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The Shack

324 Flanders Road, East Lyme, CT - (860) 739-8898
Posted By Michael Stern on 8/30/2008 6:16:00 PM
If you are traveling along I-95 west of New London and hanker for stick-to-the-ribs food at wallet-friendly prices, get off the road at Exit 74. Just a few yards from the exit ramp is The Shack, a diner that adjoins a golf driving range.

Accommodations are old-shoe cozy: wood paneled walls, low ceiling, bare formica tables and a short counter with a view of the semi-open kitchen. One large blackboard lists the day's desserts -- an assortment of a dozen pies and puddings -- and a smaller one lists the lunch specials. The day we stopped in, the former included apple crumb, Graham cracker, Boston cream, pumpkin, and coconut cream pies plus rice, Grape-Nuts, and bread pudding; on the latter were all-you-can-eat pasta, macaroni & cheese, and shepherd's pie. The regular printed menu includes liver and onions, meat loaf, and kielbasa.

We ordered that shepherd's pie, and wow!, it sure was a big hunk of food. The size of a brick, it was layers of chunky ground beef with potatoes and vegetables under a mantle of gravy. We had arrived with good appetites; midway through this meal, they were long gone!

We also enjoyed the workmanlike clam chowder -- creamy soup with bits of tender clam -- and beef chili, which is dense and meaty, albeit served no-frills. (What, no cheese to sprinkle on top? No raw onions?)

Good as lunch may be, the big meal of the day at The Shack is breakfast. Omelets are big and lovely; the hash browns that accompany eggs are four-star; and the coffee never stops coming.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Chili at The Shack is traditional New England style: beefy with a few beans. This is a small serving.
"Chili at The Shack is traditional New England style: beefy with a few beans. This is a small serving."
Michael Stern





Today's soup of the day was macaroni and vegetable, packed with pasta and carrots and celery.
"Today's soup of the day was macaroni and vegetable, packed with pasta and carrots and celery."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


The Shack's Shepherd's pie is a stratified block of chunky ground beef, potatoes, peas, and corn, all topped with dark amber gravy. This is one mighty meal!
"The Shack's Shepherd's pie is a stratified block of chunky ground beef, potatoes, peas, and corn, all topped with dark amber gravy. This is one mighty meal!"
Michael Stern


A blackboard in the dining room lists the day's desserts. Among the dozen-plus choices is this cool banana cream pie.
"A blackboard in the dining room lists the day's desserts. Among the dozen-plus choices is this cool banana cream pie."
Michael Stern


Unheard-of in other parts of the country, Grape-Nuts pudding is found on many downeast diner menus. The cereal softens into sweet veins of flavorful grain among the custard.
"Unheard-of in other parts of the country, Grape-Nuts pudding is found on many downeast diner menus. The cereal softens into sweet veins of flavorful grain among the custard."
Michael Stern


Just baked custard on a homemade crust: the nutmeg-fragrant custard pie would be even better at room temperature.  If you're going to have pie for dessert ask them to take your slice out as soon as you sit down.
"Just baked custard on a homemade crust: the nutmeg-fragrant custard pie would be even better at room temperature. If you're going to have pie for dessert ask them to take your slice out as soon as you sit down."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


The Shack's baked mac and cheese is a real tour de force; the finest version we've had outside our own home.
"The Shack's baked mac and cheese is a real tour de force; the finest version we've had outside our own home."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Creamy and with plenty of tender pieces of clam, this cup of chowder is a Yankee tradition.
"Creamy and with plenty of tender pieces of clam, this cup of chowder is a Yankee tradition."
Michael Stern


On a post adjacent to the daily specials is this nostalgic sign for coffee. At the counter nearby, breakfasters enjoy multiple cups.
"On a post adjacent to the daily specials is this nostalgic sign for coffee. At the counter nearby, breakfasters enjoy multiple cups."
Michael Stern


They are now located in Brooks Plaza on Flanders Road, about 1/8th mile from the old location.
"They are now located in Brooks Plaza on Flanders Road, about 1/8th mile from the old location."
Karen Hunter Bowen



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