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Nov 29, 2005 11:22 AM

Frenchy's Grouper Sandwich--What makes it so Special?

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I've heard many people rave about the grouper sandwich at Frenchy's Cafe... I've never had the opportunity to visit, so could someone please help this Yankee understand what makes it so special? Is it the fish, the bread, is there a sauce? Could you please describe this sandwich for me? I understand you can get it grilled, fried, or cajun, which I assume just means blackened, so I would assume its not the cooking method that's important. Please let me know your thoughts!

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  1. For the life of me I don't understand the lure of this particular sandwich. I found the breading much too thick; in fact, it might have been thicker than the filet it was wrapped around. I prefer Dockside Dave's on Madeira Beach; pretty much an old-fashioned seafood shack with a huge slab of grouper (I like the blackened, but the fried is exellent). The Hurricane in St. Pete Beach isn't as good as it used to be, but I still like it better than Frenchy's, with the added advantage of not being on busy, touristy Clearwater Beach. Frency's has its fans, though, so let's hear from them.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bergerman
      Tandoori Girl

      Part of the draw is that it's often hard to find a fresh grouper sandwich anywhere. My personal favorite is in Tampa at Mott & Hester deli. I like their bread and tartare sauce.

      Frenchy's has grouper tacos that are good. Also, Frenchy's beachside is a nice location on the Gulf in Clearwater.

      1. re: Tandoori Girl

        From my perspective in Chicago, it's hard to beat a bigass piece of fresh, "day-boat" grouper on a bun, with the beach in the distance, all for the price of a drink and a bad pastry from Starbucks.

        Outside of the Gulf, and particularly the Gulf coast of Florida, fresh grouper is hard enough to come by. CHEAP fresh grouper that is well handled (that is, minimally handled)is simply not available.

        Original Poster, it's sort of like a lobster roll in Maine: pristine seafood that is elsewhere a luxury, served in a very humble way.

    2. I've downed many a Frenchy's Grouper sandwich, at both the Original Cafe location and at Rockaway Grill, the blackened or the fried being my preferences. They are very, very good, and have won several Best of the Bay awards from an alternative paper, Weekly Planet. The Frenchy's restaurants have their own fishing boats, claim to handle the fish well and that they never serve frozen fish. Certainly they do a tremendous volume, which suggests competence in preparation. I believe the raves come because grouper is a mild tasting, meaty textured fish, that appeals to many. Bun is nothing special at Frenchy's, sauce is a pretty basic tartar sauce, fine. They do a pretty good job at marketing, the restaurants seem pretty well run, and they are fun destinations.

      1. Nothing, in my opinion.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Little T.

          I agree. It's good, but there are plenty of others on the beach that are just as good (or better). It is hardly nirvana on a bun, and too heavily breaded for my taste.

          I had a parmesean crusted grouper cheek sandwich at Keegan's on Indian Rocks Beach a couple of weeks ago, and it was the best grouper sandwich I've had lately.

        2. just ate here yesterday for dinner AND today for lunch, before leaving tampa back to NYC. i'm a discerning yankee NYC chowhound, and i have to say i LOVED frenchy's. the grouper is locally caught and the batter is quite thick, but it's not overly fried noticeable b/c the batter is sort of soft and flavorful and doesn't take away from the fresh flaky juicy fish filet. i actually really liked the bun, which was i think a potato hamburger bun with onions on top. both the coleslaw and chips (side options) were good. kettle chips, super crispy. crunchy coleslaw. i can honestly say it was the best fish sandwich i've ever had.

          we also had the seafood gumbo (incredible), super cheap dozen oysters ($8.95) and yummy fresh fried cracked conch. we were lucky to be there on taco tuesday, so half price $1.25 tacos were DELISH and plentiful.

          1. I don't really get the hype about the grouper sandwich. It's just a fish sandwich. Period. Anyone that tells you different is just being defensive. Besides, grouper is a rather mild fish anyway. Just as Chicago has it's own hot dog and Philadelphia has a cheesesteak sandwich, Tampa has the grouper sandwich.


            2 Replies
            1. re: UptownKevin

              The grouper sandwich is more St. Pete/Clearwater than Tampa. Thr grouper sandwich was specialliy designed to appeal to tourists who know nothing about seafood AND to market what was considered a trash fish until the mid to late 1970s. amazing how many trashj fishes have risen to the top of the food chain because we ate all the better ones. Tuna, anyone?

              I think the recent articles about all this "fake" grouper are amusing (St. Pete Times). Somehow eating fried tilapia is less desirable? most restaurants lie about the fish they're serving (sea bass, yeah right), and the practice will not change. Wild seafood will be extinct in a few years anyway, and we'll all be eating the same bland fish.

              I have nothing against a good grouper sandwich. I have many friends who worked at Frenchy's. Everyone there seemed to be stoned--- except for the customers, anyway.

              1. re: UptownKevin

                i didn't know Frenchy's was a popular restaurant and i can't say i can compare it to other local grouper sandwiches. i'm not being defensive by putting the grouper sandwich on a pedestal. it was my first time at Frenchy's and i just have to say i thought it was delicious. plain and simple.