Shucked is an oyster bar. Take a minute to erase your expectations of what that may look like. While there are a few tables with champagne glasses, calamari and cheese platters, there are more tables with burgers, fried chicken and cocktails. And patrons are enjoying a soundtrack of Biggie Smalls. The mix comes from Luke and Jill Collins. Luke has followed the recent trend of dropping out of the world of fine dining (Luke Benchmark in Sylvania) to serve oysters and what he calls “posh takeaway”.
“This is a bit more fun,” he says. “It’s your takeaway staple items done at restaurant standard.” The Shucked burger is the most impressive of the bunch: soft, juicy, slightly sour and savoury. “We're mincing and smoking our meat for our burger patties. I've got three different cuts of meat in there, chuck, rump and cold-smoked brisket,” Luke says. The fried chicken, marinated in buttermilk, coconut cream and lemongrass, is absolutely enormous and true to Collins’ nickname for it: “KFC on acid”. “The batter's got heaps more flavour, it’s heaps crunchier, and because it’s free-range chicken, it’s juicy as soon as you bite into it.”
The rest of the small menu is finished by some dill- and citrus-battered fish and chips, kiwifruit-marinated calamari, and of course, the oysters. While it’s difficult to justify an order of oysters done any way other than naturally, or with a bit of lemon, it’s worth trying some of Collins’ more unusual ideas. The oysters topped with a lemongrass granita, with a perfect balance of sweet, tart and sharp, is particularly impressive. The blue-cheese mornay on the other hand, is as delightfully unsubtle as anything covered in cheese.
Jill is in charge of the equally short drinks menu. Luke says she’s working on devising her own cocktails, but until then, the venue will serve classics such as the velvety, pale-violet Aviation, and a zesty Margarita. That’s what most of the young couples are sipping; there’s a different audience enjoying their oysters with flutes of Veuve Clicquot.
It’s instantly obvious, in such a uniquely narrow space, just how many different types of people are at Shucked. The best summary of the whole place is the portraiture on the restaurant’s wooden panelled walls – George Benson, Amy Winehouse, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra and Biggie Smalls. The plan is to bring in live music. What kind we ask? Hip-hop on Fridays and Saturdays but, jazz on Sundays.
Shucked Oyster Bar
2/45 Gerrale Street, Cronulla
0416 588 450
Tue to Sun 12pm–11pm