The engineers at Denison Dam would have to let an awful lot of water out of Lake Texoma for the Red River to reach the Dock in Hendrix, Oklahoma, and that is not likely to happen. But that is all right, as the long-time seafood restaurant, a mile or so across the Carpenter’s Bluff bridge, is still attracting hungry diners in search of a seafood fix at their buffet.
I had been hearing about the Dock for years, but had not been there until recently, when I made the trek across the river with a couple of friends who regularly rave about the place. We arrived about 5 p.m. on a Friday and found the place with a medium sized crowd already there for the buffet. For reasons never explained, what appeared to be a teenage girl in shorts and a hoodie, sat with her head down on a table near the door asleep or something. At no time during our 45 minute stay did she move at all. No one seemed to pay any attention, so write it up to local color.
There was the usual iceberg lettuce salad bar with a few other offerings, cole slaw, relish, cottage cheese, and the like and three pans of desserts, cobblers and the obligatory banana pudding. While my friends loaded up their plates, I tried a little of this and a little of that for starters.
Peel-your-own boiled shrimp seemed a good place to begin. The medium size shrimp, iced down in a pan, were OK, but frankly, peeling, then working with a fork to clean the intestinal track (That's the black vein running along the back just under the flesh.) made the effort more trouble than it was worth for one good bite.
The fried shrimp came in two varieties, jumbo and butterfly. By my definition, butterflied shrimp have been shelled, de-veined, slit slightly down the back and press somewhat flat — think about a butterfly's wings — before being breaded and fried. At the Dock, what the term butterfly shrimp applied to be small crustacean — larger than the popcorn variety, but still not as big as a quarter — breaded and fried whole. The shrimp were a favorite of one of my friends, who likes the fact that you can eat them tail and all.
The jumbo shrimp were more traditional. Larger, slightly flattened, they were crisp, crunchy and tasty. On my second trip around the line, I got some that had just come out of the fryer and were particularly good.
The buffet table also had catfish strips, which were OK, but nothing special, chicken strips of the same ilk, and some pretty good pulled pork. On the side were red beans, green beans, fried okra, French fries, corn nuggets, hush puppies and cornbread.
Having almost filled up on the fried foods and pork, I headed to the dessert line. As it turned out, this was the highlight of the meal. Two big pans of cobbler, peach, and either cherry or strawberry or a mixture of both, I wasn't sure, were excellent with thick homemade crust and plenty of fruit.
Except for the batch of shrimp just out of the fryer, the offerings were more warm than hot, and since fried foods lose their crispness and crunch pretty quickly as they cool down, this works against any buffet. Over all, the Dock provided a reasonably good fried food fill up, and you will not leave hungry, but don't over expect. It is what it is.
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