Food & Drink: Smack it to me

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May 23, 2011
By: Carla Waldemar
Carla Waldemar

They asked for my credit card, to run a tab. What they should have done is demand my health insurance.

The Smack Shack’s culinary pinnacle is all about a heart attack on a plate (or, in this case, a little cardboard carton) — lobster, butter, more lobster, more butter. Oh, and cheese. Instead of mints with the bill, they ought to hand out Lipitor. Plus a coupon for Jenny Craig. And yes, I’ll be back for more in a New York minute.

At the Smack Shack’s permanent home, the 1029 Bar in Northeast, the décor is a bit more — um — ebullient than curbside at its celebrated food truck, whose recent seasonal renaissance required the kind of crowd control usually reserved for Kate and William (well, I exaggerate).

We snagged the very last table amid the room’s collage of undies dangling from the ceiling, winking holiday lights, beer mugs and a wall of police badges, proving many of Our Finest are equipped with impeccable dining habits. Have I forgotten anything? Oh yes — the food.

I’m a confirmed lobster addict. I eat it every chance I get, from Maine to Mexico, if someone else is paying. Trouble with the Smack Shack, however, is that it’s so cheap here that I can feast away till butter’s coming out of my ears.

We started with the arugula lobster ($12) — lobster-gone-uptown on a bouncy bed of spicy baby greens with an added kick of onion and tomato supporting mighty, meaty chunks of sweet and tender tail and claw meat. There’s uber-buttery Texas toast on the side.

Next, a steaming trencher of lobster mac ($12), creamy with melted taleggio and packed with plenty of that terrific lobster. Then, the piece de resistance — the one Bon Appetit just crowned “one of the best lobster rolls in the country” here in land-locked Minnesota. Shows what the winning combo of 1) FedEx delivery, and 2) chef John Thoma’s way with crustaceons can achieve. (Why here, in a Nordeast dive bar? “Well, we were friendly with the owner and they were serving frozen pizza,” Thoma intones.)

Drum roll for the lobster roll, $12; or $18 for twice as much of that luscious flesh, pristinely fresh and steamed with precision timing. More meat, in fact, than any one person deserves, resting on a garnish of crunchy cukes, a snip of tarragon and a swipe of lemony aioli crowding the edges of a warm hoagie bun.

Let me go on record for my restraint — well, actually, that of my accomplices. I was gearing up for an order of the lobster grilled cheese sandwich, enriched with taleggio and asparagus, for dessert. But they hustled me out to the car instead, leaving a trail of melted butter in the parking lot. Cowards!

Alas, this means I lost the opportunity to share with you the merits of the shrimp po’ boy. And the sausage po’ boy. And the bacon mac.

Smack Shack

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Dinner Wednesday–Saturday starting at 5 p.m. at the 1029 Bar, 1029 Marshall St. NE