Monday, February 22, 2010

Musings on Truly Fresh Seafood in Pinellas County

Krok wrote yesterday: "Who do you think makes the best grouper sandwich in Pinellas County? I say it's Harvey's."

Do you know I've only been to Harvey's once? I'm going to have to make it a point to go there soon!

Isn't it strange that most seafood restaurants here aren't locally owned and don't use local fish? It's so hard to get fresh fish unless you know where to go.

I've never been a big fan of grouper sandwiches, so I'm hardly a connoisseur. But if I were, I would've bet on Frenchy's, Clearwater Beach.

You know what's so odd about Frenchy's? They have a couple restaurants and the only one worth eating at is the one directly on the beach, near where the water tower used to be, and where the fire department still resides.

I highly recommend almost anything they make. However, avoid the seafood salad. The scallops are always as chewy as a pencil eraser due to the excess of lime juice (which turns most seafood into rubber unless it's applied just before serving).

Their sangria is divine (almost as good as the Columbia's), and their appetizers are excellent. But their most amazing fare is the she-crab soup, which is to die for! Most people can order a bowl of it and go home, content in knowing that they've just had the nicest experience of their day.

Perhaps best feature at Frenchy's is the view. When the weather is good, you can sit out under an umbrella on the patio and watch people on the beach, listen to the gulls, and simply relax.

Oddly, the Palm Pavillion (also the same location) doesn't have any of the magic that Frenchy's has. Their food, service, and atmosphere are all quite ordinary. I don't say that lightly, as I know and like the family that owns it.

If you want to buy your own and prepare it yourself, Ward's Seafood is the only place to go. Their fish is so fresh, it's just come off the boat, and they'll prepare it for you if you'd prefer (i.e. gutting, scaling, etc.). They also have a mini restaurant there, for take-out, and some pre-prepared dishes if you want something fresh but you're too tired to get out the mixing bowl.

If you decide to charter a boat to go deep-sea fishing (I love to do that!), then go to John's Pass for an enjoyable day out. When the day's over, you can pay the staff to clean your fish for you. In my opinion, this is the only way to do it!

Then you can take your catch home, or take some of it to the Friendly Fisherman restaurant there and have them cook it for you, with all the "fixins" to go with it. There is nothing more incredible than fresh off-the-boat-into-the-pan fish.

Then, of course, there is Ted Peters.

I can't rave enough about Ted Peters. The atmosphere is absolutely horrible and the service isn't much better, but the food is moan-while-you're-eating divine. It's a great local favorite, and that should tell you something. Tourists can have Red Lobster, but we natives head for Ted Peters if we're in the mood for seafood that is exceptional. They smoke the fish themselves, and I highly recommend the salmon.

NOTE: This is definitely not a paid advertisement for anyone mentioned in here, but I can be bought with fresh seafood. ;o) Just kidding.

Sort of.


daveawayfromhome said...

I cant believe you're telling people this. I make it a rule to never tell people about my favorite places (not that I keep that rule very well), because it always seems to lead to them becoming popular, more expensive, and crowded with jerks. Or defunct. The better way to introduce people to your favorite restaurants is to take them there, so when should I show up?

krok4 said...

Saur, wow, thanks a lot for this post. You always do posts right even if you are crazy.

I love grouper and have eaten at all the places you mention here. You pretty much hit the nail on the head.

The owner of Harney's is a jerk but I had fun hanging out with Charlie there. It's hard not to love Kenny, Dale, Hoyt and Wade.

I hope you are doing well. I'm flying into town this summer to check out my brother's new beach mansion. I'll talk to you then.