Picture this – it’s 1950s in America; the diners are thriving with milkshakes, Rockabilly is strong, and Elvis is blaring out of every sound system on the block.
It was the America you see in all the old movies, the America you thought of as a child as soon as you saw that star spangled banner, and a place you’d happily love to go.
Now, fast forward 68 years to 2018 and imagine such a diner here in Ellenton….. A diner ready to take you back in time.
The building is newer, the actual diner isn’t from way back when, but the fun decor and attention to detail at Shake Station will have wool pulled so far down over your eyes that you’ll be the biggest believer around.
After turning off of US highway 301 your eyes are instantly drawn towards a statue of what I presume is a young chef, holding out his welcoming hands on top of a bright red building known as the Shake Station. I’m almost sure you could see him from a mile away if you tried, and I absolutely love it!
Before my visit here today I had no prior knowledge of its existence, and boy am I glad I checked it out.
The outside is set beautifully with a decking area full of seats that would go nicely with a pitcher of beer, that famous Florida sunshine, and the delicious food I was about to eat.
Another perk to the outside, but not the last, are outside service windows. Simply pull up, grab a bench, place your order at the order window, and then grab it from your pick up point! No need to even set foot in the restaurant if you don’t want to, and a great way to have your sidekick pup come along for the ride. How fantastic, and did I mention the appealing artwork all across the front of the building? No? Well, you definitely have to go and check it out for yourself.
The last thing that pulled my attention on the outside of the restaurant was the sharing library where you’re encouraged to take a book in exchange for another. An idea that I believe more places need to incorporate.
And now, come with me as we step out of the heat and into the AC where the smells are guaranteed to pack a punch right at the threshold, and the staff so friendly you’ll feel right at home.
Upon entering I noticed straight away all of the black and white checkers lining the bar and back wall; it screamed 50s and I couldn’t get enough. That smell of greasy diner food, heaps of cheese, and coffee all blended into one hit immediately and I knew I was onto something brilliant.
The decor is definitely a feast for the eyes. Everywhere your eyes travel they find something new; whether it be the gum-ball machine, the Checkered tiles, the wall paintings to really set the mood, or the cute booths for you and your loved ones to sit at.
The menu is vast, and if you’re not in the mood for a good ol’ American burger then why not choose from a sandwich, salad, tacos, fish and chips, multiple seafood dishes, shakes, scrumptious desserts, appetizers, wraps, light choices, or even hot dogs; they have it all and I’m not kidding. Take a look for yourself.
For starters I ordered the fried green tomatoes. Up until this previous Saturday I had never been exposed to such a delight. Yep, you heard me….. I tried my first ever deep fried green tomato 2 days ago, and it blew my mind. Of course I had to have them now!
To the eye they didn’t look like much, and maybe you’d look and turn up your nose in snobbish rejection, but let me tell you that it’s not always what’s on the outside that counts…. because if you turned away from these beautiful saucers then you’d have missed out on a tastebud explosion. These bad boys where so flavorful and juicy that I destroyed them in minutes. That crisp crunch of the batter was music to my ears, and the tomato so fresh that the juices ran out of it, only to be mixed in with the ranch dressing that I’d dunked it in only seconds before. The ranch was also a new one for me with this dish and a good one at that. I’m sure all across America people are laughing at me reading this review, at my sheer amazement of a these heavenly tomatoes, but believe me… for this awkward British gal it’s all pretty exciting.
After eating 3 fried green tomatoes, and my husband having two (including the one he snagged before my picture) I was feeling pretty happy about my little old self. I was almost worried at just how much stomach space I had left for the tacos, but kept up my positive thinking, and told myself that my Mother had not raised a quitter. I was here. I was ready, and lord help me I was going to finish what I’d started. Little did I know I’d feel slightly disgruntled about my decision later as I sat in the passenger seat of the car with the taco sweats – each inhale of breath painful in the most beautiful way.
As I pondered my life decisions for what felt like two seconds, deciding that I’d made nothing but fantastic choices regardless of my waist band, the tacos arrived in all their glory.
Oh boy. The lime coleslaw looked divine, the Basa was blackened to perfection, and the tomato and cheese added color to really make it pop and shout ‘Eat me’.
I will be 100% honest with you and tell you that I had no idea what Basa was, so I did the most 2018 thing I could do and googled it. It turns out Basa is a kind of catfish which originates from Vietnam. From my quick little flip through the tinter-webs I discovered that back in 1994 Vietnam resumed trading with the US and seafood importers started sending over the fillets. My version is loose, and I’m sure there are people out there with a much better explanation, and there’s more to the story, but it was good enough for me, and I’m sure now that they probably farm the fish over here too…. but that’s just my assumption.
Regardless of where that little fella swam before he made it to my plate, he was absolutely delicious, and I’m so thankful for the mouthwatering tacos he eventually came to be.
All in all I had such a great time at the Shake Station.
If an appetizer and main dish didn’t fill you up, then I’m sure you can find something from the yummy board of treats on the far wall to absolutely annihilate yourself into food oblivion, but for this time I took a pass and left stuffed to the brim on tomatoes and tacos. How beautiful.
If you ever find yourself in Ellenton, Florida and your stomach is grumbling for a feed then I suggest you look no further.
This place really does have it all, and who doesn’t want to go back in time to the 50s?
Thanks Shake Station; we will most definitely be back.
Until next time,