Shay’s Chop House is a busy, boisterous place, crowded with families and bar patrons. Chef Rick Shay personally seated us, popping around between tables, the entryway and the kitchen to keep everything running smoothly. Shay's casual decor is masculine and outdoorsy with vinyl chairs and simply covered, no-nonsense tables. Portage Lake is visible through windows along one wall.
The menu is heavy on fried fare and comfort foods; most of the seafood is breaded, covered in cheese or baked into a casserole. Almost all of the appetizers are fried, and red meat is well-represented among the entree choices. We started with a fried green bean appetizer ($6) that tasted like it had been left in the fryer a bit too long, but the dipping sauce was delicious. A house salad proved crunchy and fresh on an icy cold plate with a light, tasty vinaigrette.
The signature Parmesan whitefish ($21) was impressive, although the carrots and wild rice that accompanied it were merely OK. Freshly caught from Lake Superior, the fish was topped with a gooey melted cheese blend with surprisingly flavorful results. We also enjoyed the seafood mac and cheese casserole ($16), thick with lobster, cod and crab mixed with bowtie pasta, then baked in cheese, tossed with béchamel sauce and topped with buttery Parmesan breadcrumbs. It arrived on a plate straight out of the oven, too hot to touch. Comforting and incredibly rich, and the portion size was generous enough to share. Overall, we found Shay’s a pleasing option for delicious food at a good value.