Gulf Shores Vacation Part 1: Doc’s Seafood Shack

After a long and arduous drive to Orange Beach, Alabama, accompanied by most of the south on its way to a Labor Day vacation and saluted with a can of Guiness via transit (or most of it ….), Jay and I arrived just in time for dinner. Before leaving for our trip, I had decided I was going to eat only seafood, at least when we went out to eat. “As long as you don’t eat fried stuff, that should be pretty good for you.” Thanks Jay, but somehow, even staying away from fried food, all my seafood turned out to be pretty unhealthy ….

 First dinner stop: Doc’s Seafood Shack. The crowd standing and waiting outside signaled this place to be a local favorite, but I had a feeling my non-fried food quest was going to suffer difficulties right from the beginning. Doc’s is pretty much your local seafood dive that also attracts plenty of tourists (it’s located by a pretty busy intersection and hard to miss). After sitting down and looking at the menu, my suspicions were confirmed: a vast majority of the food on the menu was fried, and even the crab claws listed as a special on the dry-erase board were fried, much to my dismay. Basically the only thing I could get UN-fried was shrimp. Rather than going for the steamed Gulf Reds (mistake), I settled for the grilled shrimp. First, however, my father-in-law and I split a dozen oysters on the half shell, served up on a caffeteria tray. The oysters were excellent and had absolutely no unfavorable aroma, and they were gone almost too quickly to be enjoyed.

My grilled shrimp were smaller than I expected and served on two large rolls, and definitely spicey. After eating just the shrimp and my corn on the cob (just half an ear was provided), I was still hungry, so the rolls went down the hatch as well. Needless to say, I wasn’t very satisfied, and instead would have preferred a big bucket of peel-em-and-eat-em shrimp (which I had the craving for the entire trip but never got). My father in law got the fried soft-shell crab, which consisted of two deep-fried soft shell crabs atop a pile of fries. I sampled a leg, and while it was good I think my father in law said it best: “The subtleties of the soft shell crab are lost when you deep fry them rather than pan fry.” I could have eaten fried fish and it would have tasted the same, I think. My mother in law got the fried shrimp (at least one version of them), and they were better than the fried crab.

For dessert, we all split the southern classic, key lime pie. The pie was good, but I don’t know if it tasted so good only because my meal had been so disappointing, or because it was just nice and refreshing, or whatever other reason. Not the best key lime pie I’ve ever had, but certainly not the worst. Definitely as expected.

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