d has permanently taken over the restaurant space, adding a unique touch to Newcastle East’s dining precinct.
Touted as an oyster bar, Shuck’d lives up to its name, with local Cole Bros oysters from Karuah, shucked and prepared to order.
The namesake dish is offered four ways: natural, Kilpatrick, mornay, as well as with a smoked salmon, ginger, wasabi, soy and lemon dressing. The oysters are tasty and fresh, and the classics are good renditions. The ginger and wasabi packs quite a punch – up through the nose and clearing out the sinuses – pow pow! Plenty of flavour in each; grab a mixed dozen to enjoy the range.
It would be good to see one more variety to add more weight to the establishment’s name and also just to try them in another delicious way. Perhaps the breakfast menu’s Bloody Mary oyster shot would be a good addition to the evening menu too.
The rest of the food offerings circulate around this briny theme with a few extra options thrown in for good measure.
There are some bar bites to sit alongside the oysters: kumara chips, cheese arancini, pork and prawn balls with sweet chilli; perfect for snacking on if you’re just visiting for an after-work drink.
An entree special of three chicken spring rolls offers hearty chunks of chicken and grated carrot inside the crispiest, thinnest pastry.
A sour apricot sauce adds a nice counterbalance to the dish. But these aren’t your usual spring rolls – they are almost a meal on their own.
There are lighter dishes (but still with plenty of substance), like a warming seafood chowder, a hot and spicy gumbo or a pot of mussels in white wine, parsley and garlic.
A bowl of linguine with prawns, chilli, garlic, roast peppers and spinach has plenty of colour and a good handful of prawns.
A warm chat potato salad provides a rainbow wheel of taste: salty, sweet and starchy. Roasted potatoes are cut in half, baked on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Browned scallops are dotted around, as well as olives and spinach, drizzled with a sweet mustard dressing. It’s filling despite appearances.
To satiate the largest appetites, the one-kilogram braised beef steak with roasted root vegetables or twice-cooked chicken with apricot glaze and sweet potato mash are the go-to dishes.
There are some sweet options to finish off with: Cointreau-steeped oranges with vanilla ice-cream and almond biscuits; a warm hazelnut chocolate pudding with butterscotch sauce or a citrus creme brulee with fresh cream and biscotti.
Service is friendly, prompt and informative and on a cool Friday night, Shuck’d was full of post-work revellers and diners, more so perhaps than when it was operating as its previous incarnation.
A clever niche for a harbourside city.