Shuttles Restaurant-North Merritt Island-4.25 Stars
When a place has been open in the same location for over 35 years two questions come to mind. First, What are they doing correctly and Second, how have I missed this place as I grew up on the Space Coast? One was about to be answered and the other rectified as low and behold if Shuttles Restaurant and Bar didn't come up on my random greasy spoon generator. Sandwiched between Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on one side and Port St. John on the other, Shuttles has been on the same spot for 35 years.
I have always found themed restaurants to be a hoot. They seem to turn out one of two ways, they are either done with decorum and subtly or they are garish and over the top. Running with a Space Flight theme, it would have been easy to go over the top here on the Space Coast, but I am happy to report that the interior of Shuttles is quaint, classy and well done. Having been lead to a table in the ample seating area and handed our menus, we began to read them in earnest. The menu claimed that everything was fresh and made to order and that the fries were hand cut. Just as we were reaching our conclusions we were approached by an exceedingly charming and very attentive server named Tammi. Tammi assured me that the menu was telling the truth and pointed out that it was a limited menu so that they could concentrate on making the best burgers and sides they could. Taking her at her word I placed an order for a Patty Melt with Onion Rings and a Meatball sub with a side of hand cut fries.
The Patty Melt was a whole 1/2 pound of ground beef with Swiss cheese and onions all melted together and slathered on top of some of the best-grilled rye I have ever had. Thankfully, Tammi knew what she was talking about when she said everything was fresh and made to order. The burger was obviously hand formed as the onions were certainly hand cut from fresh onions, no frozen pre-chopped garbage here. No, Sir. This was the real deal. Sadly, the onion rings were not made fresh and were of the frozen crappy Sysco variety (Sysco rep sitting right next to me). The meatballs, thankfully, were not from Sysco and were made fresh in the kitchen and tasted extraordinary, the marinara sauce was homemade and out of this world while the bread was the coup de grâce of this amazing sandwich. And then there were the fries. As advertised they were definitely hand cut from fresh potatoes and deep fried to order as they were some of the most amazing fries I have so far had while on my gastronomical quest of reviewing every restaurant in the Tri-County area that comprises the Florida Space Coast.
Either my reputation is beginning to proceed me, or the Chef comes out to ever diner as some do in the fine dining places I have visited. Either way, as we were wrapping up our meal the Chef came out of the kitchen to see how we liked everything. I said, with a nod towards the Sysco Rep, "Everything was fantastic, except for the onion rings." He smiled and said that they were the only thing he buys from them.
Everything else here is legit. He then had a sample of their homemade Caesar salad for my enjoyment. Like all the rest made in his kitchen, the Caesar salad was a delight to the palate and ensured my return.
The Big Boy says, "Whether visiting the island or between lift offs, get your fill at Shuttles Restaurant and Bar. You can't go wrong, though I would avoid the onion rings until they are made in house!"