Shuck opens at 135 S. Gay Street

Shuck Raw Bar and Ale, Gay Street, Knoxville, 2012

The word has been out for months that Shuck, a Raw Bar would arriving on the 100 block of Gay Street bringing another shot of life to a block that seems poised for greatness, but has had its share of ups (opening of Lululemon, Harry’s, 11 Cafe) and downs (closing of Eleven, Unarmed Merchants, Havana Nights and Nama’s move). Perhaps Shuck will continue the momentum started late last year with the opening of 11 Cafe and this great block will begin to realize its potential.

Sign on First Friday outside Shuck

Training and “VIPs?”

First Friday this month found the doors opened only a crack as staff training was underway. It built my excitement to see the rumor finally becoming a reality. Urban Woman and I grew up on the Gulf Coast and we do love our oysters, so our hopes were high.

Urban Woman can’t wait for me to take a picture

We did something I’m not proud of Saturday night: We got in our car and drove down there. I never drive anywhere downtown, but people, it was twenty degrees and the wind was howling. I could take one or the other, but the two together was just too painful. Even the walk from the car to the front door hurt. I diligently stood against the elements and snapped a couple of pictures for you guys, so give me some credit. I’ll walk next time, I promise.

Shuck Raw Bar, view behind the bar, Gay Street, Knoxville, 2012

Due to the small size of the restaurant, they do not take reservations. When we arrived, about 6:15 on Saturday night, the place was packed, which was encouraging to see. We were offered two seats at the bar, which we actually enjoyed, though I noticed a table was empty and apparently being held. From the end of the bar we were able to watch the oysters being pulled from their shells and the bar tender mixing drinks, so we had built-in entertainment. Speaking of entertainment, there are no television screens in the house – thank you! There was also no music playing as far as we could hear, which was fine because the volume was high enough without it. It was not too loud to talk, but it was certainly at a festive level.

Spanish-style soup with shrimp

Fried Oysters with Cole Slaw

We wanted to try a couple of different items and share, but neither of us could resist the fried oysters, so we’ll have to branch out next time. They were tasty and fried perfectly with very little apparent grease, which is a feat. I did have a Spanish-style soup that was spicy and delicious. It looked a bit like gumbo, but didn’t taste like it at all, with more (what I think of as) Mexican spices and less French, though it did contain a generous amount of shrimp.

Raw Oysters courtesy of the nice couple beside us

The couple beside us at the bar had the raw oysters which they said were good. One of the oysters was very small and when he pointed this out he was given a very large one to replace it. We also saw someone get the Torre de Crustaceos which is a tower, several inches tall of shrimp and crab meat and other ingredients. It look great. You can see the full menu here.

Booth seating parallels the bar

The staff was friendly and the atmosphere warm. It seemed to have a young crowd that night, although I don’t know if that is typical. Without drinks a couple could eat for less than $40. If you add drinks and desert you could easily top $60. We’ll definitely return and if that night was any indication, we will not be alone. Give them a shot and tell them Urban Guy sent you.

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