Deep sea, deep fried

The Jolly Roger flies all over The Pirate Ship.

The Jolly Roger flies all over The Pirate Ship.

Photo By Lauren Randolph

The Pirate Ship

495 Greenbrae Dr.
Sparks, NV 89431

(775) 331-7203

It’s more apparent than ever that we have a serious pirate threat on our unpatrolled seas. Though we’ve stopped shipping priceless chests of rubies and doubloons across open waters, pirates won’t go away. Just imagine your terror as loads of dirty pirates come pouring onto the captain’s deck during happy hour two days into your Caribbean winter luxury cruise. Nothing is beyond these people, thus my apprehension walking into Sparks’ The Pirate Ship.

If you don’t like pirate ships, or wouldn’t find eating inside one entertaining, stay away. However, you’d be missing something. The Pirate Ship lives up to its name both inside and out, from the wooden planks to the back dining area, which had been roughed up a little bit during a junior pirate food fight. There’s a tiki bar, where you can liquor up on drinks like the blow fish for two ($16): two shots each of pineapple and coconut rum, blue curacao, orange juice and ginger ale. It all comes in a fish bowl accompanied by two leis. I wanted to order one, but then thought about all the fried food soon to hit my gut.

Instead my wife, Kat, and I had the Sunday football pitcher special—a 60 oz. pitcher of Alaskan Amber Ale, one of five premium draughts available for only $5. Kat had trouble deciding which she wanted, so the waitress kindly brought us a free sampler of each of them. We followed that with the clam chowder ($5.95) and the pirate poppers ($3.95). The clam chowder nearly filled a giant schooner, and while a touch thin, it had a wonderful flavor imparted by loads of clams, potatoes and spicy cayenne. The chowder primed my mouth for the hot cream-cheese-stuffed-and-battered jalapeños. The Pirate Ship makes these and almost everything else in-house, which was evident by the greenness and crunchiness of the cream-cheese oozing jalapeños. The waitress mentioned “people either love or hate them.” I loved.

For the mains, I ordered the fresh battered combo boat with macaroni salad ($11.50) and Kat the swabby burger with mushrooms and fries ($6.95 plus $.50 for the mushrooms). My plate of fried shrimp, calamari and coconut fish with tilapia came with three dipping sauces. The calamari I didn’t enjoy for its almost pure batter flavor, and the fish was overpowered by burnt coconut. But I liked the crispy shrimp, which thanks to the dehusked tails, I could easily toss back. Kat’s gigantic burger tasted all right. Fortunately, the meat was seasoned well because the mushrooms didn’t contribute much. And although the burger wasn’t dripping, its size makes it a steal. Especially when paired with the side of thinly cut French and sweet potato fries. The sweet potatoes were crispy and salty-sweet delicious.

The ultimate plunder of our arterial health was the Davy Jones locker ($5.95): a deep fried Twinkie with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and toasted coconut. You’d be surprised how crumbly Twinkies become with a frying, and how little it improves them. Though well-presented, I’m opting for the deep fried Oreos ($3.95) next time.

The Pirate Ship hosts a scavenger hunt the first Thursday of each month, with a no-nonsense $200 first prize. And while the restaurant is something of a trip, I appreciate their dedication to friendliness and providing affordable homemade meals. However, be warned if you’re on a diet or have a tendency to get surly when destroyed in a scavenger hunt.