Mac’s Acadian Seafood Shack, the enormously popular Saline mainstay, is named for the homeland of Louisiana’s Cajuns in what are now the Maritime provinces of Canada. Its menu includes Cajun standards; the changing fresh catch selection includes fish plucked from North Atlantic waters; and the steamed mussels come from Prince Edward Island.
But, fortunately, Mac’s isn’t wedded to the Acadian theme. Instead, the restaurant has successfully fashioned itself as a thoroughly Midwestern fried fish and steak spot where neighbors can grab beers after work, couples can celebrate coinciding anniversaries, and shy high school boys can take their dates for dinner before prom. From what I saw, most of the cheery diners who nightly crowd Mac’s massive divided dining room stick with deep-fried shrimp and deep-fried lake perch—and if you’re seeking an edible explanation of why it’s necessary to make a reservation for a weekend night table, you probably should too.
By my count, there are more than three dozen entrées on Mac’s dinner menu, not counting the surf-and-turf combination plates or weekly specials. While a boon to large parties of co-workers and relatives with incompatible palates, the long menu is seeded with potential pitfalls. Dishes with gourmet pretensions fall flat, a disappointment made more agonizing by the kind and well-trained service staff, who cluck with concern over uneaten entrées. It would surely be better for everyone if the shrimp and crawfish étouffée wasn’t unpleasantly gummy and the char-grilled swordfish had interacted with a saltshaker before leaving the kitchen.
But corrective experiences abound, with the first available just a few paces from the door. Mac’s boisterous, crescent-shaped bar is a fine place for a pint, but it also serves startlingly affordable raw oysters: $7 buys a half-dozen during happy hour, with the price climbing a mere $2 after 6 p.m. That’s an extraordinarily good deal for delicate, oceanic Blue Points and Malpeques. Served with a well-balanced mignonette, heap of horseradish, and cocktail sauce, the raw oyster platter’s a reasonable excuse for refusing to abandon your slat-backed wooden bar stool when the hostess comes calling.
Yet if you’re willing to be roused, another highlight awaits at table: every meal at Mac’s starts with chewy, butter-soaked poppy seed rolls that patrons of Real Seafood Co. will instantly recognize. According to our server, Mac’s buys Real Seafood’s dough, and the supple hot bread plays just as well in the southern part of the county.
Mac’s isn’t stingy about refilling rolls, a bit of generosity that almost compensates for the lackluster quality of its ambitious appetizers. My seared wedges of ahi tuna caked with sesame seeds weren’t fully thawed, and accompanying pools of soy sauce and glaciers of wasabi couldn’t mask the icy fish’s bland flavor. Jambalaya, ornamented with salty andouille sausage and overcooked shrimp, was murky. A proudly tropical serving of coconut shrimp was tidily fried, yet at the same meal, nuggets of gator meat were sodden with aging oil.
Soups and salads were more pleasing. While the mustardy dressing on a Caesar was applied too liberally, the greens were fresh and the brown anchovies were perky. A purple cabbage slaw, slathered in mayonnaise, sounded the right fried-fish-dinner notes. And a cup of gumbo bobbing with diced tomatoes, a stew that proved to be the most impressive of Mac’s Cajun-inflected dishes, was robust and peppery.
All entrées are served with a choice of side dish. Potato pancakes sound intriguing, but the batter was swamped with egg. My redskin potatoes were so overcooked they could have been eaten with a spoon. The french fries and rice pilaf were decent.
The adjective to chase when entrée shopping at Mac’s is “fried”: Broiled whitefish was mushy, and sautéed rainbow trout was deluged with far too much ­parsley-flecked lemon butter. But deep-fried lake perch tasted just as fried fish should: the fish was meaty and sweet, and the thinly applied golden fry was admirably clean.
The perch is best followed by a slice of zippy key lime pie with a crackery crust. The pie’s not fancy, and it certainly isn’t Acadian—in the Maritimes, meals traditionally end with baked apple ­dumplings—but it’s the perfect dessert to cap a fish fry that eaters from anywhere could understand.

Mac’s Acadian Seafood Shack
104 E. Michigan, Saline, 944–6227
Mon.–Fri., 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Sat. noon–11 p.m., Sun. 4–8:30 p.m. Appetizers $8.95–$10.95, dinner salads and burgers $7.95–$13.50, entrées $16.95–$33.95.
Wheelchair friendly