Food & Drink » Restaurant Review

Family Favorite

A West End neighborhood spot gets some new training.

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Blake’s widened experience is reflected in a few menu changes, such as an appetizer of fried shrimp spring rolls ($9) and an entrée of shrimp risotto ($15). But for the most part, Blake returned with ideas to merely fine tune the existing menu that has attracted diners over the decade.

A perfect way to begin a dinner at this family-operated restaurant — Blake’s brother Kirk is a co-owner; their mom runs the office, and younger brother Ross is assistant manger — is with the crab and roasted red-pepper bisque ($6 bowl, $4 cup). This dish, brimming with lump crabmeat in a velvety sauce, ranks as one of the best starters I’ve ever tasted in a Richmond restaurant. And I’m not alone on this — on a typical night, Shackleford’s serves about 18 quarts of it.

Another excellent appetizer, big enough for two, is crab Remmick ($9), a mildly spiced dip with a nicely browned crust that comes in a boat-shaped dish with sliced, seasoned baguettes.

Among the entrees, the seafood dishes stand out, not surprising for a place with a raw bar that features The Big Daddy ($39), nine oysters, nine clams, and half a pound each of Alaskan king crab legs and shrimp.

On one visit, my favorite was Atlantic salmon Oscar ($18), a variation of a veal dish named for a Swedish king, topped with mounds of crabmeat. Another winner was seafood au gratin ($15), which combines ample bites of shrimp, scallops, crab and artichoke hearts in a Parmesan-cheese casserole. Two Chesapeake crab cakes ($22) were amply sized balls filled with plenty of shredded, sautéed lump meat and just enough breading.

A pair of pork medallions ($14) was pan-seared, layered with an apple-rosemary-sage stuffing and covered with an apple brown-sugar glaze, the later of which was a bit too heavy for my taste. Mashed potatoes, which came with three of the above dishes, were disappointing on each of two visits. Whipped and sprinkled with chives, they ought to be easy enough to get right, but the first time they were too dry, and the second time they were moist enough, but too lumpy.

Lighter fare includes a couple of entrée-sized salads with Asian influences. Pacific Rim salads, with Mandarin oranges and pineapple brushed with a teriyaki ginger sauce, come with a choice of mahi-mahi ($10) or marinated chicken ($9). An Asian chicken salad ($8) includes white rice, water chestnuts and Mandarin oranges tossed in a soy vinaigrette.

Shackleford’s desserts ($5) are made on the premises, and like all the food, are prepared under the supervision of executive chef Ren Zehmer (the Poore brothers divide their time between the kitchens and dining rooms at their two locations).

You’ll leave with a warm feeling, if not a slight buzz, after devouring the moist Southern gingerbread, served warm and … la mode with a generous dash of lemon whiskey sauce with whipped cream. Likewise, the crŠme br–lée, made with white chocolate and Bailey’s Irish Cream, also can serve as a mild after-dinner libation. Other dessert choices include Oreo cheesecake, cinnamon-raisin-pecan bread pudding, key lime pie and a flourless chocolate torte.

Shackleford’s not only is a family-owned operation, but as a good neighborhood place should be, it’s a family friendly one, reasonably priced and tastefully decorated. Sunday nights, children under 14 eat for half-price, and there is a children’s menu ($3 to $5) every day. For the grown-ups, on Monday nights, the shrimp dishes are half-priced, as burgers are on Tuesdays. S

Don Baker has been reviewing restaurants since he retired as Richmond bureau chief for The Washington Post in ’99. He has worked as a waiter and maitre-d’ and has a dining Web site, diningpro.com. He previously reviewed restaurants for Style in the late ’80s.

Shackleford’s ($$$)
10496 Ridgefield Parkway
Gleneagles Shopping Center
741-9900
www.shacklefords.com
Lunch and dinner daily .
Dinner Sunday from 5 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.; Monday-Thursday until 10 p.m.; and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Lunch: Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; limited menu from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. Brunch: Sunday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.



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