The appeal of the suburban strip mall architecture is elusive. No matter what part of the country you're exploring, inevitably the beige monoliths stretch between urban centers. The only difference is the logo on the outside.
Eat Shop replaces a Joe Senser's in one of these buildings, but this independent restaurant finds a way to stand out among the chains, while still fitting like a missing puzzle piece into the neighborhood.
Chic couches make for luxurious outdoor lounging around a couple of fire pits. A small TV in the entryway offers entertainment, if ever there's a wait for seating. Inside, the restaurant is beautiful and wide open. The breezy bar is a great place to catch a game (or catch up on the Food Network, as one server offered to switch the channel for me, since I clearly don't know an Ochocinco from a 49'er.) While the room is all open space, there are enough large booths and clever decor that it didn't feel overly loud or like the people at the next table were part of the dinner conversation.
The menu isn't unfamiliar, but instead of the usual freezer-bag-to-fryer heat and eating, chef Jeffery Anderson and his staff are making this stuff from scratch. The calamari ($11) reminded me of those served at Figlio when it was good: tender little squid in a light batter, served with a frothy, freshly made sauce. Zesty and crisp, they're hard to resist.
The duck salad ($10) is packed with succulent meat on a pile of crisp, fresh greens spiked with tart pear slices and a creamy egg, all tossed with a smoky, bright vinaigrette.
Another stunner was the Kitchen Sink burger ($11). There's no way to walk away from this bad boy hungry. Topped with a fried egg, hot sauce, and pickled peppers it's a big, fat flavor bomb. It's served with Eat Shop's delicious fries.
Speaking of the fries, the cheddar cheese fries ($6) topped with bacon and house-made giardiniera (pickled pepper relish) is worth abandoning any diet for.
Not every dish was an unequivicoal hit, but Eat Shop is still working on the menu and listening to their customers. A dismal shrimp and grits has already been removed and may or may not return. The kids menu is also being developed, with the restaurant hoping to strike that magical parental balance of healthy, interesting, but still something kids will happily eat.
Eat Shop Kitchen/Bar
16605 County Rd. 24,Plymouth