Excellent Old-Style Seafood House
Shaw's, which is just down the street from the Billy Goat Tavern, has a dual personality. The main restaurant brims with old-fashioned ambience: muted lighting, wood accents, etc., and is plenty respectable for a dinner with mom or grandma. A power meal with the boss would work here, too. But if mom, grandma, or your boss is a drinker or cusser, then you want the other half of Shaw's, which is the adjacent oyster bar. Most recently, I ate at the oyster bar, which I prefer for the relaxed atmosphere. (The patrons tend to be more relaxed and convivial as well.) I went late (9pm), so I can't attest to the crowds. The bartender was solicitous to a fault. In addition to all the conventional fresh seafood in this place (the daily catch -- both fish and shellfish -- is posted on the wall), they have sushi, which is like having a second menu of appetizers. I had a dozen oysters and some sushi, chased with a beer (OK two) and a shot. The bartender helped me select oysters that I like (sweet and plump, not too briny) which on this occasion were the PEIs from Canada. They were delicious, though I was a bit disappointed with their size -- I used to think this was a seasonal thing, but an oysterman in Seattle once explained to me that it has more to do with who the restaurant buys its oysters from. I also like an oyster bar that gives a baker's dozen; this one does not. The sushi was very good and fresh, and the rice had the right su mixture (the sweet vinegar mixture that is folded into the rice). Drinks are pricey, but nothing unexpected for an old-time downtown seafood house. Good place for a date. If you want a more down-to-earth seafood house, head for the Half Shell on Diversey.