Thanks for Orlando/Clearwater/St. Pete Posts
My wife and I just returned from a relatively unplanned trip to the Clearwater/St. Pete area. Chowhound provided some great suggestions for fresh, local, casual seafood.
Wednesday, Jan 20, we landed in Sanford, picked up our rental car, and immediately drove to Rick & Lee's Oyster Bar. We split a dozen raw oysters, one fried oyster platter and one fried shrimp platter. The raw was outstanding, and we should have ordered the bucket. The fried platters were good, fresh, but somehow not quite on the same scale as the raw. Fries and slaw were decent. The atmosphere was good neighborhood divey, and our server was delightful.
Arrived at our Treasure Island hotel, that evening. Got lost a bit getting there, tired, but felt like we should go out. The only place close by was Middle Grounds Grill. Had not read about it. Sat in the bar and each had an excellent Key West Chowder. AND, it happened to be half-price wine bottle night. Two bottles of Cake Bread later, we felt much more relaxed. Great bar, wonderful service.
Thursday, we went to Frenchy's Rockaway Grill. Wow, what a wonderful meal, and what a view. We each had had a bowl of seacrab soup. This may be one of the best soups/chowders I have ever had. Also had conch fritters--quite good. Then split a Super Grouper sandwich. Just wonderful, but too stuffed.
Friday, lunch at Waltz. I had hesitated due to several Chowhound comments regarding staff attitudes. We were lucky, and had wonderful service. We each had conch chowder, perfect for a very foggy day. We split an order of fried oysters--light, delicate tasting. Also split a quite good piece of key lime pie. Walked around John's Pass after wards and listened to music outside at the Bamboo Beach Bar & Grill.
Friday evening--Keegans. Shecrab soup very good, but not quite as flavorful as Frenchy's. Grouper sandwich actually better, somehow sweeter than Frenchy's. A fun, very casual cafe with great staff.
Saturday, our Sarasota relatives arrived. Back to Frenchy's. Long afternoon wait this time, not as good a table, very loud. Nevertheless, soup and grouper were as good as ever. And waiting with a beach view is not a bad wait. Lots of cute toddlers playing in the sand.
Sunday, had planned brunch at St. Pete Hyatt. Changed plans to stay more casual. Guppy's provided excelled lobster bisque, sampler with tuna, shrimp, oyster. MC had crab burger, quite good but compare with Baltimore.
Monday--only bad meal of the trip. Drove to Tarpon Springs. One of our group didn't care for Greek food. Planned on Rusty Belly, did not know it was closed on Monday. Counter person in connected seafood store recommended Paul's Shrimp House. Chowder so-so, grouper sandwich thin, overcooked, and much too battered. Did get good pastry at a Greek bakery afterwards.
Enjoyed walking around the Tarpon Springs area. Full of tourists, just like us, but fun.
Tuesday AM, back to Keegans. Wanted Frenchy's, but tight schedule, had to drive back to Sanford for plane. MC had oyster poboy, and pronounced it almost as good as Old Thyme Grocery in Lafayette, La. I had outstanding charred octopus, followed by an interesting Grouper Ruben. I'm not sure the grouper can stand up to Ruben dressings. Still, very interesting taste. Wonderful, friendly service.
Tuesday evening, back to Sanford, walked around historic district. Had a beer in the Alley, reminded me of places in Fells Point, Baltimore. Dinner in Two Blondes and A Shrimp. Went for the she crab soup, and they were out. Had good fried green tomatoes, and raw oysters. Good food, great staff.
Early, early Wed AM, fly back to KY to wet, gray weather. Great trip.
Great trip. Would go back in a heartbeat. rlc
when we go to Lee and Rick's, we just sit at the bar and have them keep on shucking. I've only had the smoked fish other than the oysters there and they are still the best in my memory other than some at Grand Central Oyster in NYC. Glad you enjoyed Rick's. I think it is a Chowhound's dream.....LMF
I went to Grand Central Oyster many years ago. I had oysters from six or more regions/countries. They all had slightly different tastes, slightly more sweet, more salty, different texture, and so on. Such fun. I miss those business trips to NYC and all the great food there. rlc