Much in line with Dubai, the country in which it originated in 2001, Shakespeare & Co., has a penchant for excess. The decor is exuberant, the fabric-bound menu is 20 pages long, the portions generous and flavors rich. Fortunately, the price point is such that a patron can enjoy all of these things without breaking the bank.
On a recent visit, a guest and I opted to sit in the bar area – it has a slightly more casual (and gender neutral) ambience than the main dining room, which is decked out with plush velvet couches, pillows and curtains and ornate light fixtures. Both rooms maintain the historic integrity of the original building, with exposed brick walls and rustic hardwood accents, while also giving a nod to lush, Victorian inspiration. Many of the sitting areas consist of couches arranged around a table that more closely resembles a coffee table than a traditional dining table, which can be either cozy or awkward depending on what level of back support versus relaxation you are looking for.
In the spirit of indulgence, we decided to try a hardy variety of items, starting with the Halloumi Saj ($7), a Mediterranean-inspired flatbread filled with grilled brined cheese, and the Piri Piri shrimp ($11), grilled and served in a garlic chili-herb butter sauce. Per our server’s recommendation, we added a serving of tomato soup ($6) to accompany the Saj. The Saj was the highlight of this course to me, and while the tomato soup was a nice addition, it was somewhat uninspired, and the Saj was so tasty on its own that I felt it didn’t need the extra flavor kick. Halloumi is not a cheese I was familiar with prior to this dish; it has a texture similar to mozzarella but a bit more dense and therefore able to withstand grilling while still maintaining a thick, chewy consistency. Other appetizing flatbread options on the menu include Za’atar Labneh (with spices and yogurt, $6), Sausage and Cheese ($7) and Mediterranean (with sun-dried tomatoes, halloumi and cheddar cheeses, arugula, olives, and tomatoes, $10). However, I so enjoyed the pure halloumi flavor that I doubt I will venture away from that option in any future trips.
Dinner options consume five pages of the menu, if you count burgers and sandwiches. We opted to try the Baby Back Ribs ($20 for a half rack), which, with a bourbon barbecue sauce, cheddar grits and grilled vegetables, seemed like a plate that would fit in with our decadence theme. We also ordered the Goat Cheese & Herbs Pizza ($11). With a thin, crispy crust, herbed goat cheese, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula, the pizza was a winner, although it didn’t quite live up to the blue cheese and spinach pizza (with cranberries, mozzarella and roasted pine nuts, $11) that I had tried on a previous visit. Other pizza options include cheese, pepperoni and vegetarian, all ranging from $10-12; with eight small slices, the pizza is enough for a light meal for two.
The ribs flaked off the bone and the sauce, a nice blend of sweet and smoky. While the grits were maybe not as cheesy as I would have hoped, they were still quite good and a nice complement to the ribs.
Shakespeare & Co. is open for lunch and breakfast as well. Our total, which included a couple of adult beverages for each of us, came to $78 prior to tip.
Shakespeare & Co.
367 W. Short St.
7:30 a.m. - 11 p.m. Sun. - Wed.
7:30 a.m. - 12 a.m. Thurs. - Sat.