I actually went to Decatur, Alabama today to eat lunch at Steak 'n Shake only to find out that it had closed down. But after hearing that Steak 'n Shake only scored a 62 on their Alabama Health Rating I wouldn't have eaten there anyway. That's an atrocious horrible, about to have the State close you down, rating. Since I was then looking for another place to eat, one that wasn't in the Shoals, I looked up on YELP listing for Decatur, AL and came across the review for Ard's Seafood Market which is located lust to the left of the old Decatur Princetons and what is now Sam's Grille. The Yelp Review for Ard's looked good and on their street signage they had achieved some Reader's Choice awards for pervious years and I knew that was also good. Normally though, having seen the restaurant from the outside, it's not a place that I normally would think of going to but I don't always count exterior looks as the most important things.
Upon entering it was for sure a seafood market as you could tell from the aroma and appearance of the place. One detraction, for those dining in, is that it's more a place for take out or take home and cook. There is the ability, as I did, to eat in and they have an eat in menu so in addition to the raw seafood they do, or will, serve up cooked seafood for you. I had the fried Shrimp, French fries and hushpuppies basket. They cook it right there, in front of you, fresh and it's super hot when you get it. They don't have a drink fountain so you are limited to a cooler with bottled drinks to choose your drink from. There are also very limited number of tables in which to dine in and I don't believe any table accommodated more than 3 patrons at a time.
All that said I was ready for some fresh fried gulf Shrimp (as they did have Fresh raw gulf shrimp, ready to purchase and take home to cook but if you eat in that's not what you get. You get shrimp that is frozen from the freezer and not fresh nor can you ask for the fresh to be cooked for you. I had ordered and was bummed at that but I chose to eat there anyways as it was late (for lunch) and I wanted to see what everyone was saying was so good (Reader's Choice winner that is).
I got a Sunkist Orange from the cooler and picked up my plate (all meals are packaged to go, even if you want to eat it there, and contained 12 large Shrimp, 3 Hushpuppies and crispy coated fries all for around $17-$18 I believe. In short that meal was good and I'd give it an overall 7.5 out of 10 rating. It was definitely not the best fried shrimp I've had, locally I give that title to Georges Steak Pit, but it was good and I finished it all off. The Hushpuppies were also very good and had some corn inside but I couldn't tell if it had onion as I like so although the were good, like the shrimp and fries, I have had better. All in all though it wasn't bad and with a health rating of 95 they are trying to keep the place up.
I can't say I'd give it my best rating for the shrimp (didn't try the other seafood) so don't know about the reader's choice awards, they might have been for the raw shrimp and seafood that was obtained in Alabama's gulf region, or most of it was. The owner/cook couldn't tell me where the frozen shrimp, that I had, was from, which I also didn't care for but as I said it was good and I wouldn't have a problem going back to try other selections but it's certainly not a place that I would drive from Florence for. I've eaten at Lash's Seafood before and it was better, from my memory, and was a much nicer dining experience and dining ambience. I'll post a few more photos and as I try other places I'll try and give my opinion. I soon hope to try Lash's Seafood Restaurant again but don't know that it will be anytime real soon, or maybe it will?
The photo above shows my shrimp basket and the photo right below shows their fresh fish and behind that where they cook / fry the fried fish that's cooked for eating in or taking out. I suppose that the steamed seafood is prepared/steamed in the rear of the restaurant/market. Also the bottom (last) photo is of their fresh shrimp case.