In the world of seafood, the lobster roll is like a gifted athlete — it’s so naturally good that it doesn’t have to try hard to beat most competitors. The humble shrimp roll, by comparison, isn’t perceived as a high-flyer. But, with extra attention to detail and a good coach (chef), the scrappy shrimp roll can prevail against any lobster roll out there.
That’s the case with the shrimp roll at Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits at Krog Street Market. First off, you get more than just a shrimp roll, though the roll is certainly the star. For $22, the price of a lower-end lobster roll by itself, you get a full meal that includes hush puppies, fries and a green salad that helps stave off carbohydrate overload. Each element is done well, but it would be tough to steal the show from this jewel of a shrimp roll.
The main attraction has no weak links in its game. Each component is well-considered and precisely executed. The bun is perfect — sturdy but pliant, toasted just enough to add a little texture and sweetness. Inside, small, pink Georgia shrimp are snappy, yet tender. Their size helps keep the sandwich together as you eat it; every bite has a good ratio of bread, shrimp and sauce.
The sauce binding everything together is thin and clingy, loaded with herbs and a sting of lemon juice. Because it’s not thick and gloppy, it’s evenly distributed from the first bite to the last. The roll is topped with chives cut so finely they’d make a French culinary instructor weep, plus the clever addition of crumbled potato chips for a bit of crunchiness and salt.
It’s unlikely that the lobster roll ever will be supplanted as the king of seafood sandwiches, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for other dishes on the mountaintop. Watchman’s has created a shrimp roll that punches well above its weight class — and who doesn’t love a good underdog?
Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits. 99 Krog St., Atlanta. 404-254-0141, watchmansatl.com.
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