Neither Much Crab nor Shack

Nettie's on Union offers swell cocktails and some sophisticated dishes.

For lunch, we tried the New England clam chowder ($7), a creditable, creamy version with melting diced potatoes and chunks of smoky bacon, and a pail of "steamers" ($15) served with melted butter. They're in quotes because, though they're an excellent version of small, sweet clams steamed with aromatics including crescents of celery and parsley, they're not what New Englanders (and us) consider steamers, which are also called longnecks, softshell clams, or Ipswich clams, and have a very specific taste and texture. These, we were told, were Manila clams from Washington state. Call them steamed clams and you'll get no argument from us. We'd order them again.

Again slightly misnamed, the fish and chips ($16) were three pieces of succulent white-fleshed fish, steaming under a layer of crunchy batter and sided by wedges of roasted, not fried, potatoes (further confusion: The "chips" that come with crab cakes and other dishes are housemade potato chips). The prawn and arugula salad ($15) came with five rather small, nicely cooked tail-on shrimps spaced around the salad, which also contained sliced cucumber, frisée, dabs of Green Goddess dressing, and, as if to make up for the paucity of shellfish, a small toast topped with a generous gob of salmon salad. Feeling obliged to try something from the nonpiscine area of the menu, we ordered a barbecue brisket sandwich ($11), which came with the housemade chips on a big glossy bakery bun, but we found its sauce way too sweet.

Steamers in the pail are one  shacklike indicator.
Jen Siska
Steamers in the pail are one shacklike indicator.

Location Info


Nettie's Crab Shack

2032 Union
San Francisco, CA 94123

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Marina/ Cow Hollow


Nettie's Crab Shack
409-0300, Lunch Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; dinner Sunday-Thursday 5-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5-11 p.m.; brunch Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Reservations accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: street, difficult. Muni: 22, 41, 45. Noise level: low to moderate.
2032 Union (at Webster)

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Not way too sweet was the seductive chocolate Guinness bread pudding ($7), which came to the table under a mantle of bubbling caramel sauce. One of us savored it between sips of an excellent double espresso, the other with coffee elegantly served in a French press pot. There were certain advantages to dining in a fish house that was not quite a crab shack.

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