IT was that time on a January afternoon when the light is fading and you can gawp in everybody's window before they remember to draw the curtains.

Well, I didn't get to be the Tec without being nosy, did I?

I was behind the wheel of the Buick, rubber-necking my way down the west end part of Argyle Street, with the Moll riding shotgun, eyeballing the other side of the street.

"Say, Tec", she piped up, "There's some real fancy- looking joints down this end of town if you were looking to take a hungry broad for something to eat. And I'm starving..."

I might have known. All the restaurants did indeed look very cosy and welcoming, but for a dame with a big voice and a bigger appetite, she could hardly have picked a smaller venue.

"I wonder if they can, er, squeeze us in?" I pondered delicately. "Only one way to find out" breezed Toots.

Crabshakk is a tiny little spot specialising in seafood for real hard-core fans of the briny.

We're talking oysters, crabs (obviously) lobsters and crayfish. But they keep it friendly, too, with fish and chips and sandwiches for the more wary diner.

And all in a space the size of a walk-in wardrobe, though a welcoming one, with bright lights, a dazzling bar area and lots of very small bleached wood tables.

The waitress looked downcast when we asked for a table, but after rifling through her reservations, she brightened up. We were in, just. And in the window seat at that.

We pondered the menu over a glass of Spanish white wine for Moll, a ginger ale, for little old Buick-driving me, and treated oursleves to some salted almonds and olives to get the ball rolling.

Just as we thought we'd decided, another waitress appeared with a showstopping specials board. Time for a rethink.

I wasn't to be deterred from starting with oysters, show-off that I am. You can order them singly or in threes, sixes or dozens. I ordered three. I'm not that much of a show-off.

Toots ordered the squat lobsters with a lemon mayo from the specials.

Our drinks hadn't arrived especially quickly and neither did the starters, but the place is so buzzy we were enjoying ourselves anyway.

And they were worth the wait. Three scrummy oysters, looking dazzling on a bed of crushed ice with lemon, with a dish of red wine vinegar and shallots, slipped down a treat. The squat lobsters were around a dozen crayfish, all expertly dismantled by the Moll's greedy fingers before being dunked in the gorgous lemon mayonnaise. She looked like a cat with the cream.

We were ready for the main event, which arrived much more promptly and this time I risked a white wine to accompany.

I had the whitebait and fries, tiny little fish dusted in flour and cooked whole. Crunchy and more-ish, with piping hot shoestring chips, they made for a feast. The Moll chose the John Dory, a fillet of dense white fish, pan-fried and served with delicious mash, lightly steamed broccoli and dressed with an intense anchovy and herb reduction that really made it sing.

"I could eat this every night for a month," raved Blondie.

But she wasn't done. Puddings are a limited choice at Crabshakk, so unusually for my sweet-toothed companion, she went for the cheese board with a glass of red. A winning choice. A hard, soft and blue selection came with oatcakes, figs, grapes and apple and the wine complemented it perfectly.

Someone had to have something sweet, so I made the sacrifice and went for an Italian classic you don't see that much, affogato, two scoops of vanilla ice-cream which come with a small cup of espresso for you to drench it in. Weird, but spectacular, I must say.

It's great to find somewhere so good to get seafood in the city at a reasonable price. Proof that good things really do come in small packages.


Squat lobsters £6.50

Oysters (X3) £5.95


John Dory with broccoli and mash and an anchovy reduction £19.95

Whitebait and fries £6.95


Olives and almonds £2.50


Cheese board £7.95

Affogato £4.50


Two white Macabeo wines £9.60

Red Finca wine £4.95

Ginger ale £2.25 TOTAL £71.10