Drinks Rule at The Love Shack (But Don't Forget Hawaiian Small Plates)
It may not have a tin roof, rusted, but The Love Shack is a little place where you can get together. The Polynesian theme, mixed with a few lighthearted references to the namesake B-52s song, creates a warm, inviting space with accents of surfboards, tiki torches and tropical plants.
The Love Shack
106 Seeboth St.
Handicapped access: Yes
Abbreviations: GF, OD, CC, FB
Hours: M-Th 4-11 p.m., F 4 p.m.-12 a.m., Sa-Su 2 p.m.-1 a.m.
The bar is relatively small and narrow, lending an intimate feel. A lighting feature that runs from the south wall and up onto the ceiling produces a mild red glow over the entire space. The patio is long and narrow as well, elevated a few steps above the boat docks for a better view of the Water Street Bridge going up and down. Dining tables are available outside for smaller parties, but large groups can choose one of the cozy couch arrangements.
Staying true to tiki bars everywhere, the main focus is the drinks. There are some classic preparations, but most are riffs on traditional retro recipes. All of them, whether you’re ordering a single cocktail or one of the group cocktails that serves multiple people, come in a kitschy container with little paper fruits on the straws, flamingo stirrers and other party doo-dads. The drink menu shows you what glass it comes in, in case you prefer to drink out of a shark’s jaws instead of a pirate’s head. It’s an interesting conversation starter, but the drink sizes vary depending on the glass.
Rum is the liquor of choice in most of the creations, with Cruzan and Goslings called out prominently on the menu. If you want something a little higher quality, you’ll have to order it separately, or head to The Rhum Bar, a lofted lounge area, upstairs, where they have a separate drink menu. All juices and syrups are squeezed or made in house, with the exception of things like passion fruit juice. The Pain Killer ($9) was a creamy, sweet classic with pineapple, orange and nutmeg. The strong House Grog ($9), however, was quite heavy on the bitters.
On the food side of things is a menu of about a dozen different small plates, all Polynesia-inspired. Three dishes contain Spam, the oft-maligned but much-loved-in-Hawaii canned meat product. Spam Musubi ($10) is a classic Hawaiian treat where a slice of seared Spam is used in place of fish in a sushi-like dish wrapped in nori. Scallops and Spam ($16) pairs two seared scallops with bits of crispy Spam on a bed of arugula with mango relish and chili glaze.
Beef Skewers ($11) have been the most popular dish since The Love Shack opened in late June, according to our server, and I can see why. Chunks of beef were skewered with shallot, glazed with soy, and served over chive rice with more mango relish. The beef, while cooked well done, was still tender and had a nice char, along with the shallots. The marinade and soy glaze was similar to a tangy teriyaki. You can get the same beef in a Steam Bunz ($12) dish, but the very sweet pickled carrots and cucumber slice would go much better with the pork option.
Seafood plays a large part on the menu, in the form of Shrimp Skewers ($13) with pineapple, Salmon Poke ($12) with crispy salmon skin and the aforementioned scallops. Tuna Tartar ($14) came mixed with jalapeño, ginger and mango, and capped with a shingle of sliced avocado. It was mild and served only slightly chilled. Commercially made blue corn tortilla chips on the side were welcome additions, if for no other reason than to provide some saltiness.
A small menu of $5 bar snacks is available for munching, including banana chips, wasabi peas, and mixed nuts. For dessert—if another creamy, sweet cocktail isn't enough—there's even Hawaiian shaved ice ($5) in a variety of flavors. Snacks like these make sense for a spot where most of their business will come from packs of friends sipping on Instagram-worthy drinks, and not from customers looking for a more traditional entrée-focused meal.