The Shrimp Basket
301 Gulf Shores Parkway
Gulf Shores, Alabama
We blew into town with Tropical Storm Lee, and after portaging our stuff into our condo, went off in search of dinner. It being The Coast, we wanted seafood, and this is the place we chose. It's one of 11 locations this local chain has along this stretch of coastline.
It was pretty late in the evening, which might explain why the place was filthy. The table had been bused, but the floor was littered with napkins and bits of food. The dining room wasn't particularly large; certainly not large enough for the number of tables and chairs stuffed into it. The management may have taken this into consideration in their hiring policies, as the employees were, without exception, lithe young women who would look as much at home in bathing suits on the nearby beach as in a grease-pit seafood house. Management may or may not have standards of physical appearance, but certainly it has standards of competence, and these young women knew their jobs and did them with easy competence and gracious hospitality. They were quick to accomodate a request for something not on the menu; and they did a good job sliding unobtrusively behind the chairs of some of the restaurant's grotesquely fat patrons. This place seems quite popular among those who have to buy two seats on a Southwest Airlines jet.
There's also an outdoor dining area, but even if there were not a tropical storm passing through town, I don't think it'd be the place to dine. Laying aside the shredded awning (which appeared to have been shredded during some previous big wind event) the proximity of the busiest street in town suggests that it's no place for people without earbuds to enjoy themselves.
The food was just the tiniest bit above average for this sort of restaurant. The seafood is available grilled or steamed, but clearly it's all about the fried food. At our table we had a grilled chicken platter, billed as two chicken breasts but consisting of surprisingly greasy chicken tenders; a fried clam po-boy, which was good; and mahi tacos, which were also good; the chicken platter and the tacos were both served with small, tasty, garlicky hushpuppies. I had the fried oyster po-boy, which was nicely dressed and loaded with oysters that were coated in a tasty batter and fried just right. I had a side order of new potatoes, which were also well-cooked, although coated in what seemed to be a cheap flavoured butter substitute (which may have been the same stuff that made the chicken seem greasy).