Shanty on the Shore (Burlington, VT)

One of the obligatory parts of living in New England is that you’ve occasionally got to give into the urge, and go find a seafood restaurant and get one of the hallmark dishes of New England summer, such as a lobster roll or fried clams. And while the options are better on the coast, you don’t necessarily need to travel that far. As we mentioned in our Wit & Grit review, several times this summer we headed up to Burlington, and on our last trip up there, we decided to visit Vermont’s “inland coast”, going to Shanty on the Shore, on the shores of Lake Champlain just south of downtown Burlington.

The Shanty has exactly the sort of interior you expect from a “seafood joint”; several moderately size indoor dining rooms and a nice outdoor terrace, decorated with a mix of nets, nautical bric-a-brac, old sailing maps, and a lot of older black and white pictures of the Burlington area. If it was a sunny day, an outdoor seat would be good, but being a summer weekend in 2023, it was gray and drizzly, so we opted for indoor seating.

The Shanty has a pretty good beer list, including local favorites Switchback, Fiddlehead, and 14th Star (hey, this is Vermont; I now worry about any place that can’t rustle up at least two different local VT IPAs on request), but they’ve also got a list of signature cocktails. Most of these are your basic house cocktails, but you shouldn’t miss the Shoreside Mary. Served up as classic Bloody Mary with a surprisingly bold and flavorful house mix, they top it either with an elaborate garnish including three nicely boiled jumbo shrimp, or as a “surf and turf” with a Vermont Smoke and Cure bacon stick added. I was quite happy with my shrimp version; the mix was good, the garnish fresh, and the shrimp perfectly cooked.

Indeed, I liked the shrimp enough to also order up a Shrimp Cocktail. Served up as five jumbo shrimp plated in classic style over ice with a nicely bold and horseradish-y cocktail sauce, I really enjoyed these (if anything, “horseradish” was the one flavor note I was missing in the otherwise excellent Shoreside Mary. Again, a solid winner.

But I was here for the New England classic Lobster Roll. The version at Shanty didn’t disappoint: a nice generous portion of lobster salad, heavy on the claw meat, lightly dress with a few spices, a bit of celery, and a bit of mayo, this was a very lobster-forward version, with perfectly cooked lobster. Adding in some lettuce and a tomato slice on a slightly oversized but still proper “New England Style” hot dog bun, and this was a great lobster roll, one of the best I had in 2023. Finishing off with some rather good curly fries, and this was a great meal.

Others at our table weren’t craving lobster, but stayed with the seafood theme, getting the Fish and Chips. The big takeaway here is that, like most of my favorite fish and chips places in the US, they opt for haddock over cod, with a nicely cooked half pound slab; nicely flaky, still tender, and with the batter crisp and light, but well-adhered. Adding in a better-than-average house-made tartar sauce, and this was also a winner.

And, like any good seafood restaurant, you’ve got to have a few items satisfying those that aren’t craving seafood, and the Shanty has some good options here as well. One of our group ordered their chicken Parmesan, and they weren’t phoning it in with this dish; this was a nicely-executed Parm, with a nice bed of not-overcooked linguini, a very rich and flavorful red sauce, a nicely-cooked and ample boneless chicken breast, and, one of the most important items for a good Parm, a nice layer of Asiago and Mozzarella that was broiled just to the point of starting to crisp up. Nicely done, so those not going for the seafood shouldn’t feel left out.

Despite the relatively large portion of my lobster roll, I was still tempted by dessert, and gave into one of my favorite dessert indulgences, Key Lime pie. Nothing fancy here, just the classic execution with a firm lime-heavy custard, a graham cracker crust, and whipped cream, but they’ve got the taste and texture nailed. A good overall rendition of a classic stalwart dessert.

Overall, I really liked the Shanty; we were craving seafood, and good seafood we got. The staff and ambiance are pleasant, the views great, and the menu and drinks broad enough to satisfy everyone. Definitely a good spot to check out, especially in the summer.

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