Shorty Small’s – Branson Landing


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I had to make a trip to Branson to drop off my niece at the new Branson airport.  I decided that a meal at Branson Landing was in order since we were in the area.  My wife and mother-in-law were along for the ride and we decided to give Shorty Small’s a try since the weather was great and Shorty’s is located right on the river.  I remember a long time ago when Shorty’s was in Springfield but about the only thing I remember were the ‘Macho Nachos’ which were very large and very messy.

We arrived about 5pm and there were very few people in the place.  We wanted to sit outside next to the water but you have to first go inside to see the hostess to get a table.  We waited for a good 5 minutes before anyone came up to the hostess station to greet us and the other 2 groups of people waiting to get in.  Once it was our turn, we were led outside and told we could sit anywhere we wanted.  We picked a table next to the private dock where we could see a bit of the downstream part of the lake.  While handing us the menus, the hostess made a point to tell us about their famous ‘jumpin-off-the-bone’ ribs which made me think that the BBQ must be something special here.

While I was looking at the menu, I saw that the two ladies at the table next to us had an order of the ribs and I asked how they were.  She said they were tender but didn’t have much meat on them.  She also mentioned that the BBQ sauce was too sweet.  After looking at them, I decided to skip the ribs.  The other lady said that the fried catfish ($12.99) was really good and I was considering that until my wife decided that is what she would have.  So instead I chose the brisket & chicken strip combo ($13.99) which comes with fries, slaw and a cheddar biscuit.  I requested the BBQ sauce on the side.  My mother-in-law picked the chicken strip dinner ($12.99).

Chicken Strip Dinner

We all noticed that the portion sizes were pretty good with the chicken strip & catfish platters looking very substantial.  My plate came with 4 or 5 smallish strips of chicken and a medium sized pile of the brisket.  The chicken was a success.  The breading was light and very crispy and the chicken was tender and moist.  It was very similar to a really good pan-fried chicken on the bone but without the bone.  I also liked the white gravy provided for dipping.  The taste I had of my wife’s catfish was ok.  It was crispy and tender but I thought the taste of cornmeal breading they used overpowered the fish.  My wife thought there was a ‘perfumy’ taste to the breading that she wasn’t sure she cared for – I didn’t notice that.

As for the sides, the slaw was very good, nice and crispy and lightly dressed.  The seasoned fries were good as well – they were a fresh cut style and crispy.  The biscuit was dry and forgettable.

Chicken & Brisket Dinner

You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned the brisket yet … I was saving that for last.  See, the brisket was an utter failure.  This was by far the worst brisket I’ve ever had.  It had absolutely never seen any smoke.  The texture was rubbery.  The flavor was that of canned meat.  It almost tasted pickled.  I guess it was beef, but I’m still not really sure about that.  I figured that the only way to get this down was to use the sauce.  I was wrong.  The sauce was almost as bad as the brisket.  It was much too sweet and I didn’t like anything about the flavor.  My meal was a study in contrasts – on one had you have this great chicken, slaw & fries and then this pile of grossness they call brisket.

Service was spotty.  I mentioned before the minutes spent waiting at the hostess station for someone to appear.  After we were seated it was quite a while before anyone showed up to take our order.  Our initial round of drinks took a while to appear – good thing we ordered our food at the same time as our drinks.  The time to get our food wasn’t too bad and once we did get our food our server checked on us more often.  I was able to get several refills on my diet coke without issues.

Outside Seating

Shorty Small’s is located on the river – actually on a floating barge on the river.  There are inside and outside eating areas.  The outside tables don’t have much of a river view as they are mostly arranged on the riverwalk side of the barge.  There aren’t any tables on the river side as it is occupied with the 2 story bar house and the excursion riverboat dock.  When boats pass by, you get a bit of rocking from the wake which was kind of fun.  I enjoyed sitting outside as our table did have a partial river view and the weather was really nice.  Inside seating was a mix of booths and tables with your typical corrugated metal-panel look to the walls.  The other Branson Landing restaurants have better lake views since they sit up higher overlooking things.

If I make it back to Shorty Small’s I’ll stick with the chicken since the BBQ was a nightmare.  Honestly though, I don’t think the chicken would be enough of a draw to get me back because I know that some of the best Mexican food around is a short walk away with better views at the Cantina Laredo.

# 7 Boardwalk, Branson Landing – (417) 544-1133

Catfish Dinner

Inside Seating

Link to Web Site

Link to Menu

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