Thursday, April 27, 2006


Springtime at the Summer Shack

When Frank left the Summer Shack, the eponymous sports bar became part of the Restaurant. Vinny has taken over and created a convivial atmosphere, as regulars come in to enjoy fresh oysters and a pint of beer. He greets every guest by name and always knows what they’re drinking. He also chatted with me, no doubt the next time I return, I will be a regular welcomed with a friendly “hello.”

The Summer Shack is not a restaurant I typically dine at alone, but on this night, as I cozied up to the bar to eat a clam roll and watch the Red Sox game, I felt quite at home. I was pleased to discover that the spinach salad had returned to the menu – fresh baby spinach with Maine shrimp, hard boiled egg, radish and bacon. It is the perfectly, balanced meal. And with the doughy, soft rolls, dinner is complete. Of course, a trip to the Summer Shack is not complete without some fried seafood or a lobster roll. So I ordered the clam roll. The bellies are full and sweet, the strips are just slightly chewy, and with a squeeze of lemon they are still crispy and balanced with flavor. The bread is superfluous, though it is perfectly toasted with a slight glisten of butter.

A few stools down were two gentlemen enjoying several dozen raw oysters, a selection from the bountiful offerings: Wellfleet (harvested by Pat Woodbury of Pat’s Clams fame), Malpeque and Kumomotos (a small intensely flavored oyster, briny and sweet). They were discussing production for the next few episodes of This Old House for PBS. They seemed engaged in conversation and work, but also adventurous eaters that might enjoy a Random App of Kindness. To them, I sent the Crispy Pan Fried Skate with Soba Noodle Salad. I had wanted this dish for myself, but with no one to share with, and the yen for fried clams, I decided to send to the gentlemen instead. Vinny was so good; he announced when he delivered the dish “You have just received a Random App of Kindness.” The recipients queried if it had come from the kitchen, but when the realized it came from a diner, they just enjoyed and did not ask more questions.

I would have been curious to learn more about their work, but they seemed busy and not wanting intrusion. So I let them enjoy their gift while I continued to watch the game.

As I continue to send Random Apps with New friends, the debate has surfaced as to whether the sender should acknowledge the gift. Some say no, as this takes away from the randomness and the spirit of giving. Others say yes, it’s a lovely way to connect with strangers and meet new people in a non-threatening way. What do you think?

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