The Slipway brings a Key West feel to the Maine coast — if you substitute pine trees for palms. The sprawling seafood shack and restaurant sits on the water’s edge at the public landing in Thomaston. Indoors and out blend in a haphazard collection of eating spaces — porch, bar, dining room and a wharf of picnic tables leading to an outdoor bar just above the tidal St. George River.

On the night we visited, a Monday in August, jazz played on the porch and the place was almost full. Customers seemed to enjoy a sense of belonging. This spirited atmosphere doesn’t just happen — it takes good food and drink, a welcoming staff and customer loyalty. (Even Jamie Wyeth stops by. A framed print bears his note and signature.)

We were seated in the sunroom, away from the music. Rain kept us inside, alas. The deck is no doubt a pleasant spot in the sunshine.

Chef/owner Scott Yakovenko, who operated the Dip Net in Port Clyde for eight years before his lease was up, opened The Slipway in mid-May, in the former Harborview Restaurant.

We stuck with seafood and didn’t get to any terrestrial offerings. The fried oysters (about six as an appetizer, $8.50) were fantastic. Bite into a crisp, light coating for a melting and juicy burst of flavor. A ginger shallot dipping sauce accompanied, with beets adding a bright pink. Get two orders. At least.

Or try the calamari appetizer with lemon pepper aioli or the monk nuggets with chipotle lime. For the record, we did not indulge in these. I mention them to show how the menu goes beyond standard clam shack fare, which is a big plus.

Lobster bisque was tomato-based with a cream finish ($6.50 per cup; $9.50 a bowl) and didn’t allow the seafood to shine. Unlike a lobster stew in which you’d expect ample seafood, this cup portion contained only a few cubes of meat.

The fish and chips basket ($11.50) was delicious, among the best I’ve had around Maine. Small, thick chunks of haddock were pull-apart tender, with a crisp exterior. The coleslaw — colorful cabbages minced fine with a house-made dressing — was a vast improvement on so many mayo-heavy varieties.

Hand-cut fries tasted like potatoes (hallelujah!) and not fry oil. Add vinegar and salt, and don’t look back.

Bouillabaisse ($24) was chock-full of large lobster pieces, mussels, calamari, crab meat, oysters (in the shell, so you must pry) and scallops. While the abundant seafood items were fresh and well-cooked, the three of us agreed the broth lacked a depth of flavor we’ve experienced before. And may I suggest more garlic and thicker slices of dipping bread?

The night’s special of monkfish (from Port Clyde Fresh Catch) and scallops completed our entrees. A delicious pulpy and colorful ratatouille made from local vegetables accompanied the characteristically chewy and mild monkfish and tender scallops, with basmati rice on the side. It was a tasty, homestyle plate ($22.50).

Our server let us down a few times. Early on, an exuberant crush of a cold crab claw (mea culpa) sent liquid across our table, followed by not-so-fastidious consumption of the insides. In short, our table turned into a mess, even before entrees arrived. I mentioned this in an offhand way twice, but no wipe-down followed. I snagged someone else who wandered by with a towel, and she helped us out.

An offer for wine tastes got three yes votes, but only one glass came from the bar. And even though we thought we all had requested it (perhaps our voices got drowned out — it was noisy), water came for only one of us — in a tiny glass, sans ice, and tepid. Really? We gently asked for two more glasses. A carafe came (thank you!) and we went through it. Twice. People, it’s summer.

Let me emphasize how friendly and well-intentioned our waitress was. But a casual atmosphere shouldn’t translate into careless service.

A suggestion for the kitchen: Those delicious fish and chips spilled out of a too-small paper holder onto the table. The pricier entrees arrived on dinnerware. This felt a little disjointed, as if the restaurant wasn’t sure of its intentions. If we were outside and carefree, basking in the sun, it’s possible that this mix wouldn’t have been jarring. But why not put fried seafood dishes on plates anyway, if you’ve got them?

The two desserts we tried earned opposite marks (both were $6.50). Peach and raspberry pie was a tasty creation. Attractive though it was, a lemon cream with raspberry coulis over an anise shortbread cookie lacked the crisp, buttery character of a rich shortbread and the airy brightness of a good lemon confection.

If you go — and you should — transfer those dessert calories to a Slipway Sling (Jack Daniels, house-made lemonade and ginger beer for $7 — what’s not to like?), park yourself on the deck and give in to fried seafood, especially those oysters.

Add mixed greens with emerald citrus dressing ($3.50/$6.50 — not bad), and you have yourself a splendid seaside dinner.

Nancy Heiser is a freelance writer who lives near Portland. Her work has appeared in national and regional publications.