Seafood with a Southern flair
Where: At the entrance to CityWalk
Price Range : $$ - $$$
Hours: 11:00 a.m. to midnight
The infectious charm of the hit Tom Hanks film, Forrest Gump, suffuses the rambling, ramshackle bayou shrimp shack that greets you as you arrive at CityWalk. The wooden walls are covered with license plates, photographs from the film, little signs with pithy sayings, and flat-screen TVs that show the film over and over, without sound but with subtitles should you want to follow along. The place seems deceptively small from the outside, but it seats 500 in a series of dining rooms and two bars. Cajun music and 50s rock plays constantly and everyone seems to be in a great mood.
The servers are every bit as peppy as the soundtrack, smothering you with attention and good cheer. A signaling system at each table uses license plates to flag down passing servers should you need anything and before your meal is through it may seem like everyone in the place has stopped by to see how you’re doing or challenge you to a Forrest Gump trivia test.
Shrimp is the order of the day here. It’s everywhere on the menu and the cooks obviously know their way around this tasty little crustacean. Everything sampled here is very good indeed, but if you need guidance, the menu helpfully calls out “Bubba’s All Time Best” choices with a little Bubba Gump shrimp logo. Appetizers ($5 to $14) feature breaded popcorn shrimp and the marginally more healthy Cajun shrimp, which is sauteed in butter and served with Gump’s signature garlic bread for sopping up the sauce. Neither is too spicy. The Hush Pups, which are a good sight better than any hush puppies we’ve ever tasted, also deserve special mention.
Salads and sandwiches ($10 to $13) include a Dixie Fishwich, a Shrimp Po'Boy, and a Tossed Chicken Cobb. The entrees ($16 to $24) showcase shrimp in a dazzling variety of guises, including fried, boiled in broth, stuffed, sauced, and in a spicy New Orleans style preparation over rice. A separate list features "Forrest's Favorites," such as Bourbon Street Mahi Mahi, a Salmon (or Mahi Mahi) Veggie Skillet, and non-shrimp dishes like fried chicken and baby back ribs. Desserts ($5 to $10) include "That Chocolate Thing" and an architecturally striking strawberry shortcake.
There is, of course, a gift shop offering Gump T-shirts and souvenir glasses, but perhaps the best choice here is a container of Bubba Gump shrimp boil and the restaurant's own cookbook that will let you take the taste of Bubba Gump's home with you.
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